How to open a bank account online: step by step

Gabriela Peratello

Opening a bank account online is convenient and can save you some time and effort, as long as you have all the paperwork and documentation needed to get started.

The good news is that there are more and more easy options to open accounts online, both from banks, and non-bank alternatives like the Wise Account.

This guide takes a look at some of the best account types available online, and how to get started with them.


Meet Wise - an alternative to an online bank for seamless money management across multiple currencies

Aside from banks, there are also some great providers offering alternatives to bank accounts which can come with their own unique features.

For example, if you travel frequently, shop online with international retailers, or work freelance and get an income from abroad, Wise could help you save time and money.

Wise isn’t a bank (it’s a Money Service Business or MSB), but it can be a great alternative to cover many of your banking needs.

You can easily open and manage a Wise Account online, in just a few steps. There’s no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fees.

Get a Wise Account to:
  • Send money abroad with the mid-market exchange rate and low fees

  • Get paid like a local in 9 different currencies

  • Spend in over 150 countries with the Wise card

  • Hold and manage +40 currencies at the tip of your fingers

  • Opt in to receive annual percentage yield (APY) on your USD balance with Wise’s interest feature (subject to change, certain limitations apply — see Program Agreement for more information)

There’s even a handy Wise app, so you can manage everything from your phone.

Looking for an online account for your business? With Wise Business, you can easily open a business account online, and manage your finances at home and internationally.

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Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information


How to open a bank account online step by step

The actual steps can differ from bank to bank, but they’re usually similar. Here's a sample of the process when opening a bank account online. We’ll dive into some of the key questions and things to consider when picking a bank in just a moment.

Step 1. Check you’re eligible to open a bank account online

You’ll usually find you can open a US bank account online if you’re a legal US resident aged 18 or over, and have a local US address (and proof of address such as official documents in your name).

You’ll also be asked for your SSN or ITIN if you’re not a US citizen or Green Card holder, and you’ll usually have to pay an opening deposit right away when you set up your account.

If you’re in the process of moving to the US and don’t yet have proof of a local US address, you may not be able to open your bank account online. If you’re looking for an alternative solution you might want to pick a non-bank alternative instead.

Some non-bank alternatives let you open an account online before you travel to the US, and use your proof of ID and address from your home country for verification. Compare a few non-bank account options to see if any meet your specific needs.

Step 2. Choose an online account type

Before you choose an account provider, you need to think about the type of account that will best serve your needs. Here are some options:

Online checking accounts

Similar to a regular checking account, an online checking account is suitable for your everyday spending requirements. It typically provides a debit card, checkbook, and convenient access to your funds. However, you may not earn interest on the account balance, and certain services may incur fees.

💡 Looking for free checking accounts? Check out our guide

Online savings accounts

To make the most of a balance in your online account, choose an interest-bearing savings account. Different options include term deposits with higher interest rates but fixed periods. Carefully review terms and conditions, including potential penalties for early withdrawals, to ensure the right choice for you

💡 Owning a business? Find out more about business savings accounts

Business account

If you're a business owner or freelancer, then you should also consider opening a business account to keep your personal and company finances separate. Digital business accounts also often come with neat extras like easy ways to reconcile your accounts using cloud accounting software, and debit and expense cards.

As well as banks, some non-bank providers can help with USD and multi-currency digital accounts for businesses trading internationally. Shop around to see which might suit your business.

💡 Did you know that Wise also offers a business account?

Some key features of Wise Business include:
  • Better visibility and organization of business finances. This is helpful for account reconciliations and audits
  • Major local account details for a simple one-off fee to receive international payments with ease
  • No monthly account fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Receive payments from e-commerce platforms such as Amazon or via Stripe
  • Create invoices using the free Wise invoice generator or invoice templates
  • Accounting integrations, including a QuickBooks Bill Pay connection
  • Batch payment options. Fast payment of up to 1,000 people

Discover the difference between
Wise Business vs Personal

Step 3. Choose the bank or non-bank service you prefer to open an account online with

As we have mentioned already, the Wise Account is a great non-bank solution for people living international lifestyles.

You can also choose an online account from a challenger bank, or look for a bank which allows online account opening. Finding the best option for you will require some research. However, some good places to start include Ally Bank®² or Chime®³ for online checking and saving accounts, and Wells Fargo®⁴ or Capital One®⁵ for an online process from a major US bank.

💡 Looking for bank accounts that are easy to open? Here’s our list of the top 6 easiest bank accounts to open online

Step 4. Complete your online account application and get verified

Next you need to complete the online application form, providing personal information and documents, submit your application electronically and get verified.

Each bank or provider will have its own policy and process for opening an account online, so you’ll need to double-check the small print when you’ve chosen the right account for you.

However, there are some standard pieces of information you’ll be asked for when getting your account set up:

  • Personal details: your name and date of birth, for example

  • Contact information including a residential address, phone number and email

  • Proof of ID: often using your SSN or ITIN and a government issued document such as a driving license

  • Full details of the linked account or card you’ll use to fund your account’s opening balance

Here’s the documentation you’ll need to open a bank account online:

Double-check the paperwork your bank requires, as it can vary. However, you can expect to need the following:

  • Identity documents: a copy or photo of your passport or driving license, for example

  • Proof you’re a US citizen or legal resident: your SSN details or ITIN

  • Evidence of your residential address: this will be where you actually live, and usually can’t be a PO Box or similar. Banks tend to ask for something like a utility bill in your name to fulfill this requirement

Step 5. Fund your online account

If you’re opening your account online, you want to be able to fund and manage it electronically. You’ll be able to top up your account using a bank transfer, or a credit or debit card payment - or send or drop off a check if you’re using a bank.

You could also have your employer deposit your salary to your digital account for example, or have others send money to you.

Some non-bank account services let you add funds in USD or a selection of other currencies. You may also be able to get local bank details for a range of foreign currencies, which you can give to others to have them send you money conveniently. That can be very handy if you’re a freelancer earning an income in a foreign currency for example, or if you live internationally.

Get started with Wise


Banking online can make life much easier, and mean you never need to stand in line in your local branch again. Do a little research to find the account that works best for you, looking at the online accounts on offer from banks as well as those provided by alternative providers.

There are plenty of options out there, including banks and non-bank options like the Wise Account - so you’ll be able to find one which meets your needs and helps you cut your costs at the same time.


Sources:

  1. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing: Only Pay for What You Use for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.
  2. Ally Bank
  3. Chime
  4. Wells Fargo
  5. Capital One

Sources checked on 09.18.2023


Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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