How Much Money Is Needed to Start a Bank Account?

By Rebecca Lake · March 22, 2022 · 6 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

How Much Money Is Needed to Start a Bank Account?

You know that checking and savings can make money management easier, but were you aware that you may be able to open an account with literally no cash deposited?

Generally, the amount of money you’ll need to open a bank account is whatever the bank requires for a minimum initial deposit. Depending on the bank and the type of account, this may be as little as $1 or even $0 if the bank allows you to make your initial deposit after opening your account. It’s possible, however, that you might need $100, $500, or more to start other types of bank accounts.

Understanding minimum deposit and minimum balance requirements can help you decide which checking and savings option to open and where. Let’s take a closer look so you can make an informed choice.

Recommended: How to Open a Bank Account Online

Requirements for Opening a Checking Account

The requirements for opening a checking account can vary from bank to bank. If you’re interested in how to open a bank account online or in person, you’ll typically need to provide these things to get started:

•   Your name

•   Date of birth

•   Address

•   Phone number and email

•   Social Security number

•   Government-issued photo ID

If you’re opening a bank account with someone else, a.k.a. a joint account, you’ll need the same information for them. And if you’re a student opening a student account, you may need to bring proof of enrollment at a qualifying school.

You may well be wondering, “Do I need money to open a bank account?” Possibly, but it may not be a significant sum. Banks can require an initial deposit to open your account. If you’re funding your new account online, you’ll need to give the new bank the routing number and account number for where the money will be coming from. If you are at a bricks and mortar bank or credit union, you might use a check to make an initial deposit.

Now, let’s explain an important point: If a deposit requirement is in place, that is separate from the minimum balance requirement that you may also need to meet to avoid a monthly service fee. For example, you might need to deposit $100 to open your account. However, in order to avoid a $10 monthly maintenance fee, you may need to keep an average daily balance of $500 there. A free checking account that doesn’t charge a monthly fee may not have a minimum balance requirement. Check with the bank up front so you are familiar with the terms and aren’t surprised by any fees being deducted.

How Much Money Is Required to Open a Checking Account?

Let’s get down to the dollars and cents of this topic: How much money do you need to open a bank account? Again, the answer can depend on the bank. You can open a bank account with SoFi, for example, with no minimum deposit or minimum balance requirement to get started. It’s typical for online banks to have low or $0 minimum initial deposits to open a checking account.

If you were to open a bank account at a traditional bank (also known as a bricks and mortar bank), on the other hand, you might need $25 or more for the initial deposit. And if you have two checking accounts at the same bank, it’s possible you might have to meet different initial deposits for each one.

Jumbo accounts can also set the bar higher for how much money is required to open a checking account. A jumbo account can be a checking account, savings account, money market account, or certificate of deposit (CD) account. These accounts are designed for people who tend to maintain higher balances. For example, a jumbo checking account might pay interest on balances of $1,000, $10,000, or more so you would need at least that much to open one.

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Difference Between Checking & Savings

Checking accounts and savings accounts are both types of deposit accounts. You can find them at brick-and-mortar banks, credit unions, or through online banks. But in terms of what they’re designed to do and how they work, they aren’t identical. Here’s a closer look at how checking and savings compare.

Checking

Savings

What it’s used for Holding money that you plan to spend or use to pay bills Holding money that you plan to save toward one or more financial goals
Limits on withdrawals The number of transactions allowed may be unlimited, though banks can impose caps on how much you can spend/withdraw daily, weekly or monthly Banks can limit you to six withdrawal transactions per month
Earns interest Typically no (or less than a savings account) Typically yes
Debit card/checks Included with most checking accounts Typically not offered with savings accounts

Here’s a little more insight into how much money is needed to open a checking account versus savings account. A premium checking account — one that earns interest or offers rewards, for example — will likely have a higher initial deposit requirement than a basic checking account that offers zero frills. The same is true for savings accounts. The better the benefits are (usually, this means a higher APY), the more money you might need to open an account.

Helpful Tips for Putting Money Into a Checking Account

Once your checking account is open, you can continue adding money to it. Setting up direct deposit, for instance, means you don’t have to worry about manually depositing checks. By signing up for direct deposit, you may be rewarded; for instance, at SoFi, it may be possible to get paid up to two days early when you have direct deposit into your account. You may also be able to make deposits from your mobile device, at the teller window or at ATMs.

But how much should you keep in checking? And how often should you check your checking account?

As far as what amount to keep in checking, this can depend on whether your account has a minimum balance requirement to avoid a fee. If it does, then you’d need to keep at least that amount in checking, plus a little extra if you want a cushion. If there’s no minimum balance requirement to meet, then you’d still want to keep enough in checking to avoid triggering overdraft fees. Those can hurt! So a rule of thumb you might use is to keep two months’ worth of expenses in checking. That can make it less likely that you’ll run into overdrafts.

It’s a good idea to log in to online banking or mobile banking at least once a week. Many of us sign up for convenient automatic payments of our bills, such as utilities, but that can make it challenging to remember how much money is flowing in and out of your account, and when. You could check your bank accounts daily if you want to keep a closer eye on your transaction history and balances. Apps make this a very simple process. If you’ve established a baseline amount of $2,000 you want to keep in checking, a quick check will let you see right away when your balance dips below this threshold. That can be a cue to make a deposit or temporarily curb spending until your next paycheck hits.

Setting up a credit card as a backup payment method could make sense if most of your money is in checking and you don’t have emergency savings yet. This could help you to pay for unexpected expenses without draining your checking account balance. Just keep in mind that paying off purchases over time can trigger interest charges, which can be considerable.

The Takeaway

Checking and savings can make your financial life easier if your money is all located in one convenient place. You’ll have plenty of choices when starting a checking account, including quite possibly those that can be opened with no initial deposit. When choosing a banking option, it’s important to consider the fees you might pay, the interest you could earn, and any minimum deposit or minimum balance requirements. Whenever possible, you want your bank to pay for the privilege of holding your money, not vice versa.

SoFi: Making Banking Better

If you’re interested in hassle-free banking online, consider opening SoFi checking and savings today. Here are just a few of the perks we offer our eligible members: No overdraft fees. No minimum balance fees. No monthly fees. Getting paid two days early. A 1.25% APY. A debit card with cashback rewards…and more.

See how simple and smart it is to bank with SoFi.

FAQ

How much is needed to open a checking account?

The amount of money needed to open a checking account can vary by bank. At some banks, it may be as low as $1 or even $0; at others, you might need to deposit $25, $50, or more to get started.

Can I open a checking account with no money?

It’s possible to open a checking account with no money if your bank allows you to fund your account later. For example, you may be able to open a bank account online with no money, connect an external bank account, then fund your new account with an initial deposit later.

Can I open a bank account by myself?

You can open a bank account by yourself if you’re 18 or older and have the documentation the bank requires, which can include a government ID and proof of address. If you’re under 18, you’ll generally need a parent or legal guardian to help you open a bank account.


Photo credit: iStock/michellegibson

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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