Opening An Account

When you go to open an account, the financial institution will review your history of using bank accounts. Some may even review your credit report.

If you have a history of misusing accounts, like frequently bouncing checks, you may not be able to open an account.

If you've never had a bank account or credit, don't worry. If you have the proper ID, a financial institution will welcome doing business with you. Usually this means you'll need a photo ID, such as a driver's license, as well as a Social Security number or taxpayer identification number.

If you don't have any of these, you can use a state-issued identity card, passport or permanent resident card.

Deposit Accounts

Bank accounts that allow you to add money are called deposit accounts. There are two types: checking and savings.

Checking Account: Lets you write checks to pay bills or buy goods and services. The financial institution takes the money from your account and pays it to the person or organization named on the check. You get a bank statement each month from the financial institution showing you all the deposits and withdrawals you made on your account. Typically there is a fee for a checking account, but many financial institutions offer low fee checking accounts.

Savings Account: An account that earns interest. You can open a savings account with a few dollars and then deposit more money over time to earn more interest and build your savings. Typically there is no fee for a savings account.
Choosing an Account

It's a good idea to compare the rules of different accounts at different financial institutions. Use this checklist when you begin to look around to find the account that's right for you.

How much money do I need to open the account?
How much do I have to keep in my account to avoid fees?
What are the fees for bounced checks?
How many checks can I write before extra fees are charged?
How many withdrawals can I make each month?
Does this account pay interest?
Does an ATM or debit card come with this account?
Will I be charged to use the ATM or debit card at this financial institution?
What is my liability if I lose my ATM or debit card?
Will I be charged to use the ATM or debit card at another financial institution?
Are there any other fees?
Does the financial institution offer a service for overdraft protection?

 

 

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