How to Open a Bank Account Online
Do you want to open a USD bank account online? Whether you’re looking to manage your account fully using online and mobile banking, or simply want to skip waiting in line in a branch to get your account opened, we have the solutions for you.
To open a US bank account online you’ll have a few options from traditional banks and also digital alternatives like Wise and Revolut – which works best for you might vary based on your personal situation and preferences. This guide covers all you need to know.
Can you open a bank account online for free?
Yes. The good news is that there are accounts you can open with either a traditional bank or an online provider for free. It’s common for traditional banks to ask for a minimum opening deposit as soon as your account is approved – while online specialists usually don’t have any minimum deposit or fall below fees to worry about.
With traditional banks you’ll usually have to be a US resident with an eligible proof of ID and address, as well as a Social Security Number. Once your account is up and running you can transact online or in person and access a full range of financial products and services.
Specialist account providers like Wise and Revolut may allow you to open an account which can hold, spend, send and receive USD even if you don’t live in the US or don’t have a US proof of address available. These services often offer multi-currency account management features, linked spending cards, and low transaction fees.
What do I need to open a bank account online?
To open a bank account online with a traditional bank you’ll usually be asked to provide:
- Your name and date of birth
- Your Social Security Number
- Your US address – proof may be required depending on the account
- A valid government issued proof of ID – passport, driver’s license or state ID for example
- An opening deposit, which can start from about 25 USD
If you’re interested in opening an account online which can be used to transact in US dollars, but don’t have a physical address in the US, you can also look at specialist online providers like Wise and Revolut.
Wise offers accounts to people based almost anywhere in the world, with only a short list of unsupported countries, while Revolut serves a range of major global economies across Europe, plus the US, UK, Japan, Australia and more. Both offer accounts you can use to hold, exchange and spend US dollars, without requiring US residency. More on this later.
How to open a bank account Online
Different banks have their own processes for online account opening. However, they usually state that the entire application will only take 5 or 10 minutes, and can be managed from your computer or in some cases your smart device. Here’s what you’ll normally need to do:
- Download the bank’s app, or head to their desktop site
- Select the account you want to open and double check you meet the eligibility requirements
- Click Apply online and enter your personal details following the onscreen prompts
- Upload images of the required documents for verification
- Read through and confirm your agreement with the account terms and conditions
- Once your account application is approved you’ll often need to make a minimum deposit amount, which you can pay by card or bank transfer from another account
It’s worth noting that online bank account opening isn’t always possible – if you can’t get your account verified digitally, you’ll need to visit a branch in person to get started. You may also need to attend a branch if you’re opening a joint account or an account for a minor.
Which provider is best for online accounts?
You’ll be able to open an account online with either a regular bank, or a specialist provider. Both have their own pros and cons, and offer a varied range of features and fees. To give a flavor, let’s look at some of the key account features from a couple of specialists, and 2 of America’s big mainstream banks.
|Service||Wise||Revolut||Bank of America*||US Bank*|
|Currencies covered||50+ currencies including USD||Typically around 28 currencies including USD||USD||USD|
|Opening fee||No fee||No fee||Minimum opening balance 25 USD||Minimum opening balance 25 USD|
|Maintenance fee||No fee||Fee-free standard plans are available – or customers can upgrade to accounts which have a monthly charge||4.95 USD/month – can be waived by fulfilling eligibility criteria||6.95 USD/month – can be waived by fulfilling eligibility criteria|
|Fall below fee||No fee||No fee||No fee||Hold 1,500 USD minimum to avoid maintenance fee|
|International transfers||Low fee, varies by currency||Fee varies by currency and payment value||16 USD incoming wire fee|
No transfer fee for wires sent in a foreign currency – exchange rate markups are likely to apply
|25 USD incoming wire fee|
50 USD outgoing wire fee
|Close account fee||No fee||No fee||No fee||No fee – 5 USD/month dormant account fee may apply|
|Is it safe?||Yes – regulated and trusted provider||Yes – regulated and trusted provider||Yes – regulated and trusted bank||Yes – regulated and trusted bank|
*Bank of America account profiled – Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Account. US Bank account profiled – Easy Checking Account. Other accounts from these providers have varied terms and conditions
It’s fairly common now for traditional banks to offer ways to open your account online or through an app. That’s great as it means you can avoid heading into a branch to get started – but you’ll usually also need a physical US address, which can be a limitation for some people.
Other options from specialist providers like Wise and Revolut can offer more flexibility, with no minimum balance requirements, a broader range of currency management features, and lower fees overall.
Wise offers multi-currency accounts you can open online and in-app, in all but a small handful of unsupported countries. Use your account to hold, exchange, send and spend 50+ currencies including USD, and manage your money on the move with the Wise app.
Your account will come with USD bank details so you can get paid like a local in US dollars, as well as up to 9 other currencies (including EUR, CAD and GBP). More information on Wise Multi-Currency Account Review.
Accounts have no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirement, and all currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate. You just pay low, transparent fees for the services you need.
- Accounts are free to open, with no monthly fee or minimum balance
- Customers in most countries can get a linked Wise international debit card, with some fee free ATM withdrawals
- All currency conversion uses the mid-market rate with no hidden fees
- Features available may vary based on where you live
If you live in the US, the UK, the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland or Japan, you can open a Revolut account online or through the Revolut app. Accounts offer multi-currency features, so you can hold and exchange around 28 currencies, including USD.
If you need to convert currencies or want to spend internationally, you may be able to access fee-free currency conversion, depending on the plan you pick. Accounts come with linked cards and a good range of features to let you invest, save, budget and spend.
- Choose a free Standard account, or upgrade to a paid account plan for more features
- Get a linked card and some fee free ATM withdrawals based on your plan type
- Mid-market exchange rates for currency conversion, up to plan limits
- Features available may vary based on where you live
Bank of America
If you’re in the market for an account from a traditional bank, Bank of America may be a good pick, with a range of checking accounts you can open online. You’ll need to have your Social Security Number to hand, and you’ll have to have an eligible US residential address to get started.
Accounts range from basic options with easy ways to waive fixed ongoing fees, to more complex products with a broader selection of services and higher charges or minimum balance requirements.
- Open your account online using your US residential address
- Good range of account options, including some with maintenance fees you can waive easily
- Many accounts come with checking features
- Most standard Bank of America accounts are used to hold and handle USD only
US Bank also offers online account opening options for customers who live in the US. The online opening process should only take you about 5 minutes, and once your account is verified you’ll be able to make your minimum deposit and start transacting right away.
US Bank offers checking and savings accounts, investment and retirement planning support, loans and credit, as well as a full suite of online and mobile banking options. Once you’re all set up with your account you can manage your money on the move, or pop into a branch for in person help.
- Online account opening for US based adults over the age of 18
- Full range of account products and connected services
- Online and mobile banking as standard
- No multi-currency features offered on standard account products
Types of Accounts
There are a good range of account options out there which all suit different customer needs. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common ones:
- Online only accounts – from regular banks or specialist services, limited options for in person support, all transactions managed online or in-app.
- Basic checking accounts – usually low or no maintenance fees, with easy ways to waive ongoing costs. Range of services may be limited.
- Premium checking accounts – often come with personal banking support, but require high minimum balances or have high monthly fees.
- Savings accounts – interest bearing account products to help you grow your balance.
- Multi-currency accounts – helpful if you transact in foreign currencies often, used to cut the costs of currency exchange and international spending.
Opening a Business Account Online
If you’re a freelancer or own a registered business, you can also open a business bank account online.
Different banks and specialist providers have their own business bank account products, which have a varied range of features. The best online business accounts also come with low or no monthly fees, multi-currency functionality so you can transact internationally, debit and expense cards, and time savings perks like batch payment processes.
Check out the Wise business account which lets you hold and exchange 50+ currencies, receive payments like a local from 30+ countries, and send money to 80+ countries. There’s a low one time fee to get full account features, with no minimum balance and no ongoing charges.
You’ll be able to manage your money online and on the move, with mid-market exchange rates every time you pay or get paid from overseas. Accounts also offer ways to cut admin, like mass payments, and cloud accounting reconciliation options.
What are the costs?
Opening an account online is usually free, but traditional banks may ask you to deposit a fixed minimum amount as soon as your account is approved. There are also ongoing and transaction costs – which can include:
- Maintenance or fall below fees
- Out of network withdrawal fees
- Check fees
- Foreign transaction fees
- International transfer fees
- Account dormant fees
How do I fund my account?
You’ll usually be able to fund your online US bank account initially with a bank transfer or card payment, and can also often set up direct deposit payments to have your salary or other ongoing payments deposited there.
Can I open an online bank account in the US from abroad?
Few traditional US banks allow you to open a USD account without a US residential address. Instead, mainstream banks tend to point you towards their expat and international banking divisions which can mean high fees or restrictive eligibility requirements.
If you’re looking for an easier way to get US bank details without a US proof of address, check out Revolut or Wise which both offer online and in-app account opening for people from a broad range of countries.
You can open a bank account online in the US with either a traditional bank or a digital provider. Mainstream banks usually ask you to have a US based residential address to access account products – but if you don’t have this available, you can still get an account up and running with online specialist services like Wise or Revolut.
Which banks allow you to open an account online?
Many banks in the US allow customers to open accounts online – check out Bank of America, US Bank, Wells Fargo or Citibank to start your research.
Can I open a bank account online without going to the bank?
You can often open a US bank account online without needing an appointment, as long as you are a US resident, aged over 18 and have your SSN handy. Otherwise, you may need to head to a branch.
What is the easiest bank account to open online?
Many banks let customers open accounts easily online – which is easiest for you depends on your personal situation. US Bank states that their application takes just 5 minutes, while Bank of America suggests an online application takes about 10 minutes.
Can I open an account with no money?
Most mainstream US banks require you to make an initial deposit to activate your account. If you want to open a US account online with no money, check out alternative providers like Wise and Revolut instead.
What bank does not have a monthly fee?
Most large US banks offer basic checking accounts which have easy ways to waive the monthly fees by signing up for extra products, having payments deposited into the account or maintaining a minimum balance.