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How Do I Open a Checking Account?

As a secondary proof of identification, a voter registration document can be used when opening a checking account.
Opening a checking account requires filling out a deposit slip.
Some banks charge a fee to open a checking account.
Many banks allow checking account holders to access their funds with a debit or ATM card.
Article Details
  • Written By: Lori Smith
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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A bank account is a convenient and safe way to keep track of your money and pay your bills. To open a checking account, you usually need two forms of identification and some money for your first deposit. It is often helpful to do some research on financial institutions close to where you live or work, to find the most convenient banking experience.

Some banks charge a fee for opening and maintaining a checking account. Ask about any charges you can expect to incur, as well as overdraft protection and associated fees. Before you decide where to open a checking account, you should find a bank that suits you and has services that meet your needs.

When you arrive at the financial institution to open a checking account, you will meet with a bank manager and have an opportunity to ask about the different types of services available. In the U.S., you will most likely need to present two forms of identification. At least one of them should have your photograph and signature, such as a driver’s license or passport. The second can be a student identification card, voter’s registration, or other official, personal document.

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The bank manager usually asks for basic personal information, such as your address and phone number. He or she will also likely have you designate a beneficiary. Once all of the paperwork is complete, you must sign a signature card. This will be kept on file and used as a safeguard to verify the authenticity of any checks you sign.

When you give the bank manager your first deposit to open a checking account, he or she will give you a deposit slip. This is a type of receipt that you will receive each time you deposit money into your account. Be sure to keep an accurate register of all deposits and withdrawals you make.

You will then be able to choose which checks you would like to purchase. Some people prefer simple and plain checks, which are usually the least expensive. You can, however, customize your checks with various design options. These are typically ordered in boxes of 250, and arrive with a basic two-part oblong folder, called a checkbook. When choosing checks, you will usually have the option to select ones with carbon copy duplicates, which can help keep track of spending.

It commonly takes about two weeks to receive the checks in the mail. Before you leave the bank, however, you will likely receive a set of starter checks. These have your account number on them, but do not include personal information, such as your name. Retail stores rarely accept payment from starter checks, but you should have no trouble using them to pay your bills, until your customized checks arrive.

Most banks also provide a debit card that can be used at an automatic teller machine (ATM). This is also known as an ATM card, and will allow you to access cash at these machines, which are normally located at financial institutions and stores. There are often fees associated with using ATM cards at a bank other than your own, however. Like the checks, it can take several weeks before your ATM card arrives.

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