The sponsors of the federal reserve system hoped to have it include all national banks and all state banks and trust companies of size and importance. The act required each national bank to signify to the Organization Committee its acceptance of the terms and provisions of the act, within sixty days of its passage. Any national bank failing thus to signify its acceptance was to cease acting as a reserve agent upon thirty days' notice from the committee or Federal Reserve Board; and if any national bank failed within one year after the passage of the act to become a member bank, it forfeited its national charter. As soon as the districts were determined, the committee required the members to subscribe to the capital of the federal reserve bank. Only fifteen banks refused to join, and as these were either small, or in process of liquidation or consolidation, or had been organized so recently that they had not had time to signify their acceptance, acceptance of the system was practically unanimous.

The act provides that state banks and trust companies may apply to the Federal Reserve Board for membership in the federal reserve system and may buy stock of the reserve bank. Such a bank, when admitted, must comply with the capital and reserve requirements of national banks and have a paid-up unimpaired capital sufficient to entitle it to become a national bank. In acting upon such applications the board considers the financial condition of the applying bank, the general character of its management, and whether or not its corporate powers are consistent with the requirements of the Federal Reserve Act.