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How Can I Easily Open Bank Accounts?

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Question: How Can I Easily Open Bank Accounts?

Ready to open a bank account but not sure how? The process is easy, and we've broken it down into several separate steps. Use this document as a checklist if you like; you'll always know what you need to do next, and you'll find helpful ideas as you complete each step.

You'd be surprised how often people ask "what is the easiest way to open bank accounts?" The answer: just get started.

Open Your Bank Account Step 1: Choose an Institution

You may have already done this. If not, shop around. What type of account do you want? A savings account? A free checking account? Should you use a credit union? See who has the features you want and and who offers competitive rates. Remember that you might do business with this institution for years, and it's likely that you'll use several of their services over that time.

Open Your Bank Account Step 2: Go to the Bank or Website

The easiest way to get this done is to find the institution’s website. Search for the bank on Google, or visit a website listed on the bank's marketing materials. The advantage of opening accounts online is that you can do it at any time, from anywhere. However, if you're only comfortable opening a bank account in person you can simply show up at the branch during business hours. Be sure to bring identification and any initial deposit that's required.

Open Your Bank Account Step 3: Pick the Product You Want

Any financial institution will have a variety of account types and services that you can mix and match. They’ll all have fancy names that you may need to learn, but they're basically the same products you'll find elsewhere: checking accounts, savings accounts, and loans. Pick the option that has a mix that is right for you. For example, if you'll keep a low balance in the account, be sure to use an account that keeps fees at a minimum (avoid the accounts that require a large balance in order to qualify for fee waivers).

When working online, you may have to drill down to the product that is right for you. You might click “Open an Account”, and then click “Checking”, and finally “Free Checking”. If you open your accounts in person, you can just chat with a banker who will help you find the best account for your needs.

Open Your Bank Account Step 4: Provide Your Information

In order to open an account, you must provide some information to the bank. They do not open bank accounts without certain details about you. This is to protect them and to comply with a variety of regulations. You’ll need to provide simple details like your name and birthday, as well as identification numbers (in the U.S. this is most likely your Social Security Number). You should also be prepared to provide a valid government ID (such as a Driver’s License).

If you’re doing this online, you’ll just type the information into a textbox. If you open your accounts in person you'll hand your ID’s over to the banker, who will probably make photocopies.

Open Your Bank Account Step 5: Agree to Terms

You’ll have to agree to abide by certain rules and accept responsibility for certain actions. When you open an account at a bank, you form a relationship based on a very important subject – your money. Therefore you should know what you’re getting into. If you open bank accounts online, you complete this step by clicking an “I Agree” (or similar) button, and performing the next step.

Open Your Bank Account Step 6: Print, Sign, and Mail (If Applicable)

If you open bank accounts in person, this step does not apply. Skip to Step 7. If you are opening an account online, you’ll probably have to print, sign, and mail a document to the bank before the account is opened. Some banks may use electronic disclosure and consent that is legally binding, but many still won’t open bank accounts unless you complete this step. Until they receive the documents, your account is not active.

Open Your Bank Account Step 7: Congratulate Yourself!

Congratulations, you are the proud owner of a new account.

Now, you’ll just need to wait a few days to a few weeks for the bank to process your paperwork (the process is getting faster and faster -- so you might only need to wait a few minutes). Then, they will mail you anything you need for the account such as checkbooks and debit cards.

Opening bank accounts is really quite easy as long as you know what to expect. Just be ready to complete the required steps.

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