How to Open a Bank Account Online in 4 Steps

Have your contact information and proof of identity ready and be prepared to fund your new account.
Ruth Sarreal
Spencer Tierney
By Spencer Tierney and  Ruth Sarreal 
Edited by Yuliya Goldshteyn Reviewed by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury

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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 branch. And if you’re opening an account at an online bank or credit union, it may be your only option. The top online banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (and the top credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration), 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:

  1. Choose the type of account you want.

  2. Collect your personal documents and information in advance.

  3. Fill out the application with your personal details.

  4. Fund your new account.

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1. Choose the type of account you want

Before you start the application, you have two key decisions to make:

  • Do you want to open a checking, savings or other bank account? 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.

  • Do you want to open a single or joint bank 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 you? 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.)

»Want to compare accounts? Look at two online options with Varo vs Chime

Accounts at credit unions have equivalent protection from a separate government agency, the NCUA. You can find out if a credit union is protected by searching for it in the NCUA’s credit union locator.

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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.

  • Name.

  • Date of birth.

  • Address.

  • Contact information.

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. (If you’re an adult looking to open an account for a child, find out what you need to know about kids savings accounts).

» Want a cash bonus for opening your new account? Check out our list of the best bank account promotions and offers

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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.

» Want to bank on the go? See our list of the best banks and credit unions for mobile banking

Frequently asked questions

You can open a bank account online with online banks as well as with national, brick-and-mortar financial institutions. Some regional credit unions and banks also allow you to open an account online.

Yes, you can open a bank account completely online, without ever going into a bank branch. With a completely online bank or account, you can also do all your account management online.

You can open a checking account online in just a few minutes with an online bank or credit union, or traditional banks and credit unions that offer online banking and checking accounts. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, U.S. Bank and most other big banks offer the ability to open accounts on their websites. Some of the top online banks and credit unions — including Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, Discover Bank and SoFi — make it possible to open checking accounts online in just a few minutes.

Yes, you can open a bank account online without immediately making a deposit. Some banks don’t have any minimum opening deposit requirement. However, if you don’t make a deposit within a certain amount of time, the bank may close the account.

Yes, you can open a Chase bank account and a Bank of America account online. Other national banks, including PNC, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, also offer the option to open bank accounts online.

Any bank account can be easy to open online as long as you have all the necessary materials and the bank or credit union offers online banking or a mobile app. Oftentimes online accounts can be opened in just a few minutes.

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