Opening a checking and savings account, whether at an online bank, a brick-and-mortar one, or a credit union, can be a major step towards good money management. With an account set up, you’ll likely be able to receive your paycheck as a direct deposit, swipe a debit card to pay for purchases, and access tools to help you save towards some short-term goals.
But you may worry that you need a chunk of change to open an account. The truth is, though, that you may be able to start an account with zero cash deposited.
While each bank can set its own minimum deposits, some will let you open an account with a single dollar or even no money at all. Or you might encounter certain financial institutions or account types that require $100, $500, or more. You might even find that the account with the higher deposit minimum is the better fit for you.
To better understand minimum deposit and minimum balance requirements, read on. You’ll learn how to make an informed choice by delving into:
• What are the requirements to open a checking account?
• What are the requirements to open a savings account?
• What is a minimum initial deposit at online banks, brick-and-mortar banks, and credit unions?
• What are some tips for opening a bank account?
What Is a Minimum Initial Deposit?
A minimum initial deposit is the amount of money that a financial institution requires you to deposit in order to open an account. In some cases, this can be as little as $1 or even nothing at all; in other cases, it could be $100 or considerably higher.
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
• 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. Here’s how to get the cash into a new 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.
Bank Minimum Initial Deposit vs. Minimum Balance Requirement
When thinking about how much money you need to start a bank account, it’s important to understand the difference between your initial deposit and your ongoing balance requirement. 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 Does It Cost to Open a Bank Account?
Let’s get down to the dollars and cents of this topic: How much money do you need to open a bank account?
Minimum Opening Deposit for Online Banks
When opening an online bank account, it’s typical to have low or $0 minimum initial deposits for a checking account. Because online banks don’t have to pay for physical locations, they typically are able to pass the savings along to their clients with lower or no minimum deposit requirements.
They may also offer other perks like an annual percentage yield (or APY) on a checking account or a higher APY than elsewhere on savings accounts.
Minimum Opening Deposit for Brick-and-Mortar Banks
If you were to open a bank account at a traditional bank (also known as a brick-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 or premium accounts, which may be interest-bearing checking accounts and offer rewards, can also set the bar higher for how much money is required to get started. 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.
Minimum Opening Deposit for Credit Unions
How much money do you need to open a checking account at a credit union? If you prefer to open a checking account at a credit union vs. a bank, you will likely find minimum opening deposits that range from zero to $25.
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Can You Open a Bank Account With No Money?
You can probably open a bank account with no money. As mentioned above, you are most likely to find this kind of checking account offered at an online bank vs. a traditional bank.
Before you open this kind of account, though, it can be wise to make sure you understand the terms of the account, including the fine print. Factors to consider include what, if any, fees will be assessed, what balance you may need to maintain, and how and when you need to fund the account.
Recommended: What to Know If You’ve Been Denied a Checking Account
Difference Between Checking & Savings
Checking accounts and savings accounts are both types of deposit accounts. You can find them at online banks, brick-and-mortar banks, and credit unions. But in terms of what they’re designed to do and how they work, they aren’t identical. Here’s a closer look at checking vs. savings accounts.
|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|
Tips for Opening a Bank Account
Perhaps you have in mind the kind of account you’d like to open or the financial institution that seems to be the best match with your needs. Here’s advice on moving ahead with opening an account.
Helpful Tips for Putting Money Into a Checking Account
Congratulations if you’ve just opened a checking account. Consider taking these steps:
• Once your checking account is open, you can continue adding money to it. You may be able to make deposits from your mobile device, at the teller window or at ATMs. Setting up direct deposit can be a good move, too: It means you don’t have to worry about manually depositing checks.
• Determine how much you should keep in your checking account. If your account has a minimum balance requirement to avoid a fee, then you’d need to keep at least that amount in checking, plus a little extra if you want a cash 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 the account. That can make it less likely that you’ll run into overdrafts.
• Wondering how often should you monitor your checking account? It can be a good idea to log in to your online banking or mobile banking at least once a week. If you sign up for convenient automatic payments of bills, such as utilities, 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.
• Consider linking accounts. You might want to link a savings account to your checking account as a backup payment source. If your checking account balance gets low, this can help you avoid bouncing checks or incurring some fees.
Helpful Tips for Putting Money Into a Savings Account
If it’s a savings account that you’ve opened, consider this advice:
• You may want to earmark a portion of your direct deposit paycheck to go into a savings account to effortlessly build up your cash reserves there.
• Another way to fund your savings (such as an emergency fund) is to set up automatic transfers from your checking account the day after payday. This can whisk money out of your checking account before you are tempted to spend it.
• Shop around for the best possible APY. Interest rates are climbing, and you may be able to snag a great deal. Online savings accounts typically pay more than those at brick-and-mortar banks.
Checking and savings accounts can make your financial life easier, and you may be able to open an account with very little in terms of an initial deposit, even no money at all. 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 online banking, consider opening a SoFi Checking and Savings account. You’ll earn a competitive APY, pay no account fees, receive a debit card with cashback rewards, and have access to a suite of financial tools that can help your savings grow.
3 Great Benefits of Direct Deposit
- It’s Faster
- It’s Like Clockwork
- It’s Secure
As opposed to a physical check that can take time to clear, you don’t have to wait days to access a direct deposit. Usually, you can use the money the day it is sent. What’s more, you don’t have to remember to go to the bank or use your app to deposit your check.
Whether your check comes the first Wednesday of the month or every other Friday, if you sign up for direct deposit, you know when the money will hit your account. This is especially helpful for scheduling the payment of regular bills. No more guessing when you’ll have sufficient funds.
While checks can get lost in the mail — or even stolen, there is no chance of that happening with a direct deposit. Also, if it’s your paycheck, you won’t have to worry about your or your employer’s info ending up in the wrong hands.
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 4.20% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 4/25/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.
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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.