How to open a bank account in the United States | finder.com

How to open a bank account in the United States

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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 (after comparing services here) from your home bank account to your new one and you’ll be ready to start making purchases.

What kinds of accounts are available to foreigners?

The type of account depends on your personal situation, your reasons for being in Australia and how much you’re willing to pay for additional services and add-ons. Students pay little or no withdrawal and/or management fees since their accounts are quite basic. Professional people would require more elaborate account types, like those that allow for 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.

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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23 Responses

  1. 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).

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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! On this page, you’ll find a table that lists savings account with minimum to no or 0 deposit. You’ll also be able to choose which savings accounts is most right for you as our page will guide you through the process. Read each type of savings account carefully, review their eligibility requirements and find one with the highest earning interest to reach your savings goal. Hope this helps and feel free to touch base with us again!

      Best.
      Nikki

  5. Default Gravatar
    NancyFebruary 28, 2019

    I live in New Zealand, I want to invest in the USA but I need a USA bank account, how do I do this?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ValMarch 4, 2019Staff

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      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.

      Regards,
      Val

  6. Default Gravatar
    GarrettNovember 20, 2018

    My wife is an American citizen with a social security number, currently we reside in Canada. She is going to be starting a new job in the United States in the next couple of months. We need to open a bank account but have yet to find a place to live, thus we have no fixed US address. What are the best steps? She has a valid US passport but obviously no US drivers licence. We are thinking Michigan and PNC bank.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoNovember 23, 2018Staff

      Hey Garrett,

      Thanks for your inquiry and for visiting our page. Bank regulations are varied by state, meaning there will be special requirements in each location Generally most bank requires the following below:

      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 visiting the branch, contact the bank’s customer support and ask about eligibility criteria and other documentation required by non-US citizens to open an account.

      Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

      Best,
      Nikki

  7. Default Gravatar
    AmitSeptember 18, 2018

    I’d like to introduce myself, This is Amit from Gurgaon, India. I’ve newly formed my own firm Net Brain LLC in state of Pennsylvania. I’d like to open a new Business / Checking Account. I believe i can fullfill all necessary requirements to open a checking account for my LLC like EIN number, Articles of Association, Member details, Business Address, Certification of formation, Passport copy and all. I can visit and be present in bank while opening an account. Please suggest me how we can initiate this? I don’t have SSN though i can provide you EIN.

    I look forward for your positive response and warm association.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesSeptember 19, 2018Staff

      Hi Amit,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      You have reached finder. We are a comparison website dedicated to assisting users in their financial decision. Regarding your query on opening a Business/Checking account, you may visit this page to see a panel of banks who may offer you what you need. Kindly review and compare your options on the table displaying the available providers. Once you have chosen a particular provider, you may then click on the “Go to site” button and you will be redirected to the provider’s website where you can proceed with the application or get in touch with their representatives for further inquiries you may have.

      Before applying, please ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria and read through the details of the needed requirements as well as the relevant Product Disclosure Statements/Terms and Conditions when comparing your options before making a decision on whether it is right for you. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  8. Default Gravatar
    RobertSeptember 7, 2018

    How much money can be transferred to me within the US? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Lump Sum? Thanks.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaSeptember 8, 2018Staff

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      The answer to your question depends on your provider. If you would be able to tell me which provider you are with, I might be able to help you further. For now, it would be a good idea to directly get in touch with your provider to obtain a more personalized answer.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  9. Default Gravatar
    CHRISJune 18, 2018

    HI
    CAN I BE ABLE TO CREATE A BANK ACCOUNT IN USA WHILE I’M NOT THE USA RESIDENT?IF YES,WHAT STEPS DO I NEED TO TAKE IN ORDER TO START CREATING MY NEW ACCOUNT?

    • Default Gravatar
      ArnoldJune 18, 2018

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your inquiry

      ​It looks like you’re already on the right page for information on how to open a bank account as a non-resident. Not all banks will open a bank account for a foreigner with no status in the US, but it is generally possible. You will have to check with several banks and basically have paperwork showing your foreign address and proof of id (passport, possibly a drivers license as well).

      The banks highlighted on the page above are good places to start inquiring about opening an account. The process of applying for a bank account will vary between banks. Please contact or pay them a visit for more information.

      Hope this information helps

      Cheers,
      Arnold

  10. Default Gravatar
    KateApril 23, 2018

    Can I open a bank accoujt at a certain bank with an exspired ID?

    • Default Gravatar
      joelmarceloApril 25, 2018

      Hi Kate,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder

      Unfortunately, you can not open a bank account with an expired ID anywhere in the US.

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

      Cheers,
      Joel

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