If you plan to settle in the United States, you may want to open a bank account before you arrive. Whether you’re a college student, working there, or moving there semi-permanently, we’ll tell you how to get a bank account, even if you’re not yet a resident.
It can be difficult to open a bank account in the United States if you’re not a resident, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We offer you a few options for obtaining a bank account in the United States.
Get a US bank account as a non-citizen
Most US banks require you to be a US citizen or permanent resident before they’ll let you open an account. This means that you will usually need a US Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and US proof of address. You will also need a document such as an unexpired passport, valid driver’s license, or government ID from your country and some banks will also ask you for immigration documents.
If you can meet these requirements, you can open an account.
Your options for opening an account in the United States
Here are the different options available to you to open an account with a bank in the United States:
- Use a “correspondent” bank: This is the bank in your home country that has a relationship with a US bank and helps you open an account there. Not all banks have this type of relationship and a US bank may not allow you to open an account.
- Open an international account: This is where you open an overseas account with a bank. You will need to deposit a large amount of money there and maintain a high balance in the account.
- Go to the US to open an account: Not ideal, but you can visit the US, go to a bank and open an account there. You will need certain documents, so always call ahead to find out the requirements before making the trip.
- Open a TransferWise Borderless Account: Often the easiest option, TransferWise lets you create a “virtual” account in the US that you can use as a regular bank account.
Types of US Bank Accounts
Most US bank accounts are checking accounts or savings accounts. Checking accounts work like current accounts in other countries and offer services like:
- Access to online banking services
- Invoices and other payments
- Account transfers
- Bank transfers and direct debits
- Recurring payments
- Debit cards
- ATM withdrawals
Savings accounts allow you to save over time and earn interest on your savings. There are often restrictions on the frequency of withdrawals from a savings account. Both checking and savings accounts are provided:
- A routing number that identifies your bank
- An account number that identifies your account
US correspondent bank accounts
One of the ways to get a US bank account could be through a “correspondent banking relationship”. This is a partnership between a bank in your home country and a bank in the United States. In these circumstances, your “home” bank can help you open an account with its partner bank. Contact your home bank to find out if it has any relationships or partnerships with US banks, and what you need to do to open an account in the US.
International bank accounts
Some banks have an international presence and may allow you to open an international account. These can be the major US banks, listed below, and other banks like HSBC. These international options are specialized accounts, and you can sometimes open them even if you don’t have a US address. However, they have some drawbacks:
- You will probably need to make a large initial deposit, sometimes over $100,000
- You will need to maintain a high minimum balance on the account
Maintaining the account is likely to incur an ongoing monthly fee. This puts international accounts out of reach for most people.
Go to the United States to open an account
In many cases, your best option for opening an account is to travel to the United States and open your bank account in person. It is very difficult to open a bank account online without proof of residency, so you should contact the bank first to check what their account opening requirements are for people who intend to become temporary or permanent residents.
Below you will find the most famous banks and the conditions for opening an account.
A checking account can be opened individually or jointly, and you will need your basic information, social security number, driver’s license, and a minimum opening deposit amount. The account can usually be linked to a debit card – which gives you quick access to cash – and can be managed online, as well as at ATMs.
To apply, you must be a US citizen or resident and at least 18 years old. You will need to provide a physical address in the United States, your date of birth, and your social security number for all applicants. Federal law requires us to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account.
You can contact Citi internationally at 210-677-3789.
Chase requires that you have a Social Security/ITIN number and a US mailing address before you can open a checking account with them.
You can contact Chase internationally at 1-713-262-3300.
Bank of America
To speed up the application process, please have the following information ready when you begin your application:
- Your social security number
- Your current residential address
- Personal information of co-applicant (if applicable)
If you are missing any of these pieces of information, you can also schedule an appointment with an associate at your local financial center for a day and time that works best for you.
You can contact Bank of America internationally at 1-315-724-4022.
“You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the United States to open a checking account with US Bank. You will also need a social security number and a driver’s license or military or state ID. Once your application is approved, you will be asked to submit your opening deposit to activate your account”.
You can contact US Bank internationally at 1-503-401-9991