There are several options out there when opening a bank account. These include several banks, credit unions, and bank account types you can go with. It is important to establish your financial goals to help guide you in your decisions and to make the most of your account. Generally, after you’ve made your choice on what account and bank works best for you, the steps for signing up for a bank account is pretty easy!
Not every American has a bank or feels they qualify for one. Approximately 5.4 percent of U.S. households or 7.1 million Americans are unbanked according to the 2019 FDIC survey.
Although not everyone has a bank account, having one provides advantages to the holder. A major advantage is safety. Bank accounts are much safer than holding cash on hand or storing it within your home as your money is more susceptible to theft and fire. Up to $250,000 of your money is federally insured so if your FDIC-insured bank or NCUA-insured credit union were to close, you will still get your money back. Having an account also makes it easier to manage your finances. Keep reading on to learn more about the advantages of each of the bank account types that you can choose from. We will also be covering Washington state specific bank account opportunities that you may want to consider.
Once you’ve made the decision, you can follow the basic steps below to open an account.
There are three basic types of financial institutions. These include banks, credit unions, and online banks and credit unions.
When you’re shopping around for where you want to open your account, make note of the usage restrictions and fees. These costs can quickly add up, but institutions can often provide ways for you to avoid these additional fees. There may also be special offers for you if you’re a student, military member, first time customer, etc. Talk to your institution of interest to see what opportunities they may have that are available to you.
Once you’ve decided which bank to go with, you need to choose what account type you would like. There are a variety of options available. These include the following:
In general, a good rule of thumb is to choose an option with a mix of features that suit your financial needs and goals with fees that meet your budget.
If you have access to the internet and a computer or mobile device, you can often open your bank account remotely through the website of your desired institution. You can open the account anytime and anywhere if you do so online. Be careful that you do not go into an imposter site with similar names as your desired bank account.
If you prefer to open your account in person with the advantage of having a banker answer all your questions there, you will need to visit them during their business hours. Either way you decide to open your account, make sure to have the following with you:
The next step to opening your account is to agree to the terms and conditions of the account. This step is completed once you hit “I agree” online or sign your contract in person. Make sure you understand what you are signing and ask any questions you have.
Often as part of opening an account you will need to make an initial deposit. This can be done through cash, check or money order, direct deposit, or transfer of funds electronically.
For checking and savings accounts you will receive a debit card in the mail. You may desire a checkbook to make note of your spending. These are many features you can take advantage of when using your account. This can include:
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions protects you and aims to help advance the financial health of Washington State by regulating financial services and educating consumers on how to make informed financial choices. You can verify a license, improve your financial education, file a complaint, and perform other actions through the following link.
Your financial history does not need to be perfect to open an account. However, it can affect the bank’s decision to approve your application. Many banks may check your credit and bad credit may sometimes lead to denials. Make sure to ask customer service if you have any concerns about this.
Once you’ve decided what institution and bank account you want to open, the application process can take as little as 15 minutes to complete. It may take a couple of days for the bank to verify your information.
If you want to open a bank account with another person, you need the personal information of all the account holders and a signature from each of them. It is easiest to have everybody together when opening the account.
If you have any additional questions, speak to your banker or financial advisor for assistance.