Nearly 82% of households have bank accounts in the U.S., according to the FDIC. If you’re planning to study in the U.S. as an international student, it’s a good idea to look into opening one for yourself.
It’s important to remember that not all financial institutions offer bank accounts to international students or visitors. Keep this in mind as you explore banking opportunities in the U.S.
The right bank account for you comes down to your needs. Evaluate different banks based on:
You can ask other international students on campus or the international student office what bank they use or suggest, in case you need some references.
There are usually two types of accounts to explore: checking and savings. Savings accounts are there to earn a little bit of interest and aren’t normally for making a lot of transactions. You might want one of these if you only have a few bills and want to keep your money safe without taking a lot of it out.
Checking accounts let you withdraw money from ATMs whenever you’d like as well as make payments with your debit card similar to how a credit card works. You can usually set up direct deposit to this account so if you have a job, your paycheck goes directly into your checking account. You can also set up autopay, which means you can automatically pay bills at the same time every month without falling behind.
Depending on where you open your account, you might face limitations for both. For instance, you might have to have a minimum amount in your account every month or you could get charged a fee. For checking accounts, you can usually avoid fees if you have direct deposit, but not every account holder has that available to them.
In general, you’ll need:
Remember that all banking institutions vary slightly in their requirements. So, make sure you find out what you need before heading to a branch to open your account.
Some banks are online-only, so the only way to open an account would be through the bank’s website or mobile app. Other institutions allow accounts to be opened both online and in-person. Some might require you to be in person to open your account.
Once you have all your documents and the minimum deposit required, you can open your account. You’ll be prompted along the way as you fill out your information and attach any required documents. If you’re opening your account online, you can initiate a wire transfer to move your funds to your new account, but keep in mind that international wire transfers might come with an additional fee.
Not all banks offer accounts to international students. But there are lots of big banks that offer accounts to those who are studying in the U.S. and need a U.S.-based bank account. Here are a few of them:
You might find other banks – both online and in person – that welcome international students as customers. Make sure you’re eligible and have all your necessary documents before signing up. Try to get this done as soon as you can, just in case there’s any delay. The bank may take some time to process your paperwork, you may be required to provide additional documentation for verification, and it may take time for your first deposit to clear your new account.
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