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What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account?

Opening a new bank account is a quick but important step. To get started, you’ll need some legal documents, information and possibly funds for an initial deposit. Whether you’re opening your very first account or opening an account at your existing bank or credit union, we’ve got tips to get you up and running in a snap.

Opening a new bank account may seem like just another chore on your to-do list, but it’s actually easier to check off than you think. Maybe you’ve just turned 18 and you’re opening your very first account (if so, congrats!). Or perhaps you’ve grown tired of your old bank and are ready to switch to a credit union. To help make the process of getting a new account smooth and easy, we’ve compiled a list of what you need to get started.

Online or In-branch?

First, you’ll need to decide whether you’d like to open a bank account online or in person. Opening an account online can take just 10 minutes or less. If you’ll be taking this step at your bank or credit union branch, be prepared to arrive at least an hour before the branch’s closing time to open your account. While many credit unions are happy to help in-person visitors anytime their doors are open, you may be more relaxed if you know you have ample time to ask questions.

Prepare Your Documents and Information

You’ll need to have the following information on hand when opening a bank account:

  • Social Security number for U.S. residents, or Tax ID Number (TIN) for non-residents and resident aliens, as well as their spouses and dependents who cannot get an SSN
  • Valid government-issued identification, such as driver’s license, state-issued ID or valid passport
  • Date of birth
  • Contact information, including a residential address, the best telephone number to reach you and an email address

If you’ll be opening a joint account, you’ll need all the documentation and information listed above for the co-owner of the account as well.

If You’re Under 18

If you aren’t old enough to open your own account at a bank or credit union, you can open a joint account with an adult. Some banks and credit unions offer teen checking accounts and youth savings accounts, which are joint accounts designed for younger members. Opening an account early on in life can be a great way to learn the basics of responsible money management, which includes sticking to a budget, using debit cards and developing good saving habits.

Initial Deposit

Depending on your banking partner, you may need to make an initial deposit that meets a required minimum. You can choose to deposit cash, transfer funds from another account or even set up direct deposit to have your paycheck automatically deposited into your account.

After Opening Your Account

Once your account has been set up, you can start using it through your bank or credit union’s app or website, or by visiting a branch location. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your account number until you can easily recognize it when banking.

Consider a Credit Union

When opening a new account, consider choosing a credit union as your banking partner. You’ll enjoy perks like free checking, lower loan rates, fewer fees, personalized service and giving back to the community.

It’s even more convenient than ever to open a new bank account. You’ll just need to collect legal documents and identifying information, be prepared to make some important decisions and possibly be ready to make an initial deposit. With our tips, you’ll be able to open your new account quickly and easily.

Get Free Checking1 with no monthly fees, no minimum balance and no hassles.


1Primary account holder must be 18 years or older and meet Desert Financial’s membership eligibility and credit qualification requirements, including opening a Membership Savings account with a minimum balance of $25. Checking is free; however, fees incurred — such as a stop payment or NSF fee — will apply. For complete terms and conditions, refer to the published Statements of Terms, Conditions and Disclosures booklet.

The material presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.