How to Bank in the US

Student Banking While in College

There are numerous banking options in the United States, and too many banks to list here. Also, because of some old American laws, most banks only operate in a few states, rather than across the entire country. There are even some banks that only operate within one city. Therefore, finding the right bank for you depends on where you will be living, how much money (on a monthly average) you will need to keep in your account, and how often you will need to visit a branch to complete your transactions. Most Americans rarely go into a bank. Checks are becoming more rare, most places of business accept credit cards, and automated teller machines (that give you access to your money from anywhere in the country) are located everywhere. Many banks also allow their customers to perform most transactions, such as transferring funds and paying bills, from their personal computers.

Choosing a US bank

US student banking is a competitive business and you will find numerous advertisements and solicitations from banks looking for new customers. The monthly fees charged and services provided by banks will vary. Before deciding which bank is best for you, determines what services you will need. Calculate how often you will be transferring money from overseas accounts, how often you will be making deposits, and how many checks you will be writing every month. Also, determine how much money you will be keeping in your account. Most banks will waive fees for basic services if you maintain a minimum monthly balance in your account. Another consideration is how close the nearest branch is to where you will be living, and how many automated teller machines (ATMs) the bank has in the city where you live. Almost all banks charge you fees if you use an ATM from a different bank to access your account. If you will be keeping large amounts of money in your account, consider a bank that offers an interest earning checking account, or a savings account that is linked to your checking account. After making all these considerations and calculations, find out what the banks available to you will charge for the services you need. Also find out what rules and restrictions exist for the account that you choose, and also what penalties will be charged if you don't follow those rules. Remember to choose a bank that is insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation); it will mean that your funds will be insured by the US federal government up to $100,000, should anything happen to the bank. Finally, once you have chosen a bank and opened an account, test their services and make sure that you are happy. You have many banks to choose from, so if the first one does not satisfy all your needs, simply change to a new one.

Opening a US bank account

You will need to transfer a minimum amount of money in order to open a bank account. Depending on the type of account you choose, the amount may be quite small (perhaps as little as $100). The best way to transfer money from a foreign account is through a wire transfer. Although there will probably be a fee for the wire transfer (also called an electronic transfer), it is the fastest way to get your money. American banks will typically place holds on checks deposited into new accounts. A local check deposited into a new account will be held (in other words, the money will not be available) for several days. Checks from foreign banks will be held for much longer, sometimes up to 30 days. You will have to provide some form of identification (usually two different pieces), such as a passport or driver's license, when opening an account.

I may not be accepted or well received by the locals

Americans are some of the friendliest and most hospitable people on this earth. The USA is made up of immigrants from all over the world, and most Americans understand that their history, too, descends from another land. In fact, most Americans are eager to learn about new cultures and they welcome the chance to meet foreigners. Of course, international students should reciprocate by learning and respecting the local laws and cultures. Always ask for help. You will be surprised at how much will be forthcoming.

The USA is not known for certain academic disciplines

When one thinks of innovation, one thinks of the USA. It is no exaggeration that America is a world leader and innovator in thousands of industries. One of the main reasons is because the USA is a rich country and it possesses the infrastructure and the opportunities to train and innovate. Whether it is in molecular biology and DNA or acting and drama, the USA offers some of the best training and employment opportunities of any country in the world. It is this very culture that attracts students from all over the world.

Recent international developments have made the USA dangerous

Daily life in the USA has long returned to normal after the events of September 11. While the government and its people do take more precautions in general, there simply is no cause for alarm or for an alteration to one's academic plans to study in the USA. In fact, applications to colleges in the USA has not decreased and continues to increase constantly. Life in America has never been better!