You no longer have to walk into a bank to open an account. You can apply for a new bank account online in minutes.
You’ll have to choose the right financial institution and account that fits your needs, whether it’s for everyday banking or long-term savings. The first thing to note is the account’s annual percentage yield, or APY, which determines how much of a return you’ll get on your money. You should also compare features, balance requirements and account fees at different banks.
Doing some research ahead of time will make you better equipped to manage your money and reach your financial goals. Here’s what to look for when you open a new bank account online.
1. Choose an account How to choose a bank or credit union
We all have different preferences when it comes to banking. You might want to open an account with a familiar credit union, or one with nearby in-person banking services. Or you could pick an online bank for convenience, better APYs and evolving banking features, like early direct deposit.
Make sure to compare account perks and offers from several banks to see where you can get the best deals and savings. Consider these questions before choosing an account:
Can you open an account online? While most banks offer online accounts, some with physical branches require you to show up in person to open certain accounts. Be sure to check the requirements first.
Are your deposits federally insured? The bank or credit union you choose should be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Program or the National Credit Union Administration. FDIC and NCUA insurance protects your deposits up to $250,000 per person, per bank, for each account category. That means your deposits are protected if your bank declares bankruptcy or goes out of business.
Is it an interest-earning account? The Federal Reserve has raised the federal funds rate since early 2022, which has pushed APYs for deposit accounts higher. Right now, you can earn the most interest on your deposits with high-yield savings accounts, money market accounts and certificates of deposit (CD accounts).
Do you need easy access to a physical location? If access to a physical branch is important, consider a local bank, credit union or a national bank with branches in your area. If in-person customer service isn’t important to you, online-only banks often come with better perks and benefits.
What are the fees and minimum balance requirements?
Some banks charge monthly maintenance fees, out-of-network ATM fees or overdraft fees. Other banks have minimum balance requirements or transaction caps. Keep in mind that online-only banks tend to have fewer overhead costs and pass the savings on to you through lower fees and higher APYs.
Types of online bank accounts
Here’s an overview of different bank accounts you might be interested in opening online:
A checking account is great for regular deposits and withdrawals. It usually pays only modest (if any) interest on your balance, and there may be fees. These accounts usually come with checks and a debit card.
• A high-yield savings account may offer a relatively high APY, especially compared to a regular savings account at a traditional banking institution. Online banks tend to offer more competitive APYs.
A money market account combines elements of a traditional checking account and a high-yield savings account, allowing you to make withdrawals and earn a higher interest rate on your money. These accounts often come with higher minimum balance requirements and fees.
2. Gather what you need for the application
Once you’ve picked an online account type and a bank or credit union, it’s time to get the application started. Whether you’re opening an individual account, or you want to share access with a partner, parent or child with a joint account, you’ll have to gather some documentation.
Here are some of the personal details you’ll likely need to provide:
Driver’s license or another type of government-issued ID
Bill with your name, like a utility or phone bill
Physical address, email address, phone number
Social Security number
3. Fill out the bank application
Most online bank applications let you upload or input your documentation securely. If you’re opening a joint account, your co-applicant will probably be required to provide some or all of these details as well. Find out what your bank requires from co-applicants before you complete your application.
4. Make a deposit
You can make your first deposit into your new bank account immediately, but many banks don’t require this. If your bank does require a minimum deposit, find out how much so you can have the amount handy.