Online banking is simple and can offer great features that rival a walk-in bank or credit union. Some online banks offer great interest rates and very low fees because their operating costs are so low, but you must take care to open an account with an online financial institution that is reputable and offers the customer service you need. Don't just open an account with the first online bank you find.
Choose an online bank or credit union to open your account with. Base your decision on your own familiarity with the financial institution, a recommendation from a friend or family member, or a review from a trusted resource. The financial institution should be insured--FDIC for banks and CUNA for credit unions--and it should have low fees or none at all. Read all the terms and conditions of the account before opening the account to make sure you're getting a good deal.
Find the link on the financial institution's website that allows you to fill out the application for a new account. Some online banks allow you to open an account over the phone, but it is usually easier to open the account using the website. Before filling out the application, be sure that the website is secure and safe. Don't use a shared computer because you'll have to input personal financial information onto the form.
Fill out the application. You will be asked relatively simple questions, such as your contact information. Some online financial institutions require a credit check for every new account, so you may have to grant permission for the financial institution to pull a credit report and review it. When you have finished the application, submit it using the appropriate button.
Make your initial deposit if required. Most online financial institutions have the ability to pull funds from other bank or credit union accounts for a small fee or for no fee at all. Some banks allow new applicants to send a check through the mail, if necessary.
Expect to receive some paperwork in the mail that requires your signature if the online bank cannot accept an online signature. Your account may not be fully active until you return the necessary paperwork to the online financial institution. Don't ignore this paperwork because this will result in a delay of your access to the account.
If you don't want a bank that is solely online, look for a traditional bank offering online banking.
Don't open an account with an online bank that you have never heard of.