With so much of your money being exchanged digitally, online checking can be an easy tool for financial management. An online checking account usually comes with fewer fees than many accounts at brick and mortar banks. You can arrange for direct deposits, transfer money into other accounts (even at different financial institutions), and set up automatic debit and bill pay. You can direct your financial future with a few mouse clicks, all from the comfort of your own home. Plus, opening a checking account online is quite easy.
How to Open
Before you begin, you will need to make sure that you have the following pieces of identification handy (you will also need the same information for a joint account holder):
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license
- Date of birth
You will also need to be prepared with a way to fund your new account. This usually means transferring money from another checking account (or savings account). You will need the financial institution’s routing number, as well as your account number. If you have checks, this information is easy to find on the bottom of each check.
In most cases, opening an online checking account is as easy as going to the web site and entering the information in the required fields. It often takes only a few minutes. Electronic signatures are legal, so you’re pressing of the “Agree” button, or checking the right box, when prompted is binding. Make sure that you understand the terms and conditions associated with the account, including the fee structure that might be attached to the account.
Sending in Hard Copies
Even though it isn’t legally required, some online bank accounts might require that you send in some sort of hard copy of your documentation. You may have to make a copy of your driver’s license, and send it in with a printed out signature page. Some online bank accounts might require a voided check as well. Before you go through the process of opening an account, find out what all the requirements are. The financial institutions most likely to require hard copies are banks that are brick and mortar banks foremost; banks that operate almost entirely online usually don’t require you to send in hard copies.
In some cases, you may be able to scan and email the required documentation, or signature page. Some financial institutions allow you to fax the required hard copies. If you are opening an account jointly, you will need to get the signature of the other account holder if hard copies are required.
If convenience is most important to you, you should open a checking account with an institution that does not require hard copies, scanned copies or faxed copies. There are plenty of viable options that offer this convenience. You should also find out about ATM networks (ask about fee reimbursement) so that you can access your cash, as well as debit card policies. You want to make sure you will be able to get to your money when you need it.