A Newcomer’s Guide to Managing Money Checklist for opening a bank or credit union account


You may decide that a checking or savings account is the right product for you. If you do, opening an account at a bank or credit union is quite simple.

Opening an account at a bank or credit union

First, you may want to get a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member for a bank or credit union. Find out about:

  • The fees they charge
  • The services they offer, like online bill payment or a mobile app
  • The interest they pay for savings accounts

You usually need to make an initial deposit between $25 and $100 to open a savings or checking account.
You also need to provide information so the bank or credit union can verify your name, date of birth, address, and identification number.
An identification number can be a Social Security number, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), passport number and country
of issuance, alien identification card number, or other government-issued identification number.

Find out how much you must keep in the account at all times to avoid or reduce fees. This is called the “minimum balance requirement.” This may not be the same amount of money you need to open
the account.
  • Many banks require you to show a S. or state government issued identification card with your photo on it, such as a driver’s license,

U.S. passport, or military identification.

  • If you do not have a S. or state government issued form of identification, some banks and credit unions accept foreign passports and

Consular IDs, such as the Matricula Consular card.
 Checking account checklists
Ensure you have what you need to open an account at a bank or credit union. Below are the items
many banks and credit unions ask for.
Items needed to open a checking account
Information needed Additional questions
A form of identification with your picture, issued by the U.S.
government or a foreign government (each bank or credit union has its
own policy on what foreign IDs it accepts)
A second form of identification: Your Social Security card, a
bill with your name and address on it, or your birth certificate
A Social Security number or ITIN; without this, you may only be able
to open a no-interest account
Money to open the account
Questions to ask your representative
Ask your representative about: Notes
Minimum balance required to avoid monthly service fees
Monthly service fees
Direct deposit and whether it eliminates the monthly fee
Per-check or transaction fees
Fees associated with use of automated teller machines (ATMs)
Online and mobile banking access and any costs
Online and mobile bill pay access and any costs
How to avoid overdraft fees
Low balance alert notifications

Small Business Insurance
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