Opening an Account — Finding the Right Bank for You

Finding the Right Bank for You

Where to deposit your money can be a big decision. If you’re like most people, the relationship you develop with your bank (or banks) will be a long one. It’s important to make sure that the bank you choose has the services and benefits you want and need to manage your money effectively.

With most banks you have a range of options that allow you to choose when and how you prefer to manage your money. From a face-to-face visit at your local branch, to banking through an ATM, online banking, mobile banking or some combination of “all the above,” you can decide what works—and what’s most convenient for you.

Finding the right bank to fit your needs

Finding the right bank to fit your needs requires a little homework. It starts with thinking about what services you are looking for and prioritizing what’s important to you as a customer. Everyone is different. You may find that the convenience of having the bank branch around the corner from your home or office outweighs a slightly higher interest rate or free checking offer from another bank that requires you to drive across town.

Here are some questions to help you figure out what you want from your bank.

  • Do you prefer the face-to-face interaction and customer service you get by going into a bank branch or are you comfortable conducting all or most of your financial transactions online?   
  • What does “convenience” mean to you? Does it mean that there is a branch near your home or office or does it mean that you want 24/7 access to your accounts online or from your mobile phone?   
  • Do you write a lot of checks? If so, look for an account with unlimited checking.  
  • Do you like paying your bills online? Look for a bank that offers free online access that includes unlimited bill payments and transfers.  
  • How often do you use the ATM? If it’s a frequent stop, does the bank have a large network of ATMs in locations that are convenient for you (near your office, near home, in or near your local grocery store)?   
  • Are you looking for a single bank that will allow you to keep and manage all of your accounts in one place (savings, checking, car loan, CDs, etc.) or are you willing to multi-task and keep track of accounts at different institutions?

Once you’ve thought about what’s important to you, start comparing your options. Ask friends or coworkers where they bank and what they like and don’t like about it. Check out bank websites, most can give you all the information you need about hours of operation, fees, interest rates and the availability of online and mobile banking. If not, or better yet in addition, stop by or call your local bank and ask them. You’ll get to experience their customer service first-hand.

Opening an account

To open a new bank account, most banks will require photo identification, your Social Security number, and an initial deposit. Be sure to check with the bank in advance to confirm what you will need. You may be required to provide:

  • Photo identification—Valid driver’s license, state identification card, or passport 
  • Social Security number   
  • Proof of residence—Phone bill or utility bill in your name, for example

You will most likely need to provide cash or a check to deposit into the new account. If you are opening an account online, you will fill out an online application and will need to either mail a check, or transfer funds electronically from an existing account into the new account. Be sure you know what the minimum opening deposit requirement is.

Agree to terms

A bank account represents an important relationship with your bank involving your money and how it will be handled. Be sure to read and understand all of the terms and conditions, and ask questions if there you see a term you don’t understand.

Which online money management tools are people most interested in?1

E-mail Alerts, Track Savings Goals, Online check register.

Achieve your financial goals with free training.

Whether you want to save money, build credit, or become a personal finance wiz, our MoneyWi$e tutorials can help.

Let's get started!

This site is for education purposes. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.


Source: North American Technographics Payments and Financial Product Online Survey, Q4 2009 (U.S.), Forrester Research, Inc., Survey Base: 4,562 US Online Respondents