Most banks and credit unions require a Social Security Number, an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and two forms of identification to open an account. One of the forms of identification should be an important one, such as a passport, driver’s license or national identification card. The second form can be something with your name and address on it, such as an electric bill from the utility company. Many banks and credit unions accept national identification cards, but it is important to check with each bank or credit union for their policy. Some banks will only honor the Social Security Number. Some will accept national identification cards. But they are all different, so it is important to call, or have someone call on your behalf.
The most helpful account for you to open is a checking account, because it is the most commonly used account in the United States. Once you open a checking account, you deposit your paycheck or money in it and can then write checks or use a debit card to make purchases and pay bills. Most financial transactions in the United States do not require cash. Instead most people use debit cards most often. Checks can be used, but not many people in the United States write checks. So, when you open your account, it is important to get a debit card. When people in the United States write checks for purchases, they are asked to present identification. Checks are most useful when paying bills through the mail. It is important to remember that a debit card is not the same as a credit card. You can only use the debit card when you have money in the bank or credit union.
The bank or credit union may ask you if you want a credit card, but be careful. Until you know how the credit system works in the United States, it is best to avoid credit cards. The interest rates charged for using a credit card can be very high. You should also consider opening a savings account at your new bank or credit union. You can put money in it and save it for the future.
1. Date. Enter the date you are writing the check.
2. Payee. Enter the name of the person or company you are going to give the check to.
3. Amount of check in numerals. Enter the amount of the check, in numbers. Don’t leave any space between the preprinted dollar symbol ($) and the numbers indicating the amount of the check; there should be no room for someone to add in extra numbers.
4. Amount of check in words. Enter the amount of the check in words. Start writing at the far left side of the line. Follow the dollar amount by the word “and”, then write the amount of cents over the number 100. Draw a line from the end of the 100 to the end of the line.
5. Name. Your personal information is printed here.
Never list your Social Security Number on your printed check.
6. Signature. Sign your check exactly the way you signed your name on the signature card you filled out when you opened your account.
7. Memo. Use this space to note why you wrote the check. If you are paying a bill, this is a good place to put information requested by the company.
8. Identification numbers. These numbers are used to identify the bank, your account number, and the check number. They are printed in a special magnetic ink that machines can read.
How to Cash a Check
Before cashing a check made out to you, sign your name on the back. Your signature must appear within 1 ½ inches of the top. You can also write “For Deposit Only” and your account number above your signature. This ensures that the money goes into your bank account.
It’s important to keep track of your checking account. Record all of your checks, withdrawals, charges and deposits. However, that is only part of the responsibility of having a checking account. When you receive your bank statement, you should balance your checkbook. This ensures your records correspond with the bank’s records of your account.
4 Steps in Reconciling a Checkbook