When you open a bank account in the United States, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Look at the location of branch offices and automatic teller machines (ATM) locations
- Compare banks’ monthly fees, fees for writing checks, whether the bank requires a minimum balance. (Minimum balance requirement should be waived for active students under 23 by presenting a Student ID or visa)
- Most banking operations are done online; however, to open an account you should go to the nearest bank office and speak to a customer service representative
- Present two forms of identification to open an account- your passport, visa, or foreign ID are examples of accepted documents, and proof of a local address (bill, bank statement)
- Ask for an international operations sheet that includes BA Routing, SWIFT code, and an address to receive foreign wire transfers.
Banks offer checking accounts, savings accounts, debit cards, and credit cards to their customers. Checking accounts can be used to write paper checks to pay bills or to pay bills online. Savings accounts do not usually have check-writing privileges. Debit cards draw immediately on the funds in your checking account and can be used for cash withdrawals at ATMs.
When considering a U.S. credit card, international students and scholars should check the credit terms carefully. You will most likely need a Social Security number (SSN) to complete the application process.
On occasion, credit card companies freeze accounts when they notice transactions from locations that are not in the same town as the billing address attached to the credit card. Please notify the credit card company before you travel to avoid a sudden lack of credit.
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