How To Open a Savings Account

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Key Takeaways

  • You’ll need at least one form of identification to open a savings account, although some banks may ask for multiple IDs.
  • Depending on your bank, you may be able to apply for a savings account online, over the phone, or in person.
  • You’ll need to provide identification and fill out an application when opening a joint savings account or opening a savings account on your own.

Whether you’re building an emergency fund or saving for a big purchase, a savings account is one of the safest places to store your money for short-term goals. After you've shopped around for the best savings account (more on that later), you can typically open the account in under an hour. Learn the steps to help you breeze through the process.

Steps To Take To Apply for a Savings Account

There are a few ways you can open a savings account, depending on your bank’s policies. You may be able to open an account online, over the phone, or in person. The application process is similar across banks, so if you’ve opened a savings account before, the steps may be familiar to you.

Verify Your Identity

Banks are required to confirm your identity before allowing you to open an account. They may also check your identity periodically as long as your account is open. This means you’ll have to provide your name, date of birth, address, and identification number. If you’re a U.S. citizen, that’s a Social Security number. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you may need to provide your taxpayer identification number, passport number and country, or other identification number.

Banks also typically need you to provide a copy of your valid driver's license, state ID, or passport. Some banks may also ask for a second form of identification, such as a copy of your Social Security card, birth certificate, or a recent bill with your name and current address.


If a bank can’t verify your identity online, you may be required to open an account in person. A bank may have trouble confirming your identity if you’ve had problems with your checking-account history, you have limited credit or work history in the U.S., or you're under age 16.

If you’re opening an account in person, you can call ahead or check online to see what documents and information your bank will need from you. That way, there won’t be any surprises when you get there.

Complete the Application

In addition to the information required to confirm your identity, the application form will typically require your contact information, such as your phone number and email address. You'll then sign and date the application to confirm your information is correct and that you agree to the bank’s terms and conditions.


If you already have an account with the bank, opening a savings account can be a faster process, since your bank can pre-fill your application with the information on file for you.

Make the Initial Deposit

Once you've completed the application, you can make the first deposit to your savings account. Many banks allow you to choose between making a mobile check deposit, a bank transfer, or depositing a check or cash in person.

You may need to make a deposit shortly after opening your account, even if there's no minimum deposit required. Some banks will close your account if you don't make a deposit within a certain amount of time.


Make sure your bank is FDIC-insured or your credit union is NCUA-insured. That insurance means up to $250,000 of your money is protected if the institution goes broke.

Opening an Account Online vs. In Person

Opening an account online or through a bank's mobile app can be faster and more convenient than applying in person. Some banks allow you to do that without uploading any documents. Instead, you can provide your Social Security number and other information the bank can use to verify your identity.

That said, if the online application isn’t user-friendly or requires you to upload multiple documents, you may prefer to apply in person. Another benefit of applying in person is that a bank employee can walk you through the process and answer your questions. However, if you visit a busy branch, the whole process may take longer.

You may also be able to open an account over the phone.

How To Open a Joint Savings Account

A joint savings account allows two people to own a single account. Both individuals can make deposits and withdrawals and view account history. If you decide to open a joint savings account, you and the other person will both need to include your names on the application and provide proof of identification.


If you want to add someone to  an existing savings account, some banks require both of you to come to the branch.

How To Open a Savings Account for a Child

State laws and company policies vary, but in general, it’s very hard for a child under age 18 to open an account without an adult. Most banks require anyone under age 18 to have a joint account with an adult. You'll need to provide your personal information and identification, and your child will need to provide their birth certificate or Social Security card.

Choosing the Best Savings Account Option

Consider what your priorities are when deciding where to open a savings account. If your top priority is the APY, you may want to open an account with an online bank instead of a traditional brick-and-mortar bank. Online banks may have lower overhead, which can allow them to offer higher interest rates.

But just because a bank offers a high interest rate for savings accounts doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you. Check to see if there are any fees that may affect you. Those fees can effectively erase your interest earnings. A bank that offers a lower interest rate but has no minimum account balance requirements or fees may be a better fit for you.

There are other factors to consider outside of interest rates and fees. If you frequently need to deposit cash, or if you’re not comfortable depositing checks using an app, consider a bank with branches near your work and home. Also consider features that you may want, such as an ATM card—some accounts provide those, while others don’t.

You can also check out online reviews like The Balance’s top picks for savings accounts to see some of the available options. To determine which account is right for you, list the features most important to you and jot down how each bank measures up as you shop around.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take to open a savings account?

If you have all the necessary documents and information, you may be able to open a savings account online in just a few minutes. Opening a savings account in a bank branch may take longer depending on wait times.

How much money do you need to open a savings account?

Some savings accounts have no minimum deposit requirements or fees, which means you can open up an account even if you're not ready to make a deposit right away.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. "How Your Accounts Are Federally Insured." Page 2.

  2. Help With My Bank. “Are the Deposits in My Bank Insured? What Is FDIC Insurance?

  3. Bread Savings. “Frequently Asked Questions.”

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