What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account Online?
Greater convenience and flexibility are among the reasons that online banking has become more popular. After all, who wants to wait in a line for half an hour just to transfer money? No one! This is why some people are turning to online banking as an alternative. It allows you to send money, pay bills, and deposit checks without many of the hassles that come with traditional banking. Plus, because online banking is less resource-heavy (fewer branches, etc.), it tends to come with greater member benefits, including higher-yield savings, generous signing bonuses, and even cashback rewards.
However, despite all of its inherent benefits, online banking can seem intimidating to those who aren’t familiar with it. Whether you’re switching to online banking for the first time or simply want to be prepared as best you can, we’ve put together a guide to help you successfully open a bank account online.
Choose the Right Bank
While online banking is quickly becoming supported by more and more banks, it’s still not supported by all of them. So, if you’re interested in online banking, it’s important to make sure that you’re actually with one that supports it.
Banks that support online banking typically make it very clear on their website, but you can also contact a representative directly to ask for a clearer answer. If your bank does support online banking but you’re not yet set up to use it, transitioning is usually a swift and straightforward process on their website. Often, you can also book an appointment with a representative from your bank to help you through the process.
Unfortunately, if your bank doesn’t support online banking, you’ll need to switch to one that does to be able to bank online.
There usually aren’t many (if any) extra requirements you must meet to upgrade to online banking if you already have a traditional bank account. However, if you’re opening up an online account at a new bank for the first time, you’re going to need to meet certain requirements.
Fortunately, these requirements usually aren’t very difficult to meet for most people. Oftentimes, other than downloading a mobile app and signing up for an account, the requirements for opening up an online bank account in the United States are as follows:
- Be a US Citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Be 18 years or older
- Have a physical US address
- Have a valid Social Security Number
In some cases, you may also need to provide your driver’s license and/or a current photo ID to verify your identity. You should also be prepared to undergo what’s called a “soft credit check”, which some banks require.
Have a Supported Device
Naturally, if you’re going to begin banking online, you’re going to need a device that allows you to do that. In many cases, this means having a supported smartphone, as many online banks’ services are on a mobile app. However, while you may plan to do the majority of your online banking on your phone, there’s a good chance that you’re going to do at least some of it on your computer as well. Therefore, be sure that your computer and its software are supported as well.
Have Sufficient Internet Access and/or Data
For an optimal online banking experience, you want to ensure a constant connection to the internet regardless of where you go. The best way to do this is to combine an at-home WiFi setup with an extensive cellular data plan, which you can tap into for internet access should you want to do any on-the-go online banking.
Make Your First Deposit
Depositing money into your new online bank account typically “activates” your account. At some banks, making a big enough deposit can also qualify you for signing bonuses. Similarly, regularly depositing enough money into online bank accounts can often open up other benefits, such as generous APYs and cashback rewards.
Online banking may seem intimidating, especially if you’re used to banking in-person, but when you know what to expect, making the transition can be a very simple process. With this guide, you should be able to effortlessly open your first bank account online and start experiencing the best of what modern banking has to offer.