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You’re at a stage where you’re starting to think about how you should manage your hard-earned money. Like you, I was excited to take responsibility for my money and start making decisions for myself. 

One of those decisions was opening my first bank account. Deciding to open your first bank account is a huge and exciting decision, and I couldn’t be happier for you. 

I had no idea where to start or even how to start. If you feel like I did, you’re not alone. Most, if not all of us, have been through this.

I put together a step-by-step guide to help you open your first bank account. Let’s dive in!

1. Conduct your research

If you’re under 18 years of age and opening a joint account with your parents or legal guardian, use them as resources. Ask your parents or guardians about their bank. 

Many banks have requirements for minors opening a bank account for the first time. Sometimes, those rules include the need for parents or legal guardians to have an account at the bank as well. 

If you’re not sure what the rules are, head into a local branch and ask them how to go about opening an account.

What if I’m doing this process alone?

Let me start by saying, you’re not alone. I intend to help you and make this process as smooth and easy as possible. However, since you’re not looking for a joint-bank account, the best way to start this process is by conducting your own research. 

Use one of my all-time favorite blogs on how to open a student bank account for guidance on which bank to choose or how to make the right decision. If you have the opportunity to select a bank, choose the one that best suits your needs. Think of how this ideal bank will come in handy when you find yourself in tough financial situations.

What should I be looking for?

Every bank has its own features, eligibility, and enrollment requirements. Regardless of which bank or who you’re opening the account with, be on the lookout for each of these:

  • Outstanding fees – Do they charge you for low balance, overdraft, etc.?
  • No or low fee features for maintaining and funding the account – ask if there is a checking account fee? If there is, see if there are any ways in which you can avoid it, such as direct deposit. 
  • Convenient ATM access and fees – Are there ATMs in your normal area of travel? Do they charge a fee if you use an outside ATM on top of the usual ATM fee?
  • Spending limits flexibility – Is there a limit to what you can spend each month or the amount of money you can withdraw/transfer?
  • Online account access – Do you get free access to your account online?
  • Additional fees that come with opening an account – What other fees should you be aware of before opening an account? Do you need to meet a minimum balance to open it?

Now that you have an idea of which bank meets your needs, it’s time we move to…gathering all required documents.

2. Gather and submit identification information 

Regardless of whether you’re opening your first bank account online or in-person, you’ll still need to provide some sort of valid, government-issued photo ID. This form of identification can be your driver’s license or a passport. 

If you don’t have either, you can obtain a state ID at your local Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV). Based on your unique personal situation, the bank may ask for additional documents.

If you’re unsure of which documents you’ll need, I suggest you visit your bank’s website. They probably will have a list of all necessary documentation needed to open a bank account. If you feel stuck at some point, don’t hesitate to reach out to the bank of your choice. Most banks offer 24/7 phone customer service.

3. Open your bank account

Have you heard about the Chase Bank? Well, even if you haven’t, when I opened my first bank account with them, I had to provide a minimum deposition. In my case, the deposit was $25. 

Depending on which bank you choose, this amount may vary. Therefore, make sure to bring the minimum deposit along with all required documentation with you when you go to open your account. 

Congrats on deciding to open your first bank account. Taking charge of your money takes courage, and you just took the first step!

I hope you enjoy your new bank account. I’m happy you’re making one of the first financial decisions of your life. First stop is a checking or savings account; the next is a credit card. Good luck!

We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.