How To Open a Bank Account Online

Online Bank Accounts You Can Open From Anywhere

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If you're looking for a new bank account, you can easily open one from the comfort of your own. Opening a bank account online is easy and should only take a few minutes. You may be able to open an account for a local bank or credit union, or an online-only bank, right on your laptop or smartphone. That means no trips to a branch or paper forms are required. It's all handled digitally, and once your account is open, you can transfer funds and pay bills online. Below, we lay out the steps for how to open a bank account online.

Key Takeaways

  • To open a bank account online, you'll need your birth date, Social Security number, driver's license or another form of ID, contact info, and funding information.
  • While you won't need to visit a physical bank branch, you may need to sign a document with an e-signature or wait for forms to come in the mail.
  • If you're under 18 years old, have thin credit, a bad history with checking accounts, or something else, you may find it challenging to open a bank account online.

What You Need To Open a Bank Account Online

To open a bank account online, be prepared to provide personal information so the bank can verify your identity. You may also need to arrange for electronic deposits to your new online bank account. Gather the following items before you start the process.

Personal Information

You need to tell the bank who you are and provide personal details about yourself. Be prepared to give:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your date of birth
  • Any government-issued ID numbers (driver’s license, passport, U.S. military ID, etc.) with the issue and expiration dates

Contact Information

Banks need your home address, phone number, and email address. Even though you’re operating in the virtual world, federal law requires you to provide a physical address—where you actually live—but you can also give a post office box or the equivalent as a mailing address.

Funding Information

Banks often require an initial deposit to get your account opened; typically, it's from $25 to $100. To do that, you might be able to use a credit or debit card, or a check or money order. Alternatively, you can provide routing and account numbers to connect a separate bank account and then transfer money.

Signatures and E-Signatures for Online Bank Accounts

With some banks, you’re done opening your account once you provide all of the information above. You can sign any legal agreements with an e-signature and can start using the account almost immediately. Even many small credit unions and regional banks accept e-signatures. If you have an idea of where you’d like to bank, simply visit that institution’s website and look for an option to “Open an Account Now.”

Other banks let you begin your application online but eventually require an actual signature. In such situations, you typically get a "Welcome Kit" in the mail containing any required documents, including a signature form. Although the writing of paper checks is declining, some banks still like your file to contain an official signature to verify a check or debit card purchase in the event of a dispute.


If the bank needs your signature on paper, you may need to wait longer before using your account while the bank processes your paperwork.

If you need to use your new account quickly, call the bank or chat with a representative on the website, and ask what the process is. You might be better off opening an account in person or going with a bank that lets you open an account entirely online.

Challenges Opening a Bank Account Online

In some cases, you need to visit a branch or provide additional documentation to open an account.

“Thin” Credit

Banks verify your identity as you open your account. One of the ways they do this is by checking your credit. (Yes, they check your credit even if you’re not borrowing money or opening a credit card.) If you don’t have much of a credit history—because you’re young and haven’t borrowed enough to build credit, for example—they won’t find anything. As a result, they may require you to visit a brick-and-mortar branch with a government-issued ID to open your account.

Under 16 or 18 Years Old

People under the age of 16 or 18 may not be able to open a bank account online on their own. If you’re underage and want a checking or savings account, there are bank accounts you can explore, but you will need a co-signer who is 18 years or older on the account and might need to visit a branch in person.


Online-only banks have been available for years and may be even easier to open than traditional brick-and-mortar banks.

Checking Account History

If you have overdrawn checking accounts or have been suspected of fraud in the past—or shared an account with someone who has—you might not be able to open a new checking account online. Be sure to review your ChexSystems report for errors if you’re having a hard time getting an account. Again, you might have better luck at a branch.


If you're a U.S. citizen, opening a bank account online should be easy (in theory). If you're not a citizen, though, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Visiting a branch might be necessary. Some banks might require a different process when you open accounts with an ITIN. Other banks and credit unions may allow you to open a bank account with a foreign passport or Consular ID, such as the Matricula Consular card.

Entity Accounts

Most banks allow people to open an account online. If you need an account for a business, trust, or other organization, some banks require you to head to the branch or submit account forms by mail. The ability to open these accounts online is increasingly available, but it’s still not a given.

To open a business account, you will need:

  • Employer identification number (EIN)
  • Business formation documents (articles of organization and operating agreement)
  • Federal, state, and local business licenses and permits, if applicable

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you open a checking account online instantly?

It depends on your definition of instantly. It likely takes no more than a few minutes to open a checking account online for most banks and credit unions.

Can you open a bank account online for my child?

You can usually open a separate bank account for your child online if you already have an account at the financial institution. But consider whether your child would benefit or enjoy the experience of visiting a bank branch and following the steps in person.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. "8000 - Miscellaneous Statutes and Regulations. PART 1020—Rule for Banks.§ 1020.220 Customer Identification Program Requirements for Banks."

  2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "A Newcomer’s Guide To Managing Money: Checklist for Opening a Bank or Credit Union Account."

  3. Bank of America. "Applying for Bank Accounts FAQs: How Do I Make an Initial Deposit for an Account That I Just Opened?"

  4. Wells Fargo. "ESIGN Consent to Use Electronic Records and Signatures (ESIGN Consent)."

  5. Truliant Federal Credit Union. "How Do I Use Docusign?"

  6. Bank of America. "Applying for Bank Accounts FAQs: What's a Signature Form? Why Do I Need to Send It Back to You?"

  7. Bank of America. "Before You Apply."

  8. Wells Fargo. "Student and Teen Checking."

  9. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "When Can I Be Denied a Checking Account Based on My Past Banking History?"

  10. PNC Bank. "International Students."

  11. U.S. Small Business Administration. "Open a Business Bank Account."

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