Before you open a bank account, educate yourself on available options. Learn about the types of bank accounts, how best to use them, and key banking terminology.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • Which bank is best?

      There is no one bank that’s best for everyone. Choose a bank based on your needs. Are you looking for an online-only bank or one with branches you can visit in person? Do you want a large bank with lots of services and locations or a smaller institution that may have better rates and lower fees but fewer branches and services? Once you answer those questions, you can narrow your search and then look at reputable reviews to find the best bank for you.

    • How can I find my routing number?

      Look for your routing number (also known as your ABA number) in the lower left part of a check or deposit slip from your personal checking account. It is a nine-digit number that identifies the bank to other banks so that they can collect funds when you write a check. The routing number is usually to the left of your account number.

    • How do I deposit a check?

      There are several ways to deposit checks at most financial institutions. You may be able to deposit it in person at a branch, via a mobile app, or at an ATM. You’ll need to endorse the check by signing your name on the back, and you may need to fill out a deposit slip as well.

    • How can I send a wire transfer?

      You can wire money through your bank to someone else in the U.S. or in another country. You’ll need to fill out a form from your bank, either in person or online, that lists your bank account number and the recipient’s name, account details, and routing number (for international transfers, you’ll need the SWIFT ID or BIC instead of a routing number). If the recipient is in the U.S., they may be able to get the funds the same day you make the transfer. Fees typically run from $15 to $50.

    • How do I stop payment on a check?

      You can stop payment on a check any time before it has been cashed. You’ll need to call your bank and give them the check number, amount, payee, and date. You’ll also need to pay a fee ($30 is typical) and follow up on your request in writing. The bank will flag the check and reject it if anyone tries to cash it. Most stop check orders last for about six months.

    Key Terms

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    Retirement Money Market Account
    Woman paying with an app in store
    Digital Wallet
    Aspiration logo on graphic background
    Aspiration Banking Review
    The Amex Serve card can be used like a checking account.
    How to Use a Prepaid Amex Serve Card Like a Checking Account
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    Is Popmoney Legitimate?
    Happy Bank Teller Serving Customer
    Check-Cashing Service
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    What Is an Overdraft?
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    The 5 Best Banking Apps of 2022
    Woman at ATM holds her bank card and coffee cup
    Demand Deposit
    Customer holding document and smiling while bank teller serving.
    Credit Union
    Woman writing a check or balancing her checkbook; bills and documents are on the desk along with a laptop
    Canceled Check
    A person at a bank counter making a financial transaction
    Chartered Bank
    Illustration of money wire transfers options. Text reads: Ways to transfer money between banks; bank-to-bank transfer, wire transfer, apps and online payment tools, and write yourself a check
    Best Ways to Transfer Money From One Bank to Another
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    International Bank Account Number (IBAN)
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    Correspondent Bank
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    Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) System
    Smiling female bank teller hands cash to female customer
    Bank Reserves
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    Private Banking
    American currency changing hands at cash window
    The 15 Biggest Banks in America
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    Demand Draft
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    Payroll Card
    Top view of woman at wooden desk with credit card and laptop
    Bank of America Review: Like High Fees and Low APYs? You’ll Love BofA
    Consumer using an ATM
    Bank employee explains services to new customer using brochure
    Positive Pay
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    Debit Memorandum
    Bank customers waiting in line for a teller
    Excess Reserves
    A person in a cafe takes a photo of a check with her phone.
    Cashier’s Check vs. Certified Check: What’s the Difference?
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    Where Can I Reload My Netspend Card?
    It's as easy as taking your phone out
    Send Money as Easily as You Send an Email With Cash App
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    Deceased Account
    Coins, Growing
    Save Money with Bank of America's "Keep the Change" Program
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    Can Someone Send Money to My Netspend Card?
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    Woman processing an online order from an office in her home
    Payment Gateway
    A person takes a picture of a check.
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    Where to Exchange Currency at the Best Rates
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    Net Interest Rate Spread
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    Regulation E
    Cash App
    How to Use Cash App
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    The Difference Between APR and APY in Interest Rates
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    How Long Should You Keep Bank Statements?
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    What Happens to a Bank Account When Someone Dies?
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    Minority Depository Institution
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    A woman wonders why her savings account has been labeled as dormant
    Dormant Account
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    What Happens If You Deposit More Than $10,000 in the Bank?
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    How To Cancel a Pending Transaction
    Image shows a gravestone, a piggybank, and a last will and testament. Text reads: FYI: Right of survivorship for a joint account. Surviving co-owner can take full ownership of the account by presenting the deceased owner's original death certificate to the financial institution. Check with your financial institution to see if your joint account carries automatic rights of survivorship. You may have to sign additional documents to enact this feature.
    What Happens to a Joint Account When One of the Owners Dies?
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    Relationship Banking
    A couple in a bank or office setting holds a check while talking to a financial advisor.
    Deposit Interest Rate
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    Should You Tap Into Your Thrift Savings Plan for a Loan?
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    Money Market Yield
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    Sweep Account
    A woman scans through bills in front of a laptop
    Regulation V
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    Roll Rate
    A sign advertises the money transfer service Western Union
    When Should You Use Western Union for Payments?
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    Financial Cooperative
    A man holds a toddler on his shoulders and a house is in the background.
    Proof of Deposit (POD)
    Person banking at home
    Home Banking
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    Industrial Bank

    Page Sources

    1. "How Do I Transfer Money From My Financial Institution To A Family Member Or Friend?"

    2. "Can The Bank Pay A Check After I Place A Stop Payment On It?"

    3. "A Newcomer’s Guide To Managing Money, Ways To Pay Your Bills," Page 1.

    4. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. "About the FDIC."

    5. Chex Systems. "Chex Systems."

    6. Bureau of the Fiscal Service. "Automated Clearing House."