Tips for Opening Your First Checking Account

For many, opening a first checking account is a rite of passage. After all, as an adult with an income, you need a way to manage it. But where to begin? The task may seem daunting at first, but follow these helpful tips and the process will be easy.

Do Your Homework

First, you need to figure out which bank is right for you. Do you want a national or community bank? Would you prefer to do your banking in person or online? Spend time reading about the banks you are considering to get an idea of their plans and policies. If you have additional questions, stop by a local bank or give them a call.

Know What You Want and Need

Once you have narrowed down your choice of bank, it’s time to pick a plan. Think about what you are using the account for and what you can afford. Some plans require minimum balances and have monthly fees or limits on how many checks you can use. If offered by the bank, it may be best to start with a free checking account.

Have Your Papers in Order

Be sure to bring a government-issued ID (e.g. driver’s license) and cash for an opening deposit (at least $25) when you set up your account. Also, be prepared to provide your social security number, phone number, and email address. If you are under 18, make sure a parent or guardian comes with you, as they may have to cosign the account.

Speak Up

Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you set up your account. Finances can be intimidating, but the bank staff is there to help. They want financially educated clients. What’s more, establishing a relationship with the bank early can help as bigger decisions or unexpected issues arise down the road.

Stay Organized

Keep track of your account after you have opened it. Many banks offer online options, which can help you do this remotely. You could also go the old-fashioned route, using pen and paper to keep track of your monthly expenses and balance your checkbook. The danger in not tracking your checking account activity is that you may overdraw your account or miss errors like unauthorized purchases. Talk to your bank about their policies for such occurrences.

Knowledge is power when it comes to banking. So read up, ask around, and visit your bank to cross another milestone off the adult life checklist.