Maybe you’re a high school or college student. Or maybe you just haven’t had the need to open a bank account until now. Whatever your age or motivation, it’s important to “do your homework” before opening your first bank account - to ensure you get what it is that you need, and to make the account opening process as smooth and painless as possible.
Here are some things to consider:
What type of account do you need?
Do you need a checking account, a savings account, or both? If you’re looking to pay routine bills like rent or utilities, make purchases with a debit card, or withdraw cash on a regular basis from an ATM, a checking account is likely the way to go. If your intent is to save money or establish an emergency fund, you’re going to want a savings account.
What features do you need, and what fees are you looking to avoid?
One of the biggest considerations when opening a savings account is the interest rate. When you deposit money into a savings account, you typically earn interest on that money. And the higher the interest rate, the more money you’ll earn! You should also look to see if there is a minimum balance required in order to earn interest.
There are even some checking accounts that offer interest. Online banks like Bank5 Connect typically don’t have as many overhead costs as brick-and-mortar banks, so they’re able to offer high-interest checking accounts.
It’s also important to read all the fine print associated with an account and understand any fees you could be subject to. Some checking accounts charge a monthly maintenance fee, or charge you a fee if you don’t maintain a certain balance. Luckily, many banks offer checking accounts that are free of these types of monthly fees. Bank5 Connect’s High Interest Checking account doesn’t charge a monthly maintenance fee or a minimum balance fee (however, you do need to maintain a minimum balance of $100 in order to earn interest).
How do you plan to access and manage your money?
These days there are many ways for you to keep track of your bank account. Most banks offer online and mobile banking. Through the bank’s website or mobile app you can typically check balances, transfer money between accounts, pay bills, and view statements. In some cases you can even set up email and text message alerts to warn you about low balances or suspicious activity. If you’re looking to utilize these types of tools to manage your finances, it’s a good idea to ensure your bank offers them before you open an account.
And then there’s the matter of ATMs. Your ATM or debit card will give you access to your bank’s network of ATMs, but what happens if you use an ATM outside of the network? What fees will you face? Will your bank waive those fees? If having ATM flexibility is important to you, you should be sure to review the bank’s ATM policy thoroughly. At Bank5 Connect, in addition to offering our customers free access to thousands of ATMs nationwide through the SUM ATM network, we don’t charge our customers a fee for using an ATM outside of the network. What’s more, we will reimburse them for other banks’ surcharges up to $15 per statement cycle!
What information will I have to provide the bank with?
Whether you’re opening an account online, or in-person at a branch, you’re going to need to formally identify yourself. If you’re opening your account at the bank, they’ll typically require you to show them a valid, government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, state ID card, or a passport. Some banks require a second form of ID as well, such as a social security card or birth certificate.
If you apply online, you’ll have to enter your license number, passport number, or ID card number, and you’ll have to supply additional information such as your Social Security number, phone number, physical mailing address, and email address. You may also have to answer “ID verification” questions online to prove you are who claim to be.
And remember that if you’re under the age of 18, you’ll need a parent or legal guardian to apply with you as a joint account holder. They’ll need to be with you if you apply in-person, and if you apply online they’ll need to be present to enter all of their identifying information into the application.
Lastly, you’ll need to provide the bank with money to fund the account. Some banks allow you to fund your new account with a credit card, others will require the initial funds be deposited in cash, by check, or through a transfer from an existing account.