How to open a U.S. bank account?

If you are thinking or planning to study in the United States for more than a few months, opening an account with an American bank is a great idea that will make your routine there much easier. To help you with this, we have separated in this text everything you need to know to open a bank account in the USA.

  • Countryaah: See population statistics by city and age about the country of United States, including density, growth rates, pyramid, etc.

Account types

Just like here in Brazil, there are two main types of bank accounts available in the USA. Based on your circumstances, consider opening only one or both:

Checking Account

Checking accounts allow you to securely store your money and access it whenever you want. It is a good option to manage your daily expenses and pay your monthly bills. When you open a checking account, you usually receive a debit card, which can be used to withdraw money from ATMs and make purchases. There may be minimum monthly balances and maintenance fees to be paid, but this varies depending on the type of account you open.

Savings Account

Savings accounts are used for long-term deposits and generally offer good interest rates. So if you have large sums of money, opening a savings account alongside a checking account can be a good idea. Keep in mind that minimum balances and service charges vary from bank to bank; so do your research!

TD Bank branch in New York

What do you have in mind when choosing and opening a US bank account?

There are MULTIPLE commercial banks in the USA that dispute customers with similar services. This can make it difficult to choose the right account. Therefore, consider the following before making your decision:

Service Fees

When searching for accounts, pay close attention to which services are free and which will cost more. Think about your banking habits and choose an account that will not charge you for things you will need to do regularly. Some banks, such as the US Bank and TD Bank, do not charge monthly service fees for university accounts.

Overdraft protection

Overdraft protection may seem like a good idea at first, but it’s actually something you should think about very carefully before choosing. Essentially, overdraft protection is where you link your checking account to your savings account, credit card or overdraft credit line. If you spend more money than you have, your bank can transfer more money so that the transaction you want to make continues.

The problem is that the bank will still charge you for using this service, even if you are using your own money. Over time, fees may increase and you may be left with a large bill to pay. Instead, learn not to spend more money than you have and keep track of your spending.

ATMs

It is quite common in the US that banks cover customers who withdraw money from ATMs at other banks. For this reason, you should pay attention to the benches near the university campus or the place where you will live in the USA, so that you don’t have to do this often.

Large national banks like Bank of America will have many branches, so it won’t be a problem to find a place to withdraw money. Regional or community banks are smaller, consequently offering fewer options for withdrawals.

Advantages and benefits

Banks often attract students in the hope that, once they graduate, they will keep their accounts open. For this reason, accounts directed directly to students usually have several advantages, such as no minimum balance requirement, free checks, free debit card, online banking and free ATM transactions. For example, US Bank allows students to use ATMs from other banks free of charge up to four times in each statement period.

Cash bonuses

Many banks offer cash bonuses to try to convince you to open an account with them. These advantages may sound great in theory, but they are generally not that good because there may be restrictions. For example, to receive the bonus, you may need to set up direct deposits that total a certain amount each month. In the long run, choosing an account with no maintenance fee, for example, is a much better option than opting for an account with great gifts.

Bank of America branch in Eagan, Minnesota

Opening an account

The banks with the largest customer base in the USA are Chase Bank, Bank of America, Citi and Wells Fargo, but there are also many regional banks to choose from. To help you choose the perfect bank account for you, click here to view the My Bank Tracker website. Enter your possible location in the U.S. and answer a few questions about your banking habits and what services you are looking for in an account.

After choosing your bank, you need to make an appointment with a local branch to open an account. You will need to provide details such as your full name, phone number, home address and campus address. Be prepared to provide documents such as your rental agreement to support your statements. You will probably need a permanent address to open a bank account. You will also need to bring a cash amount to deposit in your account, in addition to your college enrollment letter, your passport, your I-94 card and your I-20 form.

Great student accounts

Now that you know how to open a US bank account, discover some of the best student bank options in the country:

  • TD Bank
  • US Bank
  • Capital One 360

In common, these banks offer the advantage of not charging monthly maintenance fees or requiring a minimum balance for opening accounts. In addition, all have a wide range of branches and ATMs throughout the country. TD Bank still has the advantage of being open seven days a week to its customers at most branches. It is worth remembering that, also at TD Bank, the non-requirement of a minimum limit for opening an account is only valid for students between 17 and 23 years old.