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 Sara Clarke 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.

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The top online banks offer higher rates than typical brick-and-mortar banks, often charge low or no fees and are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). The top credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

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1. Choose the account

Consider the type of account

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

  • What type of bank account do you want? Checking and savings accounts are the most common pair to open at a bank, but you don’t have to have them in the same place. Having accounts at multiple banks can mean getting different benefits. Checking accounts give access to multiple payment and withdrawal options, such as debit cards, bill pay and ATMs, while savings accounts focus on storing funds and earning interest. Look for checking accounts with no monthly fees or easy ways to avoid them, and consider savings accounts with high rates.

  • Do you want to open a 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.

If the financial institution offers multiple savings or checking accounts, compare them to see which terms and features work best for you.

Confirm that the account is FDIC or NCUA insured

Check that the account will be FDIC insured, which means the FDIC 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.)

Some online accounts are available at nonbank tech companies, called neobanks, which partner with banks to provide FDIC insurance for their accounts.

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

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2. Gather personal documents and information

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 often 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 in to your existing account’s online dashboard. (If you’ve never had a bank account, here’s our guide to getting started.)

» MORE: Get more details on what you need to open a bank account

3. Fill out the application

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.

In most situations, you can send this information online, but some banks may ask you to fax or email additional documents — such as a copy of your driver’s license — to help verify your identity. In the case of some brick-and-mortar banks, you might need to visit a branch to provide these documents, especially if the bank can’t confirm your identity or you’ve had a history of checking account issues or you have a limited work or credit history.

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, consider kids savings accounts).

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4. Fund your new account

When you open an account online, you’ll need to make an initial deposit, or add money to the account. This step usually involves making a transfer from an existing account, but other options may include mailing a check or money order. And if your bank has local branches, you can visit one to deposit cash.

When you enter details for a transfer, choose an amount that satisfies any minimum balance or opening deposit requirement. The funds generally take a few days to process, and then you can start managing your new account.

» Banking mostly on your phone? See the best banks and credit unions for mobile banking

See more banking guides

There are many types of banks and bank accounts to choose from. Here’s a list of more specific account-opening processes:

Frequently asked questions

Most people can open a bank account online, but not everyone gets approved. Some banks can reject applicants based on previous bank account history if there’s a case of fraud or unpaid fees. This history is usually at a consumer agency called ChexSystems. If you’re denied a checking account, consider a second chance checking option that is intended to help people rebuild banking relationships.

Many of them do. 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. See our list of online and traditional banks.

Yes, you can open a bank account online without ever going into a bank branch. With an online bank or account, you mostly manage your money through the bank’s website and mobile app, though you can often call customer support for additional help.

Generally, yes. You can open a checking account online in just a few minutes with an online bank or credit union or with traditional banks and credit unions that offer online banking and checking accounts. The funds in your new account may take a few days to process, though.

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, but only initially. 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.

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