Getting your first checking account

  • February 22, 2021

Opening your first checking account can be exciting. It may also be a little daunting considering all the choices. Never fear, we’re here with ideas on how to pick the best account for you.

We’ll also take a closer look at the common account features and services you may want to consider.

A checking account is so much more than a place to park your money.  Checking accounts can also generate rewards for meeting certain criteria, such as:

  • Potential cash back on purchases
  • High-interest earning on deposits
  • Nationwide ATM fee refunds

Often these services are included at no extra charge:

  • Fraud protection
  • Easy account access with mobile and online banking
  • Online bill payments
  • Mobile check deposits
  • Debit cards
  • Electronic bank statements

Follow this simple 4-step guide to opening your first checking account.

Step 1: List your needs

Most banks offer multiple checking account options. Answer these questions to help determine your checking account needs and preferences:

  • How much money do you expect to keep in your checking account each month?
  • Is it more important to interact with a live person at your bank, or to be able to manage your account 24/7 with digital banking tools? Local community banks like The Bank of Missouri typically offer both.
  • Will most of your deposits be made by check or automatic deposit? How do you plan to move money in and out of your account? Do you want to pay bills online, transfer money between other accounts, or make withdraws at the ATM?

Step 2: Explore your options

Now that you have an idea of what you want in a checking account, it’s time to choose a financial institution. Visit websites of banks you may be interested in and look at their account details. Finding an account that matches your needs is part of it. But, there’s more to look for in a bank. Is it important to you to choose a local bank? Some people appreciate knowing their bank reinvests in their community, supporting local organizations and small businesses. It’s another way to “shop local.” Caring for customers and the community is at the core of everything The Bank of Missouri does.

You may also want to look at the other products and services the bank offers. As your needs grow, would you like to be able to apply for a loan from your bank for a home or car purchase?

Also, consider all the ways you will access your account and customer support. Take a look at the bank’s locations and telephone support hours. See what’s available to manage your account from your computer and phone.

As you are choosing a bank, narrow your account search by selecting features that best meet the needs and wants you identified in Step 1.

Step 3: Prepare to open the account

Now it’s time to decide how to open your account. Many banks offer options to open an account online. Local banks also offer the option to open an account in person. Either way, there are some items you’ll want to have handy and some things to think about.

To open a checking account, you’ll need documents to prove your identity. Common requirements include a government-issued ID (a driver’s license or state-issued ID, or a U.S. passport with your signature), a social security card, and proof of your current address (a lease agreement, mortgage statement, phone bill, or something similar).

Will anyone else be involved in your account? A joint account owner will often need to follow the same account opening process as you. If you choose to add a beneficiary to your account, that person may have fewer steps but will also need to provide some documentation.

Be prepared to add funds (money) to your new account. Review your chosen account to see how much is required to open the account. This is often called the “minimum opening deposit.”

Step 4: Read the fine print and choose optional services

Now that you’ve chosen a bank, an account, how to open it and gathered the necessary documents, you’re getting close the finish line. Be sure to read the Terms and Conditions of the account before you sign your name. Ask your banker any questions. That’s what they’re there for! Be sure to understand any potential fees that could be associated with your account.

Whether you are in-person or opening an account online, select the optional features you’d like for your account. While you can add things like online banking and electronic statements later, it will save you a step to select those items as you open the account. Plus, you can enjoy using them right away.

Then, you can sign your name and congratulate yourself on opening your first account!

As you’re choosing a checking account, know that The Bank of Missouri offers accounts with varying rewards. Receive cash back, digital credits, or earn a higher than average interest rate on balances when qualifications are met. You’ll also enjoy many extras such as online banking, a mobile app and mobile check deposit to name a few. Visit the checking accounts page to learn more.

Apply for a checking account