If you’re new to managing money and need a checking account, you might not know where to start. Opening a checking account can seem confusing or disorienting, especially if you’re sitting in a bank branch talking to someone who wants to open the account and move on—without explanation. This is especially true if you enter a bank and try to open an account and a credit check or background check is required.
Use these tips to learn more about checking accounts, and check out our recommended platforms that make the process seamless and simple.
Why Get a Checking Account?
The need for a checking account (or some type of bank account) is woven into the fabric of our society. Yes, there’s plenty you can do with just cash, but there are a lot of things you cannot do without a checking account.
Employment is often tied to a checking account because firms use direct deposits to save money. Even if you get a job and your employer is willing to mail or issue paper checks, accepting a paper check is a hassle that can be avoided with a bank account.
Tax refunds are often direct deposited into your checking account in the modern day. During the pandemic, the government used ACH transfers to deposit stimulus funds in taxpayer accounts. Without a bank account, you’re waiting for a check that might not come.
Checking accounts are safer because your bank or financial platform is likely insured by the FDIC or NCUA.
More ways to pay: With a checking account, you can use a debit card, write checks and even submit ACH payments online using your bank routing number and checking account number.
Carrying cash is an annoyance: Yes, it might be wise to have a few dollars in your pocket, but storing and carrying any large amount of cash is annoying, unwise and potentially dangerous.
Benefits of a Checking Account
A bank account offers you several benefits, including:
- Security: As previously mentioned, banks are secure. At the very least, you know your money is going to a safe place. Plus, you will have access to thousands upon thousands of ATMs that allow you to withdraw cash or even make deposits. Using an ATM is far safer than cashing your check at a random store with everyone watching you walk away with a wad of cash. ATMs usually feature security cameras and adequate lighting.
- Debit card: A debit card is an essential in modern society. Instead of using (and potentially overusing) credit cards.
- Direct deposits: Direct deposits allow you to get paid as soon as your money is available. If you work with a financial platform like MoneyLion, you can get paid a few days early.
- Custom service: Banks and financial platforms might also offer credit cards, cash advances, credit builder loans, mortgages, auto loans, etc. When you already have a checking account with that company, you get preferential service that could include all these financial tools.
How to Open a Checking Account
When you’re ready to open a checking account, the process is much easier than you think.
- Complete the application: Complete the application online so that the bank or financial platform has all your information.
- Verify your identity: Ensure that you can provide a valid form of photo ID. If you cannot prove who you are, the bank cannot provide you with an account.
- Fund the account: Find out how much the institution requires you to deposit in the account so that you can fund it right away. Your first time checking account is ready to use as soon as you make a deposit.
MoneyLion is a digital financial platform that works to help “the 99% feel 100%” about their finances. With this mantra in mind, the platform offers several services that include:
- Mobile banking
- Get paid early
- Credit build loans
- Investment and crypto accounts
- Cash advances
- Cashback rewards
- No hidden fees
- Financial calculators
Open a Checking Account Today
You can open a checking account right away—there’s nothing stopping you. If this is your first time, use these tips to open an account and store your money in a safe place.
If you want to know more about managing a bank account or need additional financial information, return to Benzinga at any time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you need to open your first checking account?
When it’s time to open a checking account, you must have some form of ID—to prove that you are who you say you are—the money you wish to deposit and an application form.
How much money do you need to start a checking account?
You can start many bank accounts with a small amount of money, but you should check with the bank or financial platform you’ve chosen to learn how much is required to open an account.