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Opening a bank account online can be quick and easy. It can take just minutes and save you a trip to a bank branch. And if you’re opening an account at an online bank, it may be your only option. The top online banks are FDIC-insured, offer higher rates than typical brick-and-mortar banks and often charge low or no fees.
Here’s how to open a bank account online in a few steps:
Choose the type of account you want.
Collect your personal documents and information in advance.
Fill out the application with your personal details.
Fund your new account.
» Ready to compare online-only banks? Check out NerdWallet's picks for Best Online Banks
1. Choose the type of account you want
Before you start the application, you have two key decisions to make:
Checking, savings or other? Determine this new account’s primary purpose. If you need the money to pay regular expenses, consider opening a checking account and make sure it doesn’t charge too many fees (or that you can get them waived). If the money will be set aside for savings, make sure the account earns a good interest rate. Carefully consider how you’ll be using this new account in order to weigh your options.
Single or joint account? With a single account, you’re the sole owner. A joint account is one you co-own with another person, generally a family member or significant other.
» Need help deciding which account is best for your needs? Read our primer on how to choose a bank account.
If the financial institution offers multiple savings or checking accounts, compare them to see which terms and features work best for you.
Also confirm that the account will be FDIC insured, which means the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. protects your money in case the bank fails. To find out whether your deposits are federally insured, search for your bank on the FDIC’s BankFind tool. You can also look for the FDIC insurance logo on the bank site. (Check the FDIC site to see how the official logo should appear.)
Accounts at credit unions have equivalent protection from a separate government agency, the National Credit Union Administration. You can find out if a credit union is protected by searching for it in the NCUA’s credit union locator.
» Learn more: FDIC coverage and its limits
2. Collect your personal documents and information in advance
Here's the documentation you'll need to open a bank account online. You'll also need this information for anyone who will be a joint account owner.
Social Security number or, for noncitizens, another identification number.
Valid driver’s license or other government-issued ID.
If your new account requires an initial deposit, you'll also need debit card information, or routing and account numbers, for another bank account you own. You can find these numbers on a check or by logging into your existing account’s online dashboard.
3. Fill out the application with your personal information
To open a bank account online, you’ll need to provide some information about yourself. Using a secure home internet connection or another trustworthy network, fill out the application with your personal details, which will likely include:
Information from the items you previously gathered, including Social Security number, ID and debit card or bank account information.
Date of birth.
While in most situations you can send this information online, there may be some cases where you are asked to fax or email additional documents — such as a copy of your driver’s license — to help verify your identity. Some banks might require that you come into a branch to provide these documents if you’ve had a history of checking account issues or a limited work or credit history, for example.
You might also have to sign and mail in a signature card or form so your bank can verify your signature or so you can agree to receive statements and other messages online. If you’re not a legal adult, you’ll need a parent co-signer’s information as well, and you may need to visit a branch to complete your application.
» Want to earn a cash bonus for opening your new account? Check out our list of the best bank account promotions and offers
4. Fund your online bank account
When you open an account online, you’ll need to make an initial deposit. This usually means making a transfer from an existing account. If your bank is all online, you may also be able to fund with a check or money order. And if your bank has local branches, you can also visit one to deposit cash.
Once you enter the details for the transfer, choose an amount that satisfies any minimum balance or starting deposit requirement. The funds generally take a few days to process, and then you can start managing your new account.