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ABA: The American Bankers Association
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Are You Without a Bank Account?

Banks are part of the community and want to serve everyone regardless of who they are, where they work or where they live. A bank account is a safe place to keep money and an easy, convenient way to pay bills, cash checks, and buy things online. Checking accounts allow people to use ATMs for quick access to cash and debit cards to make purchases. Bank accounts give people access to their money 24/7 from their home or anywhere in the world.

If you’re without a bank account, you're not alone. Close to 6% of U.S. households don't have a bank account. Some people without a bank account believe that they don't have enough money to open one or are concerned about fees. Others think that they don’t qualify or won’t be able to manage a checking account. Banks want to make sure everyone has access to an account that is safe, affordable and accessible.

Know Your Banking Needs

When you're looking for a bank, it's essential to choose one that offers the cost, convenience and customer service that works for your lifestyle. Ask yourself how you will use your bank account. Will you use it to pay bills online, cash or deposit checks? Do you want the account to include a debit card to make purchases? Will you use the account as a way to save and grow your money? If you know what you want from a bank and how you plan to use bank products, you're more likely to find one that fits your needs.

Banks have many account features or services that can suit customer needs, such as free checking accounts, no ATM fees, no minimum balance, free cashier's checks or interest-bearing savings accounts. Ask a bank representative to review available accounts and services; allow them the opportunity to design a banking relationship that works best for you.

No matter which bank you choose, your money is protected. Deposits up to $250,000 are protected should anything happen to the bank. Look for Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) stickers displayed on doors, teller windows, and bank websites.

Have the Bank Work for You

Here are a few tips to get the most out of your banking experience.

  • What is your language preference? If you prefer speaking in a language other than English, consider bringing a family member or friend with you to the bank who can translate.
  • What time of day do you expect to do most of your banking? Some people prefer to go to the bank during work hours, while others prefer a bank located close to home. Some banks have added more branches to meet the needs of customers.
  • Do you like the convenience of ATMs and other types of online services, like mobile banking, or do you prefer to deal directly with bank staff? Some people like bank branches with regular, evening, or weekend hours, while others like banks that focus more on online services and mobile banking.

Bank On-Certified Accounts

The American Bankers Association, ABA Foundation, and banks across the nation have joined together to expand access to safe and affordable bank accounts. To help achieve that goal we encourage banks of all sizes to offer accounts that meet the Bank On National Account Standards. These accounts are basic, low- or no-fee accounts available to anyone—those new to banking and also those who in the past may have had financial difficulties, including challenges managing a checking account. They’re easy to open and help you build a strong financial foundation that not only gives you access to cash, but helps you pay bills, make purchases, and save money for an emergency.

Bank On-certified accounts

  • are protected from fraud. Your account is protected from unauthorized withdrawals.
  • are low-cost, and in many cases free with activities like direct deposit, debit card usage or online bill pay.
  • do not charge overdraft fees. The accounts generally do not let you spend more money than you have available, but do not charge you for those rare cases when there is an overdraft.
  • are convenient. You can electronically deposit your paycheck, tax refund, and certain government benefits like Social Security payments into the account. You don't have to wait in long lines to cash checks, you can pay bills and make purchases with a debit card, and you can use an ATM.
  • can save you money. You can cash checks and pay bills without paying check-cashing fees or buying money orders.
  • are safe. If something happens to the bank, the government will make sure you get your money back (up to $250,000).
  • can help you build your financial future. Having a bank account can help you obtain credit to buy a home, a car, or get a student and other personal loans.

Find a Bank On Participant

Search for banks that provide Bank On Certified Accounts in your state.

What Do You Need to Open an Account?

If you’ve never opened a bank account before, you’re probably wondering what information and paperwork you need. Whether you’re going into a bank branch or opening an account online, you should start the process prepared with what is required.

  • Age eligibility. You need to be 18 years old to open an account.
  • A photo ID. This allows the bank to match your name to your face. Acceptable forms include a driver’s license or government-issued ID with photo and signature.
  • At least two additional forms of identification. This can be a Social Security card, state ID, passport, or birth certificate.
  • Proof of address. Many banks do not accept P.O. boxes as a valid form of address. You may be required to provide a utility bill, cable bill, or cell phone bill in your name.
  • Email address. This will be required if you open an account online. Even if you open an account in a bank branch, providing your email can make managing your account easier.
  • Initial deposit. This deposit amount will vary based on the Bank On-certified account that you choose but will never be more than $25.

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