How to Open a Checking Account Online

You have done all your research about what online or Internet financial institution you want to do business with. You have analyzed the various kinds of checking accounts and selected the one which best fits your needs. Now, it’s boots on the ground: You are ready to open that online checking account.

There are two approaches, that is, if your online bank or credit union also has a brick-and-mortar presence. More and more traditional financial institutions are establishing online business units. Because of that, you have the option of opening your account in the physical setting. However, you will not be able to return to that facility for your questions and concerns about your online checking account. Those are to be handled through the online institution’s email and phone help lines.

The other approach is to go to the bank’s or credit union’s website for online checking. For this, of course, you need access to the Internet. You have that through a personal computer, smartphone, tablet or other kind of gadget which connects you to the Internet. Also, public libraries are among the municipal facilities which provide Internet access. You will also need an email address. If you don’t have one, you can obtain one free. Just go to a search engine such as Google or Yahoo and key in “free email providers.” There are at least 10, ranging from Google to AOL.

At the website of your financial institution, click on the icon for opening an online checking account to start the ball rolling. You will be presented with a list of terms and conditions or rules of the road about transacting business with this bank or credit union. In order to proceed with the opening process, you have to click that you “agree.” If you have questions wait before do anything. Contact the institution through email or phone.

To continue with the application, you have to provide:

  • Full name
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security number
  • Email address
  • Number on government ID, such as a driver’s license

You must make a deposit. How much depends on the amount specified by the financial institution for the type of account you selected. That deposit could take the form of:

  • Funds transferred by another account, at that or another financial institution
  • A check scanned with a smartphone or a mobile device
  • A check, money order and/or cash snail mailed to the financial institution’s postal address (Some will reimburse you for mailing charges. Find that out.)

Some of those who try to open an online checking account find that their application is denied. That is usually because ChexSystem flagged the bank that there were problems with a previous checking account or accounts. Those could include overdrafts, failure to pay balances due on those overdrafts and fraud. ChexSystem functions in evaluating financial responsibility in checking much like FICO does in determining credit-worthiness.

Some online financial institutions provide for those rejected for standard checking accounts the option of what is known as “second chance checking.” Because of the risk involved, the fee will be relatively high. There will also be additional terms and conditions. But, in exchange, you do have the convenience of a checking account. Even with the fee structure, the cost of your financial transactions will be lower than using a commercial check-cashing service. In a year or two, for those who demonstrate financial responsibility, there could be an upgrade to a standard checking account.

The process of opening an online checking account isn’t much different than ordering merchandise online. You have to follow the instructions to the letter. If there are problems along the way, it’s smart to contact customer service before you complete the transaction, even if you have to start all over again. Once you are finished, then you have joined the 62 percent of consumers who told the American Bankers Association that they prefer to manage their accounts online.

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