How to Open an Account

Compare Banks and Credit Unions

Use the bank and credit union comparison chart to locate the bank or credit union that meets your needs. You can find a branch that is near you by visiting their web site!

Our comparison chart shows you the different features that the banks and credit unions offer.

 Steps to Open Your New Account

1.   Consider meeting with a financial counselor.  If you have been denied an account from a bank or credit union, and ChexSystems was used in the decision process a financial counselor can help you review your ChexSystems report and assist you in finding bank products that would best fit your needs.

2.    Find a participating bank or credit union in your neighborhood.  Bank on Seattle King-County has more than 300 partner branches. You can find a participating bank or credit union in your area by reviewing the list of Financial Partners on this web site. The bank or credit union staff will answer your questions and help you open your new account.

3.    Bring a copy of the Bank and Credit Union Comparison Chart.  Banks and credit unions occasionally have new staff. This will help you in case they aren’t familiar with the Bank On.

4.    Ask them about opening a Bank On account. Our partner branches have special checking and savings programs designed just for you. They’ll answer your questions and help you open an account that’s best for your needs.

5.    Remember to bring some identification. You will need a passport, Washington state ID, or Mexican Matricula card. Some banks and credit unions accept other IDs as well. Most banks and credit unions will request a second form of ID, not including cell phone bills. If you don’t have a Social Security number, you can use your ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number).

6.    Open your new checking and savings account.  The person at the bank or credit union will walk you through the entire process. And they can show you how to sign up for free money management training classes to help you get the most from your new account.

Avoid Overdraft Fees

Know how much money you have in your account!

Be sure you have enough money in your account to cover all checks you write and all withdrawals and purchases you make with an ATM or debit card.

An overdraft fee is charged when you write a check or make a withdrawal from an ATM or use your ATM or debit card to make a purchase for more money than you have in your account. In some cases, a fee may be charged every time you try to take out more than is in your account.

The benefit of a bank declining the purchase saves you money. Here is an example:

If Jane purchases a latte for $2.50, but only has an account balance of $1.00, the transaction will result in her account becoming overdrawn. Her account balance would have a negative balance of $1.50. If the bank paid the $2.50 debit card transaction and charged her a typical overdraft fee of $35.00, Jane’s latte would cost her $37.50 ($2.50 + $35.00 = $37.50). When a bank declines the transaction they will save you the cost of the $35.00 overdraft fee (and not allow you to purchase the latte with your card).

Federal Rules on Overdraft Protection

Your bank must get your permission to enroll you in their overdraft services for debit card and ATM transactions before you can be charged overdraft fees (they can still charge for overdrafts on checks or automatic bill payments). If you agree (“opt in”) to be covered by overdraft protection, you will be allowed to withdraw funds, but will be charged if you don’t have enough money in your account to cover the cost. If you do not agree (do not opt in), your attempt to withdraw from an ATM or use a debit card will be declined if you do not have enough money in your account to cover the request. It is your choice!

Tips for Avoiding Overdraft Fees

No matter whether you choose to “opt in” for overdraft protection, or decide not to be covered, you can avoid overdraft fees by being careful with your account. Here are some tips to protect yourself from overdraft fees:

  1. Keep track of your spending. Don’t rely on the balance at the ATM, which may not be up-to-date. If you use online banking, that can be a useful source of information on your bank balance.
  2. Keep a cushion in your account — aim for at least $50 extra.
  3. Give time for deposits to be credited.  A check deposited in the morning does not mean money is available to be spent that day. It may take several days to “clear” and be available for your use.
  4. If you really run into an emergency, that is the time to dip into your cushion or use a credit card. Overdrawing is NOT the only option.

Features That Help You Avoid Overdraft Fees

  1. Banks and credit unions that automatically decline transactions if you do not have sufficient funds.
  2. Banks and credit unions that link savings accounts to cover overdrafts from a checking account, with no fees when funds from the savings account are used to cover a transaction.
  3. Banks and credit unions that allow you to sign up for text messages or email messages to alert you when your balance is low (you may have to sign up online and bank online).
  4. Banks and credit unions that offer a “checkless” account where only an ATM/debit card available.
  5. No overdraft fee is charged if the total amount overdrawn in one day is less than $10.