Any international student who expects to be in America for more than a few months should open a US bank account.
The bank is not only a safe place to keep your money, but also convenient if you find student work on campus or expect funds to be wired to you from another country.
Banks near college campuses often will cater to students. If your college has a lot of international students, the bank may even be accustomed to the needs, requirements and concerns of international students.
Here’s what you need to know before you open a bank account:
Many banks won’t charge a fee to open an account as long as you deposit a minimum amount and keep a minimum balance. You probably will have to pay a fee if you try to withdraw more money than you have from your account. The bank may also charge a fee from other items or services.
If you expect to keep a low balance in your account, you will want to know how many hours or days you must wait before you can withdraw money from a deposited check. Knowing this could prevent you from overdrawing your account.
All other things being equal, choose the account with the highest interest rate. That’s more free money for you!
You certainly will have to fill out paperwork and show some forms of identification. The bank may ask an international student to show a passport, student ID, visa, license or another document with a name and address.
Can funds be wired directly into the account? Can scholarships and paychecks be directly deposited? Can you pay your utilities or other bills online?
If you attend a large college with a lot of students, you likely will have many banks from which to choose. You can visit each bank and ask for more information before you decide where to open an account. Other international students as well as international student services also may be able to advise you on which banks are accustomed to working with international students.