Banking and Finance

How to Open a Free Online Banking Account Without an ID

July 27, 2021

According to recent US online banking statistics, 80% of Americans prefer to bank digitally rather than visit a physical branch.

That’s easy to understand, as mobile and online banking can help play a crucial role in you taking control of your financial life. Digital banking provides tools and features that you often can’t access through traditional banking methods. Likewise, it can offer a variety of important benefits for consumers. All of this makes life easier and encourages you to be better stewards of your money.

Choosing to open an online bank account without giving up an existing one at your local financial institution is important. In fact, having accounts in both a traditional bank and online could give you the best of both worlds: better savings rates, higher rates of profitability, an excellent portfolio of services and face-to-face assistance if necessary.

Now, while you might think that both options are a good fit for you, we do want to clarify that to open a free online banking account, it might not always be free. Sometimes, you can create an account for free but end up having to pay monthly fees down the road just to maintain the account.

Want to know how to open an online banking account that’s actually free? We’ll walk you through the steps and the necessary requirements for this procedure.

Who Can Open a Bank Account Online?

Basically anyone who has a valid form of identification and meets the citizenship and age requirements can open a bank account online in the United States. 

Traditionally, you’ll need to either show proof of citizenship or at least a residency visa if you don’t have a social security number. However, certain banks will also accept an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number as proof as well.

Banks will verify your information when completing the application. Most online banks allow you to create an account, well, online. Traditional banks such as Bank of America or Wells Fargo prefer that you visit a physical branch to open an account, which can be a hassle.

Can I Open A Free Online Bank Account?

Today, there are plenty of online bank accounts that are free and do not require a deposit. However, in other cases, the ability to open a free account might depend on whether or not you have to pay a minimum initial deposit.

For example, Ally Bank, Axos Bank Essential Checking, and CapitalOne 360 Checking are all accounts that you can open with a $0 minimum deposit. Certain accounts from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase require minimum deposits starting from about $25 to open an account.

Is a Bank Account Without An ID Possible?

As mentioned above, it is not possible to carry out any financial procedure without having the proper identification. In most cases, this means that you need to have a social security number (SSN) or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

Now, depending on the bank, you can open an account by proving your identity via a passport number, a valid visa, and a US address. 

Finally, to continue the process, nearly every bank will also verify your name, date of birth, and current address (and, as mentioned above, that address needs to be a US address).

What’s the Deal with the SSN Requirement?

We get it; it’s annoying. This is especially true if you’re an international student looking to study in the US. You might not need a SSN for the long-term, but it still helps to have a bank account and debit card. Here’s what’s up with that requirement, though.

And, there are also strict international and local laws, as well as the agreements between the Internal Revenue Service and banks, credit unions, foreign financial institutions and savings and loan associations around the world. So, while it might be a headache for you, it ultimately comes down to a set of rules that banks have to follow in the name of security and safety.

How to Open a Free Online Banking Account

Now, we can finally answer the big question: How can you open a free online banking account and do so without an ID?

You will have to find banks that don't require initial deposits, as we mentioned above, banking accounts like Ally Bank, Axos Bank Essential Checking, and CapitalOne 360 Checking don't require you to put deposit initially. And, these are not all.

Regarding the requirement of IDs, ask the banks what kind of ID do they require. Some banks are making banking accessible for non-citizens and international students, so they might need your passport, if not SSN. Based on your own needs, choose bank accounts that require what you already have.

For example, bank accounts require these listed below might be something right for you.

  • A passport number
  • A valid visa
  • A US address

Don't Forget to Build Your Credit History

One more thing we would like to add is that, to live a great life in the U.S., a bank account is far from enough. In this society that is based on credit, build up your own credit history is something as important as having a bank account. So how? The easiest ways can be:

Having credit cards is easy to understand, but what about reporting your rents? Simple. As long as you have rented houses/apartments in the near past, or you are renting right now, you can get these rental history and ongoing rent reported to credit bureaus. This is gonna boost your credit instantly. Sadly, you can't do rent reporting by yourself; you will need to find rent reporting services that have partnerships with credit bureaus.

So here we are! Cheese Rent Reporting is on the way. Up to 2 years of rental history? Your future ongoing rent? We can have them both reported and build up your credit right away!

Plus, Cheese has another way to either start to build or improve your credit score: Cheese Credit Builder Loan (What is a credit builder loan?) With Cheese Credit Builder Loan, you can save money & build credit at the same time.

With Cheese, credit building has never been easier!