Opening a Bank Account in the US



Having your own personal bank account is not a must but a necessity. You need to deposit your money or your scholarship funds and you also need to withdraw or transfer money for your daily needs. It will be hard to control your personal cash in-flow and out-flow if you share your account with somebody else, except, of course, with your own spouse.

In this section we address the various issues regarding having a bank account in the US.


Choosing a Bank

Choosing an Account type

Difference between a Checking Account and a Saving Account

Documents required for opening a bank account

Related Links
  Banking
  Debit Cards
  Credit Cards
  Improve your Credit Score

  Send Money Abroad
  Student Taxes



Choosing a Bank

Convenience and bank reputation are two major items that you need to consider when you choose a bank. Make sure you have easy access to the bank’s branch or ATM machine. If you don’t have a car, we suggest that you choose a bank which has a branch or an ATM machine in your college campus. Bank’s reputation is not less important. Make sure that your bank is trustworthy, professional and well-reputed. You can visit the bank’s web site or visit the bank’s branch to get some idea about this.

Please note that not all banks will have a branch near your location. You can find out if a particular bank has a branch office in your area or not by using the 'Branch Locator' option on the bank's web site.

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Choosing an Account type

After choosing the bank, you would have to choose the account type. There are two major account types: Checking Account and Saving Account. The common account for students is the Checking Account, but it is your choice to choose your own type of account.

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Difference between a Checking Account and a Saving Account

Checking Account will allow you to withdraw or transfer your money whenever and wherever you need it. However, the interest rate will be very small, almost negligible. With Saving Account, you will get some interest. The longer you keep the money in the bank, the more interest you will be rewarded. However, you cannot access your money anytime you want. If you want, you can have both Checking Account and Saving Account. If you choose for a Checking Account, in most cases you are not required to maintain any balance, however for a Saving Account, you will have to always maintain a minimum balance. The bank representatives can explain you the detailed pros and cons of these accounts. Also, please make sure that when you open any type of account you don’t have to pay for the account maintenance fees. If you go for the Checking Account we will suggest you to also go for ‘Overdraft Protection’. This will protect you from having to pay penalties in case the balance in your account goes below zero. Please check with your bank about this feature.

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Documents required for opening a bank account

Opening a bank account is very easy. To open a bank account, an international student, as anybody else, only needs to provide some ID's. Generally international student will have to show one or two of the following documents:

  • Valid Passport

  • State ID / Driver License

  • Valid I-20 (issued by your University)

  • Social Security Card

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