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Opening a Checking Account in 2023

Opening a Checking Account in 2023
Caroline Banton
Caroline BantonUpdated January 25, 2023
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A checking account is considered a safe place to keep your money. This account makes it easy for you to manage your finances and pay bills, and keeping a checking account in good standing will help create a positive financial profile.Most banks allow you to apply for a checking account online and do all your banking through a mobile app, allowing you to take advantage of many conveniences.Here's a guide to bank and credit union checking accounts in 2023. We explain why you may need one, how to choose the right checking account, what documents you will need, and the steps to take to open a checking account online. 

What Is a Checking Account?

The money in your checking account can be used to make purchases and pay bills. Some people set up direct deposit of their paycheck into their checking account.Checking account holders can withdraw money from an ATM with a debit card, as well as write checks to pay bills. Checking accounts are one of the most liquid types of bank accounts. There are rarely restrictions on accessing funds. Because of this, banks don’t pay interest on the balance, although some banks offer tiered checking accounts with low APYs, and some credit unions pay dividends on account balances.There are fees associated with many checking accounts, such as monthly service fees and overdraft fees. Some banks offer overdraft protection, which negates such fees by declining transactions greater than your checking account balance or automatically transferring funds from a linked savings account.

Opening a Checking Account Online

You can open a checking account in person by visiting a local branch. But opening a checking account online is increasingly popular. This way you can take advantage of automated tools and features, like setting up bills to pay online on a certain day.  If you apply in-person, a brick and mortar branch might accept cash, but an online application with a minimum initial balance will typically require a deposit through ACH transfer, a debit card, or a check.With some banks, you can open a checking account online instantly with no deposit. With others, it might take a few days for the bank to open your account. The banks rarely perform credit checks, but they may look into your banking history.It’s a good idea to verify that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insures the checking accounts at the bank you are interested in.Recommended: What Is Relationship Banking?

Is It Free to Open a Checking Account?

Typically, there is no charge to open a checking account. However, you may have to provide a minimum deposit, which could range from $25 to hundreds of dollars for premium accounts. Credit unions may require account holders to buy shares in the credit union, and the cost might range from $5 to $25. The amount will stay in your checking account for as long as you own the account.Although opening the account may be free, there could be monthly maintenance fees depending on the account type and the bank. You may also be subject to a penalty if you don’t maintain a minimum balance.

How to Open a Checking Account

What do you need to open a checking account? Here are four steps to follow.

1. Selecting a Bank 

Choose a bank, preferably one that is FDIC or NCUA-insured. Before selecting a bank or credit union, check their terms and services. Consider what services you might want to use in the future, such as a personal loan or auto financing, and see how one bank compares to another in terms of interest rates and APYs.Also check the fees and penalties the bank charges for things like overdrafts or failing to maintain a minimum balance. Does the bank limit ATM withdrawals? Lastly, consider convenience. Can you do your banking online through a mobile app, or would you have to visit the bank in-person? 

2. Preparing Proof of Identification Documents

You will need to provide proof of identification in the form of a government-issued photo ID or driver’s license, a social security card, or an individual taxpayer identification card. A passport or birth certificate can also confirm your identity.

3. Providing Proof of Address 

The bank could ask you for proof of address. Examples of documents showing proof of address are a lease, a utility bill, mortgage documents, or a credit card statement.

4. Filling Out an Application

To apply online, you will fill in various fields on the bank’s application and may need to scan your documents and upload them to the bank’s website. You will also have to deposit funds if necessary.Recommended: How to Open a Business Banking Account (Online and In-Person)

Is Getting a Debit Card Mandatory When Opening a Checking Account?

You don’t have to get a debit card when you open a checking account. You could visit your bank in person to cash a check or fill out a withdrawal slip. Some supermarkets and other stores will cash your check for you for a fee. When you open a checking account online, you may have to apply for a physical debit card.  Some banks have cardless ATMs that use near-field communication (NFC) technology. And customers can access cash through a digital wallet without a debit card and use the wallet to make purchases in stores.

Choosing a Checking Account

In addition to choosing a bank or credit union that is FDIC- or NCUA-insured, some things to consider when choosing a checking account are the fees, debit, and potential credit card rewards, in-network ATM locations, and other conveniences.


Each account type will charge different fees, such as monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, and non-sufficient funds fees. You may have to pay a fee for using an ATM at a bank that is not your own. 


Checking accounts are not meant to be vehicles for saving. Savings accounts are the place to earn some interest. However, some checking account-connected credit cards offer rewards, such as 2% cash back on expenses like gas, utilities, restaurant bills, or drug store items. 

ATMs and Convenience

If you use an ATM that is within your bank’s network, you are unlikely to be charged a fee. Out of network, fees are common for a debit card transaction at an ATM in a bank or store. Most banks offer mobile apps that allow you to deposit checks. Even cardless withdrawals are possible using your phone and an app. Also, with a checking account, it can be straightforward to transfer money among your various accounts.

The Takeaway

It’s easy to apply for a checking account online with a bank or credit union, and even easier to do your banking by mobile app. To apply online for a checking account, you will need to provide documentation to verify your identity, and you may have to provide some funds to open the account. Compare checking account terms, fees, and services to find the one that works for you.Lantern can help you compare online savings accounts and find today’s best rate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you need to open a checking account?
How much money do you need to open a checking account?
Is it possible to open checking accounts completely online?
Photo credit: iStock/Poike

About the Author

Caroline Banton

Caroline Banton

Caroline Banton is a finance and business writer whose work has appeared on sites such as The Huffington Post, Investopedia, The Motley Fool, LendingTree, MSN, and Time. With an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, Caroline has written for fintech companies, acted as a career coach, and ghost-written for prominent thought leaders in the financial industry.
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