What You'll Need to Open a Checking Account

Whether this is your first checking account or one of many, preparing the documentation you need before you head to the bank will make the process smooth and simple. Opening a checking account can be quick and painless, especially if you have your things in order.

Why might you choose to open a checking account? A checking account, as opposed to a savings account, gives you open access to your money. You can freely make purchases and take out funds without having to move money around.

A savings account, on the other hand, often requires you to leave your money in it, and if you want to access it, it may take a few days to move your savings to a checking account where you can withdraw it from.

If you’re ready to head to your local bank or credit union, here’s likely what you’ll need to open a checking account:

1. Valid form of identification

Your bank will need to confirm your identity. Because of this, they’ll want at least one form of identification that is valid and government-issued. Forms of identification can be a driver’s license, passport, or a non-driver’s license state identification card.

2. Sufficient funds for an initial deposit

Many financial institutions will require a minimum amount to start a checking account. The exact amount varies by institution, but it is usually not very much. It can be as minimal as $25 at some locations. Be sure to bring cash or a check on hand ready to deposit.

3. Basic information

Along with your ID, you’ll also have to provide some details about yourself like your birth date, social security number, phone number, and address.

4. Co-applicant – if you’re not old enough!

If you’re not 18, you will probably need someone to co-own the account. This is typically a parent or guardian. They’ll need to go to the bank or credit union with you and sign some paperwork. Their name will then be on the account and any checks or paperwork that is issued.

5. Co-owner documentation

Along with your identification and personal details, the bank will probably want this information for anyone whose name will be on the account. This can be in the case where you are not old enough and need a co-owner, or if you are opening a joint checking account with your spouse or partner.

Choosing the Right Checking Account

There are many options available when you are looking to open a checking account. It can be hard to decide between heading to a big country-wide bank, a local chain, or a community credit union. Here are some of the things to watch out for when deciding the right fit for you.


One of the things you should be cautious of is if your financial institution is going to charge you any fees to have a checking account. Most do not charge fees anymore, but there may be some hidden annual charges. Be upfront and discuss this with the customer service representative who is helping you.

Direct deposit

If you have a job, one of the most important features will be direct deposit. Check with the bank and confirm this feature is offered. It means your income will go directly into your account - no paper needed.

Overdraft charges

Some banks have a policy that if your account drops below a certain amount, you are charged a fee. If possible, you always want to be aware of how much money you have in an account and try to never dip too low. However, it happens – unexpected charges occur, we forget about automatic bill payments, and so forth. In this case, it’s good to know you won’t incur an additional charge.

ATM Fees

Many financial institutions will waive the ATM fees associated with your debit card, even if you withdraw money from a different bank’s ATM. This is a nice plus, as you’ll never feel restricted when accessing your money.

Customer service

Customer service can make or break your experience. Especially when emergencies hit, having easy access to representatives at your financial institution is important.

Be sure to discover more about what the customer experience is like. Oftentimes, local small banks and credit unions are customer-focused, with short wait times and easy access to representatives.

Debit card access

Whatever checking account you open should come with a debit card. In today’s paperless day and age, you’ll want to make sure that you can get and use a debit card easily. Some banks and credit unions even offer same-day printing of debit cards, which is incredibly convenient.

Checking Accounts Are As Easy As 1-2-3

If you’re financially aware, you might be wondering how your checking account could impact your credit score. We’ve gone into some detail on this topic, so click the button below to learn more.

Open A Checking Account