Opening up a bank account in the U.S. will allow you easy access to your money, the ability to transfer funds from your home country, and the ease to purchase essentials and pay bills during your studies.

How to Choose the Right Bank

There are several different banks located around campus to choose from. When selecting the right fit for you, it is important to identify the right type of account, look for banks that charge low or no fees, and examine the terms and conditions of the account. Be sure to ask about monthly fees, fees for writing checks, minimum required balance, along with banking hours and resources.

How to Open a Bank Account

When you are ready to open your account, visit the bank and request to speak to someone in customer service. You will need to provide a valid passport, visa document, and Form I-20 or DS-2019. You will also need to show proof of your local address. It is recommended to request a letter from International Services indicating you are in valid status. You can do this through the International Services Portal, available through eCampus.

Checking and Savings Account Differences

The main difference between checking and savings accounts is that checking accounts are primarily for accessing your money for daily use while savings accounts are primarily for saving money.

  • Checking Accounts are designed for everyday use, allow you to access your money when and where you need it, provide you easy access to your cash, with debit cards, checks, and digital payment options, and make it easy to transfer funds to other accounts.
  • Savings Accounts are designed to hold money over a long period of time to help you save for larger goals and it is not as easy to transfer funds to other accounts. As your money stays in the account, it will accrue interest and grow over time.

Debit Cards

When you open up a checking account, you will be issued a debit card, which can be used to withdraw money from your account, pay bills, and make purchases. A debit card looks like and functions like a credit card but the money spent is directly taken from your account.

Credit Cards

Credit cards offer you a line of credit that can be used to make purchases, balance transfers and/or cash advances within a pre-approved credit limit. When using a credit card, you must repay the debt or minimum payment every month by the due date on the balance. Most banks offer credit cards and you are required to have a Social Security Number (SSN) in order to apply for a credit card.

Social Security Numbers: What is a Social Security Number, who is eligible, and how to apply.

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