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Bank Account Basics: 6 Steps to Open a Checking Account Online

open checking account online

A checking account is an essential money management tool that serves as the main way to pay bills, go out to eat, and shop. The account can also be called a “spending” or “hub” account. Traditional checking accounts offer checks, a debit or ATM card, and online bill pay options. Debit cards tied to your primary checking account allow you to always have access to your money. No cash = no problem. 

Creating an account is simple and only requires a few steps. Before getting started, you need to decide which type of checking account fits your specific needs. 

Will you be writing lots of paper checks? Are you an avid user of your debit card? Do you want to earn interest on your balance, or do you need access to overdraft protection? Some accounts carry a monthly fee while others are conditionally free when you carry a minimum balance. Others have certain transaction and service requirements to earn you a certain percentage of your money back. 

Can you open a checking account online?

YES! Most financial institutions allow you to open an account online with a simple process. You will just need a couple of documents to verify your identity. 

Almost everything is digital in today’s world, that includes your banking. Opening a checking account is straightforward, fast, and easy!

Get the basics of how to open a checking account in this guide by exploring the different types of checking accounts.

online banking quick start kit

How long does it take to open a checking account online? 

Opening a checking account can be easy with only a few steps to follow. It can take up to 20 minutes online without having to think about going inside an actual branch.

Once you have determined that you are eligible, simply complete an online application at the financial institution of your choice and join in just a few minutes. For some financial institutions, adding accounts can also be done online in the same amount of time. 

Using online services or mobile banking is an added free service for many financial institutions. You can manage your money on the go. You can make mobile check deposits, and receive real-time mobile alerts and balances in text messages to help you stay on top of your finances.

How do you open a checking account online? Follow these 6 steps! 

1. Pick your Financial Institution

Having a reliable and trustworthy bank or credit union to handle your money is vital in this process. There are local, national, and online-only financial institutions that are available to you. Pick which one best fits your needs!

2. Select an account

Checking accounts vary slightly depending on the financial institution. Do your research online to see which account meets your specific needs. You should read through bank accounts' terms and conditions before applying. Fees, rates, and other important information about the account are generally included in these terms and conditions. Discuss which is best for you and start reaping the benefits! 

3. Gather all necessary documents

  • To open an account, a financial institution must have legal documentation to verify your identity. 
  • Government-issued ID/Driver’s License/State ID or Passport with current address.
  • Your complete physical mailing address.
  • Social Security Number.
  • Bank or Card Information for Account Funding.

4. Apply online

Going into a bank or credit union branch serves its purpose, but you never have to waste your lunch break again. Go virtual and open an account in less than 10 minutes through your preferred financial institution’s website. 

5. Fund your new account

To get your checking account started, have a plan on how you will start to fund the account. Most new checking accounts require a minimum to open the account. This could be through a debit/credit card or direct deposit.

6. Enjoy the benefits

After opening your new checking account, you get to reap all the benefits. Some include earning interest, getting a free debit card, and access to your money from anywhere through a mobile banking app. Be careful to check for monthly maintenance fees. If you meet certain requirements, you may be able to waive monthly service fees. Other fees may apply, such as ATM fees and ATM fees out of network.

If switching from one financial institution to another causes you stress, check out this switch guide. We’ve covered what you need to do when transferring to a different financial institution. 


What banks or credit unions can I open a checking account with online?

Most financial institutions, banks, and credit unions offer online applications. This allows you options to expand into different types of checking accounts and benefits offered no matter your location.

When you open a bank account, you are agreeing to a contract between you and the bank or credit union. The contract describes what kind of service you can expect from the financial institution and what kinds of services the financial institution can expect from you. Review your contract carefully before you sign it. Make sure that you understand your rights and obligations under the agreement.


The days of cash only spending is over. A checking account is the easiest way to transfer money, make purchases, and keep track of your spending

With an automatic calculator, there is no need to manually balance your checkbook again! With a checking account, you can enjoy your days without having to worry about how much is left after the monthly bills have been paid. 

Need help getting started? Leaders Credit Union is a great place to start. As a member-owned financial cooperative, Leaders offers checking accounts that help you move forward with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. Learn more about Leaders checking accounts and begin the online application process which takes just a few minutes. We are here to guide you on your financial journey.

Download our FREE Checking Account Switch Guide


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