Depending on how you open a bank account and what type of account you need, different materials may be required. At a minimum, you must provide proof of your age, address, and legal status, whether you open the account in person, on the phone, or on the Internet. Prepare to set aside at least half an hour to complete the process, and gather your supporting materials first so that you are ready to go. If you are opening a joint account with another person or a cosigner, collect all of your information and plan on being together to open the account.
Before you get started, determine what kind of account you want and where you want to bank. Most people have a checking account, which allows them to deposit money and then write checks or use a debit card to pay bills. Depending on the bank, you may be able to get an interest-bearing checking account, which will allow you to earn money on your deposit. In this instance, the bank will probably require a minimum balance, typically around $1,000 US Dollars (USD), and if your balance dips below this amount, you will be charged a fee. If you just want to put money away, you will want to research various types of savings accounts, which earn interest on your deposit, but do not have the flexibility of checking.
You also have options when it comes to banks when you open an account. If you travel or move a great deal, you will probably want to consider a large chain bank, which will have many automatic teller machines (ATMs) for you to access cash from, as well as many physical branches. If, however, you prefer to do business locally or do not travel a great deal, a local bank or credit union is a good choice, and it will support your local economy.
When you open a bank account in person, you will need identification that proves your age, such as a driver's license or passport; proof of address, such as a utility sent to your home; and an additional proof of your legal status, such as a Social Security number or passport. You should also bring money to deposit. Go into the branch when it isn't too busy so that you can be helped quickly by the bank staff, and be sure to ask about fees associated with the account before you sign any paperwork. Once you have completed all the information, you will be given a passbook and temporary checks, if you have opened a checking account, to use until the bank mails you the official documents.
You can also open a bank account over the phone or on the Internet. Your supporting information is given to the banker over the phone or entered into a form, and the bank will request that you send in your signature to finalize the account. Once the bank has received your signature, it will send your checks, official passbook, and other materials related to your new account.