How to open a bank account in the USA

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How to open a bank account in the USA

The United States has long been the top destination of many seeking its nature, fun and games, schools or simply looking for a shot at the pursuit of the American dream. It is home of expats by the millions with the numbers growing every day.

If you are looking to start dreaming either working or as a student or retiree, you will need a bank account. Here is our guide on how to open a bank account in the USA.

Documents needed to open a bank account in the USA

There will be plenty of variation in terms of documents from state to state, but in general terms there are a few guidelines you get to go by as a newcomer to the United States. We advice you seek information from a bank's relationship manager to sort things out. You will need:

  • Passport, ID card or driver's license
  • Social Security Number
  • Proof of address such as a lease agreement or mortgage papers and if you are a student some sort of document such as an enrolment form.
  • Immigration documentation

There should not be any problems when it comes to documentation as it is well established the relationships of banking staff and foreigners which are well trained in the matter. However, it is nearly impossible to open an account without a social security number for example.

Can I open a bank account in the USA as a non-resident

Yes it is possible to open a bank account in the United States as a non-resident and banks will have special international account options available to you. These will have different requirements and will vary by bank. They will come with limitations as well if, for example, you make a large deposit. You will be required to prove the origin of the money.

Best banks in the USA

Banking in the United States is large business. It used to be the case that there one many banks flaunting many different labels. Things have changed these days with a lot of banks having acquired each other's operations forming banking giants which are now down to 4 or 5 well known players where most people do their banking at.

One option to consider is to seek out a credit union which is a much smaller bank owned and managed by organizations that seek to better business opportunities for a certain business sector. They are just as great as larger banks and some people swear by them thanks to easier access to loans and - often - much lower fees.

Here are some banks worth considering:

  • JP Morgan Chase: Chase is a world famous bank and it has some interesting features for sure. For starters you can deposit checks by simply taking a picture of it with your cell phone. Second it has thousands of ATMs around the country and all their accounts come with mobile banking standard including their student account.
  • Bank of America: another bank with good features and ubiquitous presence. It is free if you deposit at least 250 every month, otherwise you will be charged 12 dollars to keep the account open. Accounts with with debit cards with free liability protection included. If you are under 23 your account is free. Find their locations here.
  • Citibank: one of the most interesting things about their basic account is the fact you are not required to make an initial deposit to open it, so this is easy if you are just starting out or want to try their service. There is overdraft protection included and a long list of perks including access to concerts, movies and other events at a discount. Here is a list of their ATMs and branches.
  • Wellsfargo: another bank with a long history in the country and one of the largest as well, they have a full service and product offer including basic accounts for 10 dollars (free if you are under 24) and all of the other good stuff including overdraft protection, online and mobile banking and a lot of credit card offers. ATMs and branches are here.

Talking about fees, as you would expect in the United States, fees are low for everyday banking with plenty of  options for waiving monthly maintenance fees if you are depositing your salary in the account every month.

You will also notice you will have easy access to credit cards which is not so normal in many other nations. For these and any other form of loans, you will be required to establish a positive credit history which automatically happens the minute you have a social security number and a bank account and continuously make purchases overtime. It is wise in the USA not to downplay the importance of keeping your accounts paid on time as this will play a critical role on your path to financial success.

The virtual bank account alternative

When transferring money abroad from the USA using a bank, you are paying too much

If you use your bank to send money abroad, you are paying a premium in order to cover their obscenely high operational costs. For example, if you transfer 10 thousand dollars to India, you only get about 9000 dollars worth of rupees back in India thanks to the fact banks charge above the mid market rate.

With B2B Pay, you get 9900 dollars worth of rupees, saving you 900 bucks every time. Also, you get a European virtual bank account you can use to send and receive money in the EU and send money anywhere in the world in 33 currencies.

How to open a bank account in Europe

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple European countries and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.

How to open a bank account overseas

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple countries all over the world and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.

Join the 10 thousand plus businesses already with B2B Pay