Banking online can make transactions that used to be tedious and time-consuming fast and easy. You can deposit and transfer money, pay bills, access your account history, and more—all from your laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and at any time that’s convenient for you.
In many cases, you can even open your bank account online. That means that rather than make a trip to a branch, wait to meet with a representative, and sign a stack of paper forms, the process is all handled digitally.
If you’re opening an account at an online bank, opening an account online may be your only option. Leading online banks are FDIC-insured and typically offer higher interest rates than traditional brick-and-mortar banks, and may also charge low or no fees.
Once you open a checking or savings account online, you can transfer funds, set up direct deposit, and make payments right from your account using the bank’s online dashboard or mobile app. You may also have access to paper checks that can get mailed to your home.
Here are some key things to know about opening a bank account online.
Can Anyone Open a Bank Account Online?
Banks typically make it easy for any customer to open an account online. There are some cases, however, when you might be required to visit a branch or provide additional documentation to open an account.
This could happen, for example, if you’re young and haven’t yet established much credit history. Banks will often verify your identity by checking your credit (even if you’re not borrowing money), normally using a “soft-pull”, which will not affect your credit score. If they aren’t able to do that, they may require you to visit a branch to show a government-issued ID in order to open your account.
Another instance where you may need to go into a bank is if you’re under 18 and need a cosigner to open a bank account. In that case, you and the cosigner will likely have to open a bank account in person
Considering What Kind of Account to Open Online
Before you start the online application, it can be a good idea to consider whether you want a single account (where you are the sole owner) or a joint account (where you co-own the account with another person, like a significant other or family member).
You may also want to think about what type of bank account you want.
If you’ll primarily be using this account for paying expenses, you may want to open a checking account with no or low fees. If you are putting money aside for short-term goals, like saving for a home, car, or vacation, you may want to go with a savings account that earns a good interest rate. Or, you may also want to consider opening both types of accounts.
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How to Open a Bank Account Online
To open an account online, you’ll need to gather some basic information, including:
• Your Social Security number.
• Valid driver’s license or other government-issued ID.
• Contact information, including home address, phone number, and email.
• Other bank account information. If the institution requires you to make an initial deposit, you will need debit card information or the routing and account number from another bank account you own (you can find these on a check or by logging into your existing account’s online dashboard).
• A username and password that you want to use for the account.
You’ll then want to visit the bank’s website and look for an option along the lines of “Open an Account Now.”
Once you input all of your information, you may be able to use the account almost immediately. Some banks, however, may require an actual signature (rather than an e-signature) and will send you welcome documents in the mail that you can sign and send back. Once received, the account will be fully open.
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Using Your Online Bank Account
Once your account is set up, here are some additional steps you may want to take.
Activating Your Debit Card
If your account includes a debit card, it will be mailed to you. You can then follow the instructions provided and set up a pin number. Typically, you can do this online or by phone, using the contact number that appears on a sticker attached to the card.
Automating Your Account
To do this, you’ll likely need to gather paperwork from service providers. You can then follow the on-screen prompts, and call customer service if you need assistance.
You may also want to contact your employer in order to set up direct deposit. This typically involves filling out a direct deposit authorization form. Some companies handle this process entirely online and some use a third party to sign you up.
Keeping an Eye on Your Account
You can track deposits, ATM withdrawals, and other transactions on your computer or anywhere you go using a mobile banking app, if one is available. There’s no need to wait for a monthly statement to arrive in your email or mailbox.
The app may allow you to link to other accounts within the same financial institution, as well as accounts you have elsewhere, and can also provide an overall view of your financial picture that could be useful for saving and budgeting.
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These days, it’s possible to do most of our banking online–even opening your account.
Opening a bank account online is typically quick and easy. The process typically requires gathering some personal information, so the bank can verify your identity. You may also need to have the routing and account number of an existing account in order to make an initial deposit into your account.
Once opened, you can then use your new account to pay bills, set up direct deposit for your paychecks, access cash at local ATMs, build savings, and keep track of your spending and saving.
Looking for Something Different?
If you’re looking for an account where you can earn interest, spend, and save all in one place, you may want to consider opening a cash management account, such as SoFi Money®.
With SoFi Money, you can separate your savings from your spending while earning competitive interest on all your money. Plus, you won’t pay any account fees and will have access to 55,000+ (fee-free) ATMs worldwide.
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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.