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How to open a bank account in the United States

Whether you’re relocating to take advantage of the American education system or work toward the American dream, you’ll need access to money while in the US.

If you’ve recently relocated from another country, you may not have a lot of cash reserves or credit to last long. A US bank account could simplify your financial situation, allowing you to easily save money while paying the many bills required to settle into your new home.

Can I open a bank account as a recent arrival?

As a new arrival to the US, you may find it more difficult to meet the requirements of a bank. You’ll typically need to provide government-issued ID and a Social Security number as well as proof of your creditworthiness.

Online banking is an option, but current laws in place to protect against money laundering could prevent you from successfully opening an account. You may find better results by talking directly with a client representative at a bank’s physical branch.

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What documents will I need to open a US bank account?

Banking regulations differ by state, which means that specific requirements will vary depending on your new location.

Most banks require that you provide:

  • Government-issued ID, including a passport or other photo ID.
  • Social Security number.
  • Proof of your physical address, such as a utility bill.
  • Any immigration forms.

Before meeting with a branch representative, speak with customer support about the documentation required by non-US citizens to open an account.

Banks vary on the type of documents they accept. For example, you may be able to use a utility bill to establish proof of your address.

How much money do I need to open an account?

Depending on the bank, you may need a minimum deposit or even a fee to open an account. Also ask about annual fees, minimum balances and other financial requirements to hold a bank account so that you can plan to meet them once you’re settled.

Once you open your account, make a money transfer from your home bank account to your new one and you’ll be ready to start making purchases. comparing money transfer services to save money on your transfer.

What kinds of accounts are available to foreigners?

The type of account depends on your personal situation, your reasons for being in the US and how much you’re willing to pay for additional services and add-ons. Students pay little or no withdrawal or management fees for their basic accounts. Professionals require more elaborate account types, like joint accounts and access to loan and investment facilities. Here are a few of the account types available to foreigners.

Checking accounts

Also known as a current transaction account in some countries, a checking account lets you pay bills, send and receive money and use a linked debit card for everyday purchases.

Savings account

A savings account accrues interest, letting your money grow. In the US, you may be penalized if you make more than six withdrawals per month from a savings account, so these are best used for money you don’t need to access regularly.

Certificates of deposit (CDs)

Also called a fixed deposit or term deposit in some countries, a CD is ideal for people who want to lock away a large amount of money for a fixed period. The length of the fixed period depends on the bank, and terms can last from as little as one month to over five years. At the end of the fixed period, you can either roll over the amount plus interest for another fixed term, withdraw just the interest or make a full withdrawal.

These often offer higher interest rates than savings account, but there can be penalties if you withdraw money early, making them best suited for money you know you don’t need to access any time soon.

Which bank is best for my needs?

A good start is calling large bank branches in the US that may have a standard procedure for recent arrivals to the US. Ask about the requirements necessary for a new arrival to open a bank account, including any deposits you may be required to make in order to open the account.

Name Product APY Minimum deposit to open ATMs Out-of-network ATM fee
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
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Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Up to 1.00%
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Chime Spending account
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Chime Spending account
N/A
$0
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$2.50
Get rid of fees with this financial app offering consumer-friendly accounts. Chime can also help you save easily and access your paycheck faster.
Current
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Current
N/A
$0
over 55,000 free in-network ATMs
$0
Current connects your money to friends, family, brands, and experiences that matter.
Lili
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Lili
1.00%
$0
32,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide
$2.50
Freelancers get paid up to two days early and can automatically set aside money for taxes with the Lili digital bank account
Chase Total Checking®
Finder Rating: 3 / 5: ★★★★★
Chase Total Checking®
N/A
$0
Access to 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches nationwide
$2.50
Chase Total Checking is easy to use and gives you access to 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches. It offers a $225 signup bonus to new Chase customers
OnJuno
Finder Rating: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
OnJuno
Up to 2.15%
$0
more than 85,000 ATMs nationwide
$0
OnJuno embraces an open banking system for everyone, regardless of their age, location, or income.
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Compare up to 4 providers

TD Bank

One of the 10 largest banks in America, TD Bank was founded more than 150 years ago. It is known for its hassle-free banking experience at than 1,300 locations throughout the country.

TD Bank requires a valid US passport or visa along with another form of valid ID:

  • Employment ID with photo and signature.
  • State-issued ID or driver’s license with signature.
  • Foreign driver’s license with photo.
  • US Employment Authorization Document with photo, signature and expiration date.
  • College ID with photo.
  • Permanent resident card with photo.

HSBC

HSBC is one of the world’s largest banks, serving more 37 million people in 70 countries worldwide.

To open a bank account, you must provide either a noncitizen ID number and expiration date or complete a W-8 or W-9 (if needed). You must also meet the standard requirements for all applicants, providing your:

  • Social Security number.
  • Driver’s license or state ID.
  • Date of birth.
  • Current address.
  • Employment information.
  • Information about any loans or mortgages to confirm ID.

Capital One

Capital One is also among the top 10 largest banks in the country based on deposits.

Requirements for nonresidents to open a bank account include:

  • Driver’s license or state ID.
  • Proof of address, such as a utility bill.
  • Social Security number.

I’m a student — can I open a bank account?

Depending on the bank, international students should be able to open a bank account with the following documentation:

  • Your full name, home address, local address and phone number.
  • A secondary form of ID, such as your student ID, birth certificate, driver’s license or letter from your university’s international students and scholars office.
  • School enrollment verification.
  • A government-issued passport.
  • Your Form I-94.
  • Form I-20, Form DS-2019 or I-797 approval notice.

Bottom line

If you are relocating to the US to work or study, it is possible for you to open a US bank account. You will need to confirm the requirements for the bank you’re interested in as well as gather the documentation necessary. Also ask about maintenance fees so that you can plan ahead.

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25 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    abhiJuly 4, 2019

    I am not USA resident. I need to open business bank account with chase. I have all the requirements except physical address. I have articles and tax id. I will visit bank branch myself to open account. Could anyone tell me about how to get physical address after I visit Atlanta? I will stay with my brother there for 10 days. I need this helps soon. Please help me.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      BellaJuly 5, 2019Staff

      Hi Abhi,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Banking regulations differ by state, which means that specific requirements will vary depending on your new location.
      Most banks require that you provide:

      Government-issued ID, including a passport or other photo ID.
      Social Security number.
      Proof of your physical address, such as a utility bill.
      Any immigration forms

      Before meeting with a branch representative, speak with customer support about the documentation required by non-US citizens to open an account.

      Hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      Bella

    Default Gravatar
    JulioJune 14, 2019

    Hi,

    This is a comment to help people out. This week I was able to open a corporate as well as a personal bank account with Wells Fargo by visiting one of their branches in Atlanta, I wasn’t able to open one in Bank of America, because Bank of America requires you to have an SSN or ITIN. I’m a non-resident alien from Colombia, South America. I have mail forwarding services setup (you need a physical address in the US and you need to fill out form 1583 from the USPS), I also have a US phone number (via Skype), plus passport and another form of ID (in my case a credit card from Colombia). Getting online access was tricky and I had to return to the branch (because online access is going to ask for your SSN/ITIN).

    Default Gravatar
    JuanJune 3, 2019

    I am from Guatemala, Central America and I am interested to open an account in USA. I am retired and my Social Security number is from year 1968. I have my utility bill from Guatemala and my passport is new and my first visa to USA is in 1968 (more or less) and have it to 2023 type B1/B2, do I qualify for open an account and if is positive what do I need?

    Thanks

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniJune 4, 2019Staff

      Hi Juan,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Please note that banking regulations differ by state in the US, which means that specific requirements will vary depending on your new location. Upon arrival, I suggest that you contact your chosen bank to know their required documentation by non-US citizens to open an account since banks vary on the type of documents they accept.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    TerryMarch 17, 2019

    Hi. My family and I have been living last three years with no physical address. We have used addresses of where ever we are currently staying. These addresses were changed with no issues to our bank account. Recently we ran into an issue trying to change address on account. No utility bills. Can’t even open new accounts. We have money stashed on a prepaid card but time is running out on the card. How can I set up a bank account with no proof of residential address? Born and raised in the United States but feeling like an outcast.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesMarch 18, 2019Staff

      Hi Terry,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      You may want to check on alternative US addresses like renting a P.O Box that you could use. Head over to the UPS office to find out how to open one. Banks are required for their users to have a US address included in their accounts. Hope this helps!

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

    Default Gravatar
    AlexMarch 4, 2019

    Hey, which banks do not need a deposit?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoMarch 4, 2019Staff

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      You can find a list of banks that offer savings accounts with no minimum deposit on our Savings Account Finder page. Use our interactive table to sort and compare your options so you can find one that’s most suitable for you.

      Additionally, you can check out our guide to the best savings accounts and check out the top 10 lists we’ve put together. It can help find you a savings account with features and fees that meet all your banking needs and requirements.

      As a reminder, please read through the Product Disclosure Statement before applying and making a decision on whether it is right for you.

      Hope this helps and feel free to touch base with us again!

      Best.
      Nikki

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