What bank should I open an account with?
July 18, 2012 4:00 PM   Subscribe

I need a bank account for some work-related stuff. I need a debit card for it, like yesterday. What nationally available banks can I open a checking account with that will give me a (temporary, at least) debit card immediately? Bonus if they have a lower than $20 minimum balance. I'll be arriving in Wharton, NJ tomorrow to open this, so bigger bonus if there's a branch there.
posted by piedmont to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know a lot people aren't fans, but Bank of America is pretty much everywhere, has a lot of flexible options for opening an account, & provided me with a temporary debit card both times I had to open an account. So, that might suit your immediate purposes and, if you are anti-BofA, you can always move to another bank when you have more time.
posted by katemcd at 4:03 PM on July 18, 2012

Wells Fargo will give you a same day instant debit card that you can use as soon as they activate it. I think there is an official minimum to open an account but I also know that it's possible to open the account without the minimum.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:03 PM on July 18, 2012

I have had more than one credit union open my account and hand me my debit card in the same visit. Credit unions are also just nicer than big banks.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:06 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Chase does this as well.
posted by wile e at 4:09 PM on July 18, 2012

I'm pretty sure any major bank will give you a temporary card immediately. However, I'm not completely sure they'll give you one with less than $20 to open the account. IIRC, they view a debit card as a form of credit, even though it directly debits from your account. And of course a debit card isn't very useful on an account with no money in it anyway.

If you're in a big rush, I'd say don't over-analyze which bank to use too much. Just open it at whatever bank is most convenient (nearest branch, etc.) and then when you have more time to go do research/find a credit union you like/whatever, you can open an account there and stop using the one you open today. You're not locked into using this account forever, so it's not really that big of a commitment. In our family we have five bank and credit union accounts, used for various things... You just have to make sure you keep the account in a state where it's not getting fees (this might require a minimum balance or a periodic direct deposit), or cancel it when you're done with it (less hassle if you truly don't need it for anything anymore).
posted by primethyme at 4:31 PM on July 18, 2012

Would a pre-filled debit card like are sold in drugstores and the like fit your needs? Is what you need just a debit card or a true checking account? You say you need the latter but then you indicate the pressing need is for a debit card. Sorry if I'm misunderstanding.
posted by artlung at 5:56 PM on July 18, 2012

TD Bank is another that will give you a debit card the same day you open the account. if you lose the card or whatever, they will replace it immediately too. it doesn't come later in the mail; you just walk out iwth it. their student account doesn't have a minimum balance; i believe their regular minimum is $100.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:08 PM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Tandem Affinity beat me to the TD Bank recommendation. I've been with them for ages (I started with Commerce in Philadelphia and they were taken over by TD Bank a few years ago). I know that there are several branches in NYC, some in Philadelphia and they've been opening more branches in the DC area, so I'm assuming that they are fairly well represented in NJ. Added bonus, they stay open late on weeknights (I think until 8:00 p.m.) and only slightly more limited hours on the weekends, including Sundays. I've been pretty happy with them. Granted they aren't as ubiquitous as some other banks and aren't available nationwide, but now that so many convenience, grocery, and drug stores allow you to get cash back with purchases, I go that route when I need cash and there isn't a TD Bank ATM around to avoid paying the out of network ATM charges.
posted by kaybdc at 7:15 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding a credit union. We switched (to BECU) around the first of the year and it's been awesome. We got our debit cards literally as we were signing up; they have a machine that prints them out. We then took our shiny new debit cards over to the ATM to make our initial deposit (and verify they were working.) Plus, you can earn a little interest, which few banks offer on low-balance checking. Nationwide ATM access, and very high daily debit transaction limits, another place banks tend to place limitations.
posted by xedrik at 10:53 PM on July 18, 2012

Credit unions: There is a national network of credit unions, which means you can walk into another credit union with another name in another city or state and be treated exactly as if you were their own customer. Not all of them are part of it, but you can find them online and you can ask.

About shared branching
The two closest to Wharton NJ (7 and 9 miles)
posted by whatzit at 3:15 AM on July 19, 2012

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