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How long does it take to open a checking account?

Opening a checking account is a relatively fast process that usually takes anywhere from a few hours to a day to complete.

To open a checking account, be ready to provide your identification, such as a driver’s license, government-issued identification, and social Security number. Most importantly, be prepared to fund your new account. Typically, you will need $25 to open a checking account; however, some online banks may require as little as $1 to open an account.
At Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal), we make it easy to open a checking account!
Call 866.287.6225 today to schedule a no-obligation consultation and learn about our mortgages, home equity lines of credit, auto loans, personal loans, checking and savings accounts, and other banking products. As a full-service financial institution, we look forward to helping you with all your banking needs.

Get Started on Your Checking Account Today!

What are checking accounts and how do they work?

A checking account is a type of financial account that lets people make deposits and withdrawals as needed. This includes using ATMs, depositing checks and cash, writing checks, enrolling your monthly bills in automatic bill pay to ensure on-time payments, transferring money between different accounts, and the ability to make deposit transactions such as receiving direct deposit of your income, tax refund, or pension payments.

What to do before opening a checking account

Before opening a checking account, do some research so you understand the different types of checking accounts available. Credit unions and banks offer checking accounts, and each financial institution has unique account requirements.
As you’ll learn, there are many benefits and advantages to having a checking account. For example, with a checking account, you can easily manage your money and pay bills through automatic payments, set up automatic transfers to other financial accounts, and get paid faster through direct deposit of paychecks and IRS tax refunds.

How to open a checking account

Here are the six steps for how to open a checking account:
  1. Research different checking account types. Credit unions and traditional banks offer several types of checking accounts, such as classic checking and rewards checking.
  2. Comparison shop different credit unions and banks. Each financial institution will offer different interest rates, rewards, and other unique account requirements. Be sure to shop around and choose the location and account that works best for you.
  3. Gather necessary documents. Whether you open your checking account online or in-person, you’ll typically be required to provide your name, address, and social security number. You may also be asked to provide a driver’s license number or other government-issued identification.
  4. Apply for a checking account online. Opening an online account is easy and you can do it from the comfort of your home.
  5. Make an initial deposit. All financial institutions require an initial deposit to open an account. These deposits may range from five dollars to one hundred dollars.
  6. Get your debit card. You will be issued a debit card which will be sent to you in the mail at the address you provide. If you open your account with a bank or credit union in your neighborhood, they may be able to generate a debit card for you at a branch location.

What are some advantages of using a checking account?

  1. Direct deposit. Almost all employers offer direct deposit of paychecks into their employees’ checking accounts. Setting up direct deposit means you don’t have to make a trip to the bank, and it ensures that your money is quickly and safely deposited. The IRS also provides direct deposit of tax refunds.
  2. Don't have to carry cash. Checking accounts are typically linked to a debit card which you can use for point-of-purchase transactions, which means you don’t have to carry large amounts of cash with you.
  3. Easy access to money. ATMs can be found in just about all retail locations, from supermarkets and gas stations, to malls, and restaurants.
  4. Online banking. Use your laptop to pay bills, move money, track your spending, and more. Online and Mobile Banking using your phone make it possible to do nearly any type of transaction.
  5. Easy to open. Most credit unions and banks offer the option to open a checking account through an online application or in person. It’s easy!
  6. Easy money transfers. Transferring money to other checking, savings, money market, brokerage, and investment accounts is easy once you have a checking account.
  7. FDIC / NCUA insurance. Both the NCUA and FDIC are independent federally owned agencies responsible for taking measures to keep financial institutions afloat.

What are the different types of checking accounts?

There are many types of check accounts to choose from!
Regular checking. Also known as Classic Checking, a regular checking account has no extra features, it simply lets you write checks, receive direct deposits, and make ATM deposits and withdrawals. Regular checking doesn't usually have a minimum opening balance or a minimum balance requirement.
Rewards checking. As the name implies, Rewards Checking accounts let you earn points or cash based on purchase amounts when you use your debit card associated with your checking account. The more you spend, the more you earn. A low monthly fee may apply to these accounts.
Free checking. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defines “free” or “no cost” checking as an account that cannot have any monthly service fees, fees for exceeding a specified number of transactions, or any fees to deposit, withdraw, or transfer money. It also means the bank or credit union cannot charge you a fee for not meeting a minimum balance. However, a “free” account may still have certain fees such as ATM fees, overdraft fees, bounced check fees, balance inquiry fees, fees to stop payment on a check, fees on a dormant account, or check-printing fees.
Low balance checking. These accounts are designed for people who will maintain a low balance. This type of account can be good to open for kids who are just starting to learn about and manage their own money.
Interest-bearing checking. One of the advantages of checking accounts is the ability to earn interest on your account balance. Interest-bearing checking accounts pay small dividends on your balance, but you will usually need to maintain a minimum balance to qualify for earned interest. If you do not maintain the minimum balance, you may be charged a penalty fee.
Premium checking. These accounts are offered to people who can deposit and maintain a high checking account balance. Premium checking account benefits often include free checks, no fees, and higher interests paid on the balance.


What can a checking account be used for?
Account holders can make deposits and withdrawals as needed. This includes using ATMs, depositing checks and cash, writing checks, automatic bill pay, and other transactions to pay everyday expenses, as well as making other financial transactions.

How long does it take to get a debit card?

Once you are approved for a checking account and the bank representative submits your debit card request, you should receive the card by mail in 7-14 days.
How old do I need to be to get a checking account?
You need to be 18 years old to open a checking account on your own. A parent, grandparent or legal guardian may open a custodial account for children under 18 years of age.
What to do if your checking account application is denied?
Most people have a ChexSystems report produced by ChexSystems®, a national consumer-reporting agency under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This agency compiles and maintains files on problems that consumers may have had with checking and savings accounts (e.g., account misuses, fraudulent activity, and unpaid negative balances). If you have been denied a checking account, you can request a report to learn what information, if any, is listed in your consumer file at ChexSystems.

Do checking accounts earn interest?

Some checking accounts, called “high-yield” checking accounts, do earn interest. Financial institutions that offer interest in a checking account typically have requirements that must be met for the account to qualify. For example, account holders may need to maintain a specific minimum balance, perform a minimum number of withdrawal/debit transactions each month, use their debit card for a specific number of transactions, and receive direct deposit into the account.
How many checking accounts can I have?
There is no limit to the number of checking accounts a person may have. For example, you may have your own personal account, an account shared with your spouse, an account with your child, and an account shared with another family member or business partner.

Why savvy consumers choose CU SoCal

For over 60 years CU SoCal has been providing financial services, including mortgages, Home Equity Loans, HELOCs, car loans, personal loans, credit cards, and other banking products, to those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County.
Please give us a call today at 866.287.6225 today to schedule a no-obligation loan consultation with a CU SoCal Member Services specialist.

Get Started on Your Checking Account Today!

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Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal) is a leading financial institution empowering those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County to reach their goals and build strong financial futures. CU SoCal provides access to convenient money management services and offers competitive rates and flexible terms on auto loans, mortgages, and VISA credit cards—turning wishing and waiting into achieving and doing.


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