Opening a Checking Account
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Opening a Checking Account
There are many types of checking accounts you can open at a bank or credit union. This can cause some confusion. The resources below will help you shop around for an account that fits your needs.
Get to know common terms
Click on a financial term to learn more.
An account at a financial institution (bank or credit union) where you can deposit money and write checks for purchases.
An account used to hold money for short-term or long-term goals or emergencies. The account can earn interest set by the financial institution (bank or credit union). Many times withdrawals from this account can be limited.
An overdraft occurs when you don’t have enough money in your account to cover a transaction, but the bank pays the transaction anyway. You can overdraw your account through checks, ATM transactions, debit card purchases, automatic bill payments, and electronic or in-person withdrawals.
Many banks and credit unions offer overdraft protection programs in which the bank or credit union generally pays the transaction and charges you a fee (in addition to requiring repayment of the overdraft amount). Overdrafts can also be covered through a transfer of funds from a linked account, credit card or line of credit.
An NSF or non-sufficient funds fee may occur when your check or electronic authorization is not paid due to a lack of funds in your account this is commonly referred to as a “returned” or “bounced” check.
How to open an account
Follow these steps to open your new checking account.
Things to bring
Ask your banker what items you will need to open up your new account. These might include:
Your initial deposit
Identification (driver’s license, passport, state ID, etc.)
A bill with your name and address on it
After comparing accounts at different banks and credit unions, choose the one that best fits your needs
Call in advance and ask questions about services the bank or credit union provides. For example, ask about minimum balance requirements, fees, etc
Schedule an appointment to open the account.
WHAT TO BRING
Ask what information you need to bring. Usually you will need to bring an initial deposit, a form of identification, and a bill with your name and address on it
READ TERMS & CONDITIONS
Before signing for your new account, read all the terms and conditions. If there is something you don’t understand, ask the representative. Never sign something you don’t understand.
Consider these questions before opening a checking account
- Is there a minimum deposit required to open the account?
- How much are the monthly fees?
- Can the monthly fees be waived?
- Is there a minimum balance requirement?
- Are there overdraft or non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees?
- Is there a limit on the number of transactions?
- Does the account have online and mobile access?
- Does the account have free ATM access in-network or out-of-network?
- Is the bank or credit union insured?
- Is it easy to access your money?
- Can you pay your bills online for free?
- Can you have alerts on your account?
- Do you receive monthly statements electronically or paper?
- Is there a cost for money orders
- Are the ATM and branch locations near you?
Maintain your account to avoid fees
By avoiding these fees, you can save money and keep from having your account closed.
COMMON BANKING FEES
ChexSystems is a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. ChexSystems reports information on closed checking and savings accounts. Banks use this report to determine whether or not to open an account to someone who has banking history reported on ChexSystems. You can get a copy of your ChexSystems report by visiting their website or calling the number below.