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How to set up a US bank account as a newcomer to the US

11 Apr 2022 - Category: Blog /
bank account us

Are you thinking about moving to the USA? Maybe you’ve just moved and you’re looking to get yourself set up? Whether you are moving for school, work or personal reasons, there will be a few things you’ll need to know to ensure you can get your life started.

One of the first things you’ll need to do is set up a bank account. If you want to earn money, save that money, make investments, pay for things, receive money or send money home, a bank account is a must-have.

In this blog we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about setting up a US bank account, including:

  • The documents you need to set up a bank account in the US
  • Whether you can open a US bank account online
  • Whether you can open a US bank account from abroad
  • The Main US banks
  • The standard banking fees
  • How to send money to the United States

What documents do you need to set up a bank account in the US?

As a newcomer to the US you may have a few questions about the whole banking process. Documentation is one of the most important areas when it comes to banking. If you don’t have the right documents you won’t be able to even begin the process of setting up a bank account.

The documents you’ll need to support your application can vary from bank to bank and they may also vary depending on your circumstances. In general, it is important to have the following documents to hand:

  • Your US address, personal details and contact information
  • Your passport, driver’s license or any other kind of official ID
  • Your immigration documents (i.e. a Green Card or a valid visa)
  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  • An opening deposit payment

If you have just arrived in the US or you are just about to move, it is important to get all of these documents in order.

For non-residents or non-citizens the main issue may be getting an SSN or ITIN. Nearly all US banks will require you to provide a SSN. However, not all foreigners will have an SSN and some may not even be eligible for an SSN. In that case you may still succeed by providing an ITIN, which is a number that is used to help immigrants comply with US tax laws.

Can you open a US bank account online?

Unfortunately, basically all US banks require you to visit a branch in person, at least one if you want. While you’ll be able to start the process online you’ll eventually have to make a visit to a local branch if you want to get your account finalized and opened.

By visiting the bank they will be able to properly verify your identity and they’ll also be able to give you a proper customer service experience by talking you through your options.

Can you open a US bank account from abroad?

If you are a non-resident, you have two options if you want to open a bank account from abroad:

  1. Visit the local branch of an international bank in your home country
  2. Open a Borderless or Passbook account to manage your money until you move

Choosing a US bank

There are plenty of banks in the United States. As well as the main banks like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo (which you can find across the country) there are also local banks that will be specific to the state in which you live.

With Bank of America you choose from one of three consumer banking accounts: Advantage, Advantage Safebalance or Advantage Plus.

The biggest banking in the US offers a range of accounts and is quite accessible for newcomers to the US. You can apply for an everyday checking account, a Chase Premier Plus Checking account, a business checking account and many more.

With just $25 you can open an everyday checking account with Wells Fargo. Students who come to live and study in the US don’t even have to pay the monthly service fee. As with the other major US banks, there are a variety of accounts from which you can choose to ensure you get the right deal for you and your family.

Banking fees

Another consideration you should be aware of when setting up your US bank account are the banking fees you will incur. There are a few vital fees and charges you should know about before you open your account.

  • Monthly services fees

Most banks charge monthly service fees. However, in the majority of cases these fees can be waived if you meet certain criteria such as maintaining a minimum balance.

  • ATM withdrawal fees

If you withdraw money from an ATM that is not connected to your own bank, you may be charged an ATM withdrawal fee. This is a standard fee that most people familiar with spending and withdrawing money should be familiar with.

  • Early closure fees

Observe the small print! Some banks will charge you if you close the account before a certain period of time has passed. These can be quite discreet fees that can sneak up on you if you are not careful.

  • International transfer fees

These fees can be quite weighty. If you want to use your bank to send money overseas you will often be charged quite a lot to do so. Moreover unfavorable exchange rates can make this process even more damaging to your wallet.

How to send money to the US

Now you know about the essentials when it comes to setting up a US bank account, you may be thinking about how you can send money to the US in a way that is secure and inexpensive. This is where Small World can help.

Transferring money to the US is easy with Small World’s international money transfer service. You can send money to the United States with Small World via Bank Deposit or Cash Pickup. Our methods are simple, quick and secure.

Small World enables millions to transfer money across borders everyday. So if you need to support your loved ones in the United States you can rely on Small World.

Your first digital transfer online is always free of fees!



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