You have moved to the USA and now you need to access your money. Here’s how to apply for a bank account when you get to the US.
Before you leave home, double check if you bank has an association with an American bank. Some banks with international offices allow you to apply to open an account before you leave if you are with a bank that has a presence in America. There are a few banks that have international relationships with American banks such as , , and
If you have not arrived an online application will probably be denied so do your re before you go but apply by going into a branch. This is mainly because America relies heavily on credit history and as an expat you have to begin.
Unfortunately, opening a bank account in the U.S. is quite difficult but with a little patience and the right paperwork we can help you get get moving.
Do some re about the area you are going to as bank regulations change state to state but as a general rule you will need the following to apply.
What you will need to apply for a bank account (for most banks)
Social Security number for those who haven’t got one see our video on how to apply for a SSN see the article below (video coming).
An addressand take along your lease agreement if you have one
Any additional immigration documents that you think will assist your case such as bank documents from your banks at home
Employment details such as letters of employment and salary
A little bit of cash
If you are a student bring along your enrolment forms
Note that most banks ask you to fill out an application form but depending on where you go, they might walk you through it.
Let’s talk a little bit about credit history. A large amount of the US economy still works with checks, ( most rent is paid via check) and credit however, no matter how good your credit score is at home it will not help you at all in the states, you will need to start from scratch.
After you open a bank account here in the US, ask the bank manager how long you need to wait to apply for a credit card. Apply for a credit card as quickly as you can. This is generally about a month from when you open you account.
When you do get your credit card use it regularly and be sure to pay all bills on time as you do not want to damage your credit record.
Let’s take a look at a few of the larger banks so you can get your head around the current options. Note these change constantly so do consult with an agent at the bank.
Which bank is best for me?
This is the biggest bank in the US. They are useful because they have a range of ATM’s and store fronts across the country.
They have a free student account that’s available for five years you have to be between 17 and 24 to qualify so it’s great for international students.
Their business account is $10 per month but is waived if you have more than $1,500 in the bank.
Basic account – $12 per month – the fee is waived if you deposit at least $250.00 per month.
Students – Free if you are under 23. There is no student account with the Bank of America this is the standard ‘Basic Account ‘
Students – again they do not have a specific student account
They do have some nice perks like having officers throughout the world along with coupons for things like event and movie tickets.
Basic / Bank account – $10.00 per month – waived to $5.00 if you are aged $17 to 24.
Perks: visa debit card and free online payments
If you are not someone to go for the big guys, the Bank of Internet USA
The USA has ATM’s drive up ATM’s and branches where you can draw out cash. They also have the ability to give cash out during a transation if you use your card using the ‘cash back’ feature at larger stores such as major grocery stores.
Note, most banks will charge a fee if you do not use your bank’s ATM.
ATM and human bank teller fees
Withdrawing money from an ATM is free in the U.S. if you use one of your bank’s ATMs.
However, many banks will charge a fee if you withdraw money from another bank’s ATM. Other banks only offer a limited number of free withdrawals per month.
How do I transfer my money from home?
You can use your bank to transfer funds however, we love Transferwise. They are competitive because they are an online company that deals with exchanging money rather than sending it. For example, if someone in Australia is going to the UK and someone in the UK is heading to Australia, rather than do the exchange they just swap. The money is transferred into a transferwise banks account and then transferred to the new party. This means that it can save you a lot in transfer fees.
For more information, see our article here about using .
Feature photo by on
Click the logo to be taken to their site.
TransferWise is a great new way to transfer money internationally. It can be used for both personal transfers and business transfers.
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I used TransferWise for the first time. You send money into a random bank account with the sinking feeling that you may never see it again. Thankfully this clever new company is as trustworthy as they make out. I had my money in my bank account within the time they had promised at half the cost of what the banks would have charged me.
How does it work?
Basically instead of sending your money overseas incurring fees they have large pools and simply exchange the money like an exchange student. No currency swaps they just note that you have transferred it and take it out of the pool in each country.
We are an associate partner with Transferwise but that is only because we believe in them and endorse them. If you love them too check them out here.
For more information take a look at their video which walks you through the process.
Credits: Feature image Jimi Filipovski