4 Myths about Opening a Bank Account
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Options. People love ‘em.

Options in how you like your coffee, the color of your phone cover, and your flavor of toothpaste. Makes you feel in charge, right?

You’ve got more options in banks than ever before, too, though you maybe haven’t experienced a sense of color and flavor in the banking aisle.

Well rest assured, Mighty is like your digital shopping aisle of banks: we make it easier and friendlier to see your different flavors of options, and choose. Variety that makes your mind and spirit light up, like banks focused on building small business, or underrepresented communities, or a more sustainable planet.

“BUT…!” you say. There are a few holdouts. “Opening a bank account will be a grueling, time-intensive ordeal!” you plead. “I think…?” you add. “WHAT IF I SCREW IT UP????!!!”

This is fear talking.

We know it’s been a while since some of you have opened a bank account, and this infrequency of experience can leave you feeling anxious.

We get it.

We’re debunking a few prevalent myths about starting a new bank account to help you put your mind at ease at the thought of the new so you can get on taking charge of picking banks that best serve you and all of your interests.  

Myth #1: I have to visit a bank in person to open an account

Truth: Many banks offer online account opening

If visiting a bank branch sounds like the last thing you’d ever want to do, we’ve got good news for you. Hundreds of banks offer online account opening, and not just big banks. The number of banks that offer this is growing. In one 2017 survey, half of the banks surveyed offered online account opening, a significant jump from previous years.

For banks that don’t yet offer online account opening, many will let you open an account over the phone. This offers not only the benefit of getting to stay at home but also gives you the chance to talk to someone at the bank and get to know the bank’s values.

Just because you don’t HAVE to visit a branch in person, doesn’t mean you can’t. There’s nothing wrong with preferring to visit a branch and getting some face to face time with the people controlling your money!

Myth #2: It takes a long time to open a bank account

Truth: It can take as little as 15 minutes

Thanks to online account opening, you can open a bank account in around 15 minutes. Some banks advertise account-opening times as low as 5 minutes. Considering the amount of time the average person spends on the internet browsing different ways to cook noodles or ideas for organizing a closet, that’s a tiny chunk of your day. 9 out of 10 people agree starting a new bank account is easier than dealing with your cable company (low bar, we know). OK, know a majority of people also say opening a bank account is easier than registering on online shopping sites (are those pair of designer slippers really worth the hassle?).

Of course, opening an account in person can take longer, more like 30 minutes to an hour, accounting for that time it takes you to take in that fresh air as you walk up to the bank door. You can plan ahead and speed things up by making an appointment and having your ID and old addresses ready.

Myth #3: I need to complete tons of paperwork to open a bank account

Truth: In most cases, a government-issued ID is enough

You do not need every single document ever proving your existence. Yes, banks have to abide by regulations to make sure you are exactly who you say you are. (This is good for everyone.) This can usually be accomplished with a government ID and a social security number, and knowledge about your previous addresses. Online, you’ll usually have to answer a few more questions to prove you are who you say you are. In person, your presence helps them verify that you are you. (Some banks might require additional forms of ID beyond government ID and SSN if you walk into the bank; if in doubt call them in advance to confirm!)

Myth #4: I am going to make a huge mistake and create more problems for myself

Truth: You can relax

Relax. Banks on Mighty are insured by the FDIC for up to $250k, and many banks can insure higher amounts if you need that. Even if the bank closes down or is bought out, your money is safe.

Plus, you can keep your old accounts open and work with multiple banks (lots of people do) as you test out new banking relationships and see what works for you.

If you have questions for bank you like the looks of, give them a call and ask to talk to someone. The majority of the banks in the US are more like community-based organizations than global corporations, so the chances are high you’ll talk to a knowledgeable person versus a robot. Many banks would love to receive your call, especially if you identify yourself as someone who values the local or small business market they are serving.

So there you have it. And because we don’t like to dish advice we wouldn’t take, below are the accounts of two Mighty team members taking our own advice and reporting back what happened.

We took our own advice. Here’s what happened:

From Noa, in Chicago:

# of accounts opened: 1

Method of account opening: Visited a branch

Documents needed: Drivers license and utility bill

Minimum Deposit: $200

Fees: None

Time spent opening account: 31 minutes

Part that took the most effort: Traveling to the bank

Reflections and highlights: I walked into the bank with the confidence of an almost college graduate pretending to be an adult and a teller saw me right away. I told the teller, let’s call him Mark, that I’d like to open a savings account and he brought me over to his desk and had me fill out a small form. Mark typed away on his computer while I sat quietly, now much less nervous in part to the calming tune of ‘DJ Got Us Falling In Love’ by Usher playing in the background. I left with instructions on how to download the bank’s app (where I could digitally deposit checks) and clear information on other accounts and potential fees. Now that my account is opened, I still use my favorite apps, just a different routing number. I previously felt this feel-good-buzz when I donated to a cause or bought something with a sustainable label. Now I feel this daily without spending but saving. I’m in control of my money, rather than my bank being on control of me.”

From Sophia, in Seattle:

# of accounts opened: 2

Method of account opening: Online

Documents needed: Driver’s license

Minimum Deposit: $100

Fees: None

Time spent opening account: 16 minutes per account (32 minutes)

Part that took the most effort: Deciding which two new banks I wanted to use

Reflections and highlights:  “I opened two new savings accounts, at two different banks, both of which I had never contacted before, in 32 minutes. Without leaving my house. Still wearing PJs. Including the occasional disruption from my cat’s inexplicable desire to walk across my laptop keyboard.  Both of the banks I chose are out of state. I don’t plan on visiting them in person, ever. I don’t need to. I can access this money digitally. My primary plan is to just let my money stay there and earn interest while I feel good about how the bank is using it. After I see how I like the banks, I might open more accounts with them, and/or make them my primary banks.  The best part of the experience actually happened later that evening, when I was out hiking with friends. They asked me what I did that day, I said I opened two new bank accounts, and they gave me the old “opening a bank account is such a hassle!”. I asked them the last time they tried to open an account. They said it had been decades. At the same time, these same friends have carried their poop and toilet paper in little plastic bags off of mountains because they respect nature enough to leave no trace… and make the effort.  I try to respect our planet too, and that’s why 16 minutes spent in my pajamas opening bank accounts with banks certified for their focus on environmentally sustainability was a pleasure, not a hassle.”

Mighty is a place to find banks in the US that share your values. Reserve your invite to try our features still in development.

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