Stop using your mattress: simple ways to open a bank account

16 March 2018 - 07:00 By EvenMe
123RF/Michael Spring.
123RF/Michael Spring.
Image: 123RF

Before you start working and earning a regular salary, you must have a bank account in your name because your employer will need to deposit your salary into your account. You’ll also need a bank account if you’re applying for a study loan.

You can use the account to access, transfer and manage your money. You’ll start receiving monthly statements. Check these carefully to make sure you don’t get overcharged on your debit orders (payments you set to go off your account automatically every month).

If you’re a little nervous about opening your account, this tips will help you…

Why you need a bank account?

It is important to have a safe and convenient place to manage your money. Keeping your money in a bank account is a better option than keeping it under your mattress. Not only is your money kept away from grubby criminals, it’s also just a swipe, a click or an ATM away.

With most banks, you can access your money using a debit card. You can draw money from an ATM, check how much money you have in your account and even deposit money into your account. The great thing about debit cards is that your money is protected by a personal four or five digit number or pin code.

For your own security, you should never share this pin code with anyone. Not even the bank itself. Be careful when using ATMs or swiping your debit card. Cover the key pad with your other hand. And, if anyone calls, claiming they’re from your bank and ask for your pin... Don’t give it to them.

Now that you know what a bank account is for, let’s look at the documents you’ll need to open an account.

Which bank to choose

There are a number of banks you can open your account at. The best thing to do is to compare their offers for young people and their fees and then choose a bank that looks like it caters for your needs.

How to open your first bank account

It doesn’t matter what bank you choose, you need to follow certain rules to open an account. All banks are governed by the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) which requires banks to verify who is opening the account in order to prevent money laundering. When you open a bank account, you’re also entering into a legal contract with the bank.

You’ll need these documents...

Your green bar coded ID book or your Smart ID card and a utility bill for proof of address.

If you’re renting, get a letter from your landlord stating that you live at your address. If you live at home with your parents, they can write a letter on your behalf confirming your address. To be safe, make sure that you have copies of all your original documents certified at a police station (this is when the police officer, also known as a Commissioner of Oath, compares the original document to your photocopy and verifies that it’s legit).

Always check your account details when the person at the bank has opened it, far too often, there will be a spelling mistake in the name or address, and it will be a hassle to come back and wait in the queue to fix it.

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