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- Some banks check your criminal record, citizenship, and previous banking habits before allowing you to open an account; if you don't qualify with one institution, keep searching.
- You'll likely need a government-issued ID, Social Security card or individual tax identification number, proof of address, and an initial deposit to open a bank account.
- You may need extra documentation if you're under 18, or if you're opening a student account or joint account.
- For the most part, online banks require the same documentation as brick-and-mortar banks.
- See Business Insider's picks for the best checking accounts »
To open a bank account, you'll need basic information, such as your full legal name and contact information, plus certain documentation that banks require from every customer who opens an account. You also may need a few extra documents if you're opening a special type of account.
- Can I open a bank account?
- What to bring with you to the bank
- What to bring if you're under 18, a student, or opening a joint account
- How to open a bank account online
- How to choose a bank account
Can I open a bank account?
Research or ask about eligibility requirements before you walk into a bank to open an account.
You must be 18 to open a bank account, although you can open one if a parent or guardian co-owns the account. Some institutions will turn you away if you have a criminal record or aren't a US citizen, and others will reject you if you have a history of overdrafts or other negative activity with your previous bank.
Not all banks have the same eligibility requirements. If you find out you can't open an account with one bank, don't give up — keep looking.
What to bring with you to the bank
A government-issued ID
You can bring a driver's license, passport, or military ID to the bank.
If you don't have any of these documents and aren't ready to take a driving test, visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a state-issued ID. It's similar to a driver's license card, except it doesn't authorize you to drive — it's just a tool for identifying yourself.
Social security number (SSN) or individual tax identification number (ITIN)
If you're a US citizen, bring your Social Security card to the bank. If you're a non-US citizen, bring proof of your ITIN. If you don't have either, you can either order a replacement SSN card or apply for an ITIN online.
Proof of address
Bring a piece of mail with you that contains your home address. This shouldn't just be a letter from your parents with your address on the envelope — a bill or credit card statement should do the trick.
Not all banks require an initial deposit to open an account, but many ask for a deposit ranging from $25 to $100.
Be ready with a cash or check to make the deposit. You can also transfer money from another bank to your new account, but the other bank may charge a fee for this activity.
What to bring if you're under 18, a student, or opening a joint account
A parent or guardian if you're under age 18
You must be at least 18 years old to open a bank account on your own. You can open one if you're still a minor, but you must bring a parent or guardian with the necessary documentation to open the account with you.
Proof of enrollment if you're a student
Student accounts often come with extra perks, such as cash bonuses or waived monthly fees. You should bring proof of enrollment, like a transcript, and your student ID.
Information for both people if you're opening a joint account
If you're opening a joint account, you'll need all the necessary documentation for both people for it to officially belong to both of you.
How to open a bank account online
Opening an account online is pretty similar to doing it in person — you just don't have to make the trip.
You'll still need all the same documentation. An online bank will likely have a way for you to scan or submit pictures of necessary documents. You can't make your opening deposit in cash, so the easiest way is probably to transfer money from another bank account.
How to choose a bank account
The best bank account for you will depend on your priorities.
You may value a bank that doesn't charge monthly fees, requires a low opening deposit, or has a great mobile app. If you're opening a checking account, you probably want easy access to your money. For a savings account, you'll likely want a high interest rate.
You likely want flexible customer service hours with an online bank, and for a brick-and-mortar bank, you might care about which bank has a branch closest to your home.
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