How to open a bank account in the USA (2023)

Just moved to the USA, or planning to relocate there soon? Perhaps you’ll soon be studying there, or are planning an exciting gap year adventure along Route 66.

Whatever your reasons for visiting the US, one of the first things you’ll need is a bank account. If you want to earn money during your trip, pay for things or receive money from home, it’s a must-have.

In this guide, we’ll cover all the essentials you need to know about opening a bank account in the US. This includes the documents you’ll need, how to choose the right bank and crucially, how much a US bank account may cost you. So let’s get started.

What documents do I need to open a bank account in the USA?

The documentation you’ll need to support your application for a bank account can vary. It depends on the bank, as well as the US state. But generally, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the following to hand¹:

  • Your full US address, contact info and other personal details
  • Your driver’s licence or passport
  • Your immigration documents (i.e. a valid visa or Green Card)
  • An opening deposit payment.

Crucially, one thing you’ll nearly always be asked for is a Social Security Number (SSN). This can be a real hurdle for non-residents and non-citizens, but it’s not insurmountable.

Some banks will accept applications from foreigners who don’t have, and aren’t eligible for an SSN.

Others may accept something called an ITIN², in place of an SSN. This stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and it’s used to help foreigners or people not eligible for an SSN to comply with US tax laws.

You can apply for an ITIN if you’re a non-citizen and non-resident of the US, if you’ll be filing a US tax return or are married to a US citizen, along with a number of other eligibility criteria³.

Can I open a US bank account online?

Unfortunately, pretty much all banks in the US require at least one visit in person to open a bank account⁴. It’s just standard procedure over there.

This means that although you may be able to start the process of opening a bank account online, you’ll still need to visit a local branch.

It’s usually for the purposes of verifying your identity, but if you’re a non-resident then you may also discuss the banking options available to you without an SSN. This can be really helpful, as a customer service representative can talk you through your options.

You can also pursue another strategy - opening an international account with your existing bank⁵, or another UK bank which has branches in the US. This can make it easier to open an account, especially if you want or need to do it online. To find out whether you meet the requirements for an international account (which can be quite stringent in some cases), get in touch with your bank.

(Video) How to open a bank account in the USA

How to open a US bank account from overseas

There are a few difficulties involved in opening a bank account in the US from overseas. If you live in the UK but are a US citizen, you may be able to start the process of applying online.

But if you’re not a US citizen, you’re likely to have to visit a branch in person – which means flying to the US and making an appointment with your local branch. This is not too tricky if you already plan to visit for work, business or a holiday, but it’s a long way to go otherwise.

The other issue to overcome is being accepted for a bank account in the US without a Social Security Number.

You’ll find that you probably won’t have access to the same banking market as US citizens. You should still be able to get a personal or business bank account as a non-citizen, but you’ll be limited to banks which offer specific bank accounts for customers in your circumstances.

Which US bank is best for my needs?

The US is home to some of the largest and most important financial institutions in the world.

There are a huge number of banks to choose from in the US, but the most famous ones are:

JPMorgan Chase

The biggest bank in the United States⁶, ‘Chase’ bank offers a range of accounts for everyday banking, kids and students, and premium users too.

It’s everyday checking (current) accounts include its most popular, Chase Total Checking, which charges no fees if you deposit more than $500 a month. Other accounts include Chase Secure Banking and Chase Premier Plus Checking.

Students can apply for the low or no fee Chase College Checking, while premium customers can opt for Chase Sapphire Banking or Chase Private Client Checking.

For corporate customers, JPMorgan Chase offers a choice of business checking accounts, including Chase Business Complete Banking for small to mid-sized companies.

Bank of America

Bank of America, just behind JPMorgan Chase in the list of America’s largest banks⁷, offers one main product for consumer banking, Advantage.

But, you can choose one of three accounts under the Advantage umbrella. These are Advantage Plus for everyday banking, the checkless, flexible Advantage SafeBalance or the perk-stuffed Advantage Plus (although you’ll need a higher balance to get the benefits).

Students can access Advantage SafeBalance with no fees. Meanwhile, for business customers, there’s the Business Fundamentals Checking account for small organisations or Business Advantage Checking for larger or growing companies.

Citibank

If you just need a simple everyday bank account, Citibank’s Basic Bank Account is a good bet. You don’t need an opening deposit, and you won’t pay monthly service fees if you meet certain criteria for money coming in and out. There are also special perks for people aged 62+.

(Video) How To Open A US Bank Account & Credit Card ONLINE For A Non Resident (Without SSN)

There are also premium packages available, including Citi Elevate and the Citigold Private Client Package to name just a few.

Small businesses in particular are well catered for at Citibank, as there’s a tiered range of flexible checking accounts to choose from.

It’s bad news for students though, as Citibank doesn’t offer a specific cheap or perk-filled account just for students.

Wells Fargo

You can open an Everyday Checking account with Wells Fargo with just $25, and if you’re a student aged 17-24 you can even swerve the monthly service fee. Alternatively, meet a few pay-in and balance criteria and you can also avoid the $10 monthly charge.

There’s also Clear Access Banking, another checking account targeting students and young people. It offers the same option to waive the monthly fee if you meet certain criteria. Plus, it’s designed specifically with digital-loving users in mind, with a great mobile banking app, contactless debit card and other digital banking features.

Businesses of all sizes can choose from Initiate, Navigate and Optimize business checking accounts at Wells Fargo.

Other banks worth mentioning

The above are some of the largest banks in the US, but they’re far from the only ones. There are literally thousands to choose from.

Some of the others it could be worth looking into include Capital One and Axos Bank (formerly known as Bank of Internet USA).

Capital One’s 360 Checking account has no fees and no minimum balance, and it offers 24/7 mobile banking. There are also more than 40,000 fee-free Capital One ATMs in the US⁸.

Over at Axos Bank, there’s a choice of personal checking accounts offering perks such as low or no fees, cashback on transactions and unlimited ATM withdrawals.

You can also look into online-only and mobile banking companies. These include Chime, NorthOne (a good choice for freelancers and SMEs), MoneyLion and Simple⁹. If you like to manage your money on the move or via an app, and you only need simple features, a digital bank could suit your needs perfectly.

You can compare bank accounts available in your state here.

Bank accounts in the US for international students

Many banks offer specific services and accounts tailored to international students so they can send and receive money from family abroad. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, TD Bank, Capital One all offer bank accounts for international students.

Banking fees in the US

There are a few crucial fees and charges to know about before you open a bank account in the US.

(Video) How To Open A BANK ACCOUNT IN THE USA Online From ANY COUNTRY & Get A US Debit Mastercard

Firstly, monthly service fees. Most banks charge these, but you can often waive these if you meet certain criteria. For example, if you pay in a certain amount each month or maintain a minimum balance.

You should also look out for ATM withdrawal fees, which are usually only charged if you use an ATM from a bank other than your own. You may also be charged if you withdraw money from a teller in person at a branch.

If you have a US bank account and are withdrawing money from an ATM overseas, check whether there’s a charge before going ahead. Always choose the local currency (rather than your home currency) or you could get stung with a terrible exchange rate.

Other fees include a charge for early closure of the account. Check the small print to find out how long your bank requires you to keep the account open for before you can close it or switch.

Lastly, there are international transfer fees. These are nearly always super expensive when you use your bank to send money overseas. To add insult to injury, unfavourable exchange rates can eat into your money even more.

A simple and cheaper alternative – Wise

Luckily, you aren’t stuck with your bank as your only option for international payments. Or if you don’t have a SSN or ITIN and urgently need a way to send and receive money while you’re in the United States.

Open a multi-currency account with Wise and you can start whizzing money around the world before you even set foot in the US. You’ll get US local account details to use, so that friends, family and even employers and clients can pay you in US dollars like a local.

Wise can also help you to save money. You’ll only pay tiny, transparent fees on international payments and currency conversions, and receiving money is free. Better still, you’ll always get the real, mid-market exchange rate, which can make each transaction much cheaper than using your bank.

You can hold 50+ currencies at once, spend using your own linked debit card and track everything using the handy Wise app. It’s a good choice for freelancers and businesses too, giving you an easy way to manage payments wherever you are in the world.

It’s free and easy to open your multi-currency account. You won’t need an SSN or have to wait around for ages. Just provide a valid ID and complete a few simple steps and your account will be open and ready to use.

Join Wise today

So, there you go - all you need to know about opening a bank account in the US. It can be tricky without that all-important Social Security Number, and it would be lovely if you could complete the whole process online from your sofa here in the UK.

But there are ways around these hurdles, starting with contacting your chosen bank to find out how they can help you.

And of course, there’s Wise. If you need to start sending and receiving money right away, a multi-currency account could be just the ticket. You can even be super organised and set one up before you travel to the US, so you can hit the ground running.

(Video) HOW TO OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT IN THE USA WITHOUT A VISA

Get started for free

The best of luck on your American adventure!

Sources used:

  1. Telegraph - how to open bank account in the USA

  2. Check in Price - US bank account for non-residents

  3. IRS.gov - Individual taxpayer identification number

  4. Check in Price - US bank account for non-residents

  5. Wiki - list of largest banks in the USA

  6. Wiki - largest banks in the USA

  7. Capital One - online checking account

  8. Top Mobile Banks - USA digital banks

Sources checked on 10-December 2020.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

(Video) ≫ How to Open a Bank of America Account in the USA 2020 (Checking-Savings-Student)

FAQs

How can I open a bank account in USA? ›

You can apply online for a checking account if you're 18 years or older and a legal U.S. resident. You'll need the following information: Your Social Security number. A valid, government-issued photo ID like a driver's license, passport or state or military ID.

How do you open a bank account answer? ›

Step 1: Visit the official website of the bank in which you wish to open an account. Step 2: Fill in the application form online along with a digital copy of address proof, identity proof, age proof, income/employment proof, and photographs.

How do you open a bank account in the US if you are a foreigner? ›

Requirements for Opening a Bank Account

At least two forms of government-issued ID, such as a valid driver's license or passport. Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) (If you're a non-citizen and don't have a Social Security number, you'll likely need to have an ITIN.)

How much money do you need to open a US bank account? ›

No monthly maintenance fee. Minimum opening deposit of $25.

Which bank is best for foreigners? ›

Here are NerdWallet's picks for best banks for international travel:
  • Charles Schwab Bank: Best for using ATMs.
  • Capital One 360: Best on foreign transaction fees.
  • HSBC Bank: Best for expats with high balances.
  • Citibank: Best for wiring money.
  • Revolut: Best for nonbank multicurrency account.
19 Aug 2022

What are the 7 steps to open a bank account? ›

How To Open A Bank Account In India Online?
  1. Step 1 - Choose a bank in which you want to open your account. ...
  2. Step 2 - Visit the bank branch or its website. ...
  3. Step 3 - Choose a suitable banking product. ...
  4. Step 4 - Provide relevant information and documents. ...
  5. Step 5 - Agree to the terms and conditions of the bank.

How do I start a bank account essay in English? ›

First of all, a person has to go to the bank during its working hours, i.e. between 10 am and 2 p.m. He has to approach the manager of the bank to give an application stating his desire to open a bank account. The bank manager will then give him an application form. That he has to fill and duly affix his photograph.

Which bank is best for opening account? ›

Top Savings Bank Accounts of 2022
  • State Bank of India (SBI) Savings Account. 2.70% p.a.
  • HDFC Bank Savings Account. 3.50% p.a.
  • Kotak Mahindra Bank Savings Account. 3.50% p.a.
  • DCB Bank Savings Account. 6.50% p.a.
  • RBL Bank Savings Account. 6.00% p.a.
  • IndusInd Bank Savings Account. 5.00% p.a.
  • ICICI Savings Bank Account. 3.50% p.a.
10 Aug 2022

Do you need proof of income to open a bank account? ›

Consider bringing your last two pay stubs from work or—in the case of certain loans or a mortgage—at least two years' worth of tax returns. Providing the right paperwork on the spot can help you get immediate access to the services you need.

What is the maximum amount of money you can have in a bank account? ›

Minimum balances aside, how much money can you have in a checking account? There is no maximum limit, but your checking account balance is only FDIC insured up to $250,000. However, as we'll cover shortly, it makes sense to put extra cash somewhere it will earn interest.

What documents do I need for a bank account? ›

What do I need to open a bank account?
  • Government issued photo ID or driver's license.
  • Social Security Card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
  • Passport or Birth Certificate.

What documents do you need to open an account at Bank of America? ›

Your Social Security number. Your current residential address. Your email address. Your account number or debit card number to make your opening deposit into your new Bank of America account.
...
Want us to walk you through enrolling?
  1. Proof of U.S. residency. ...
  2. One primary photo ID. ...
  3. One secondary ID.

Can I open a bank account in USA as a tourist? ›

You must be living in the U.S. to open your account. You'll need to provide both a foreign and U.S. address, as well as two forms of ID and a tax identification number.

How do I open a US bank account without a Social Security number? ›

You are not required to have a social security number to open a checking or savings account. To open a checking or savings account, the bank or credit union will need to verify your name, date of birth, address, and ID number.

Which U.S. Bank is best? ›

The 10 Best Banks in America by Assets Held
  • JPMorgan-Chase. At the top of the list, JPMorgan-Chase holds $3.95 trillion in assets. ...
  • Citibank/Citigroup. ...
  • Bank of America. ...
  • Wells Fargo. ...
  • U.S. Bank/U.S. Bancorp. ...
  • PNC. ...
  • Truist Bank. ...
  • Bank of New York Mellon.
11 Aug 2022

Does U.S. Bank give instant approval? ›

After you submit the application, there are a few things that can happen. The best-case scenario is U.S. Bank instantly approves your application, and you get your card in the mail within seven to 10 business days.

Can I open a bank account without an ID? ›

Banks and credit unions are required to verify your identity when you apply to open an account.

Which US banks are international? ›

  • Capital One 360.
  • Charles Schwab Bank.
  • Citibank CitiGold.
  • HSBC Premier.
  • Alliant Credit Union.
  • First Republic Bank.
  • Ally Bank.
  • Fidelity Investments.

How do new immigrants open bank accounts? ›

What you need to open a bank account
  1. Name and date of birth. To confirm your name and birthday, if you're undocumented, banks typically require one of the following documents: ...
  2. Proof of address. Banks and credit unions often require proof of a street address to open an account. ...
  3. Identification number.

Which bank is the most international? ›

Top International Banks
RankBankNumber of Employees
1JPMorgan Chase & Co243,355
2Bank of America Corp208,000
3Industrial & Commercial Bank of China461,749
4Wells Fargo269,100
39 more rows

What are the 3 types of bank accounts? ›

Savings accounts. Money market accounts (MMAs) Certificate of deposit accounts (CDs)

What are the 5 types of accounts? ›

The 5 Account Types
  • Assets.
  • Liabilities.
  • Expenses.
  • Income (Revenue)
  • Equity.
20 Jul 2022

How do I start a bank account? ›

Generally, banks are required to verify your identity when you open an account.
...
Visit the Bank Branch or Website
  1. A government-issued ID (such as a driver's license, passport, or military ID)
  2. Your Social Security Number.
  3. Your physical and mailing address.
  4. An initial deposit (if required)6.

What is account opening process? ›

Account Opening Process means the process by which the Client submits to the Company an Account Opening Application Form together with all information and documentation required for performing the Client due diligence and identification in accordance with the Applicable Regulations.

How do I open a bank account PPT? ›

How To Open A Bank Account
  1. ACCOUNT OPENING PROCEDURE.
  2. Decide Title Of Account You Want To Open Fixed Account SAVING ACCOUNT.
  3. Approach Bank Of Choice And Meet Its Banker  Decide Upon A Bank To Open An Account In  Approach a Banker For Information  Get An Account Opening Form(AOF)

How do I set up an online bank account? ›

5 Easy Steps To Open A Savings Account Online
  1. Step 1: Get online: ...
  2. Step 2: Keep the documents required for opening a Savings Account handy. ...
  3. Step 3: Experience better banking with video KYC. ...
  4. Step 4: Explore the HDFC Bank Savings Account – to access banking services almost instantly.

Which bank has more benefits? ›

HDFC Bank has another set of premier banking services and products where you have exclusive pricing, phone banking services and lifestyle benefits.
...
Best Saving Accounts from HDFC Bank.
Monthly Average BalanceRs. 5,000 to Rs. 25,000 (depending on variant)
Rate of InterestUp to 50 Lac – 3.0% Above 50 Lac- 3.5%
3 more rows
21 Sept 2022

Which banks allow online account opening? ›

Almost all the banks offer online account opening like State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and other banks.

Which bank is best for students? ›

Compare the Best Banks for Students
CompanyAge RequirementATMs Nationwide (y/n)
Chase Best Overall13 to 24Y
CapitalOne Best for High School Students8 to 18Y
U.S. Bank Best for College Students18+ for solo account, 14-17 jointly with parentY
Ally Best Online Bank18+Y
3 more rows
4 Jun 2022

Can a non US citizen open a bank account in USA? ›

The good news for non-U.S. citizens is they can open a checking account or savings account to avoid some of those high fees, plus they'll have the security of Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Can I open a bank account with tourist visa in USA? ›

Yes, a foreigner can open a US bank account without a SSN. In most cases, you'll need to provide additional documentation such as a passport, visa, and proof of residency. You may also be required to open a business bank account rather than a personal account.

Do you need a SSN to open a bank account? ›

You are not required to have a social security number to open a checking or savings account. To open a checking or savings account, the bank or credit union will need to verify your name, date of birth, address, and ID number.

What documents do I need to open a bank account? ›

Acceptable Forms of ID for Banks
  1. Driver's license.
  2. REAL ID card.
  3. DoD ID card (also known as Department of Defense ID Card)
  4. Passport/Passport card.
  5. Social security card.
  6. Birth certificate.
3 Aug 2022

Can I open a bank account without proof of address? ›

Proof of address and identity are usually needed to open a current account. This can prove a particular problem if you've been living abroad or have no credit history. If you're unable to open a current account, a basic bank account could still be an option. Prepaid cards can also often be used like a bank account.

What is the easiest bank account to open online? ›

Chime. Chime1 is probably the easiest to join. New members can head online and simply enter their basic details — first and last name, email and Social Security number — and voila, that's all!

What forms of ID does Bank of America accept? ›

  • Drivers license with photo.
  • U.S. non driver's license state-issued ID (with photo)
  • U.S. driver's permit (with photo)
  • U.S. Military ID Common Access Card (CAC) (with photo)
  • United States Armed Services ID (with photo)
  • United States state, or local government issued identification card (with photo)

How can I open a US bank account without an address? ›

Opening an account with any major banks and credit unions require a valid customer identification.
...
Requirements for opening bank accounts in the US
  1. Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  2. A government-issued ID by a foreign country.
  3. Unexpired passport/ foreigner driver's license.
  4. Utility bills.
1 Jun 2020

Can I open a bank account with passport? ›

This could be a valid: Government issued photo ID or driver's license. Social Security Card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Passport or Birth Certificate.

Can I open a US bank account if I live abroad? ›

As a non-resident, you have two options if you want to open a bank account from abroad: Visit the local branch of an international bank in your home country. Open a Borderless or Passbook account to manage your money until you move.

Which bank does not require SSN? ›

Citibank: No SSN or ITIN required; you will need to verify your address. PNC: No SSN or ITIN required. Wells Fargo: No SSN required.

Which banks allow you to open an account online? ›

Savings Account By Bank
  • Axis Bank Savings Account.
  • Yes Bank Savings Account.
  • Citibank Savings Account.
  • HSBC Bank Savings Account.
  • ICICI Bank Savings Account.
  • Standard Chartered Bank Savings Account.
  • Canara Bank Savings Account.
  • DBS Bank Savings Account.
6 Jun 2022

How can I get my SSN? ›

Visit your local SSA office.

You can file your application for an SSN card in person at any SSA office. Be prepared to provide your original documents to prove your age, identity and work-authorized immigration status. All evidence of immigration status and work authorization must be unexpired.

What are the 7 steps to open a bank account? ›

How To Open A Bank Account In India Online?
  1. Step 1 - Choose a bank in which you want to open your account. ...
  2. Step 2 - Visit the bank branch or its website. ...
  3. Step 3 - Choose a suitable banking product. ...
  4. Step 4 - Provide relevant information and documents. ...
  5. Step 5 - Agree to the terms and conditions of the bank.

How much is the minimum balance in Bank of America? ›

Bank of America Core Checking Account has a $12 Monthly Maintenance fee which is waived with at least 1 direct deposit of $250 each month or maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more.

What is Bank of America monthly fee? ›

We'll charge this fee for each item over $1 that we authorize and pay, including recurring debit card payments. However, we won't charge this fee if your account balance is overdrawn by $1 or less.
...
Smart money management tools.
Minimum opening deposit
$25$100$100
Monthly maintenance fee
$4.95 or $0$12 or $0$25 or $0
16 more rows

Videos

1. How to open a US Bank Account without travelling to the US?
(James Baker CPA)
2. How to open a bank account in USA| English Subtitle|
(Nishant Goyal)
3. Open US Bank Account Online | www.usbank.com 2021
(Help Deck)
4. How to Open a U.S. Bank Account as Non-US Resident(Without SSN) in 2020 - All you need to know
(GoodFellas)
5. How to Open a US Bank Account from India with Mercury Bank without SSN | 100% Online Non Resident
(Indiamaan)
6. How to open a US bank account from Jamaica
(Demetress Fairman)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Last Updated: 03/08/2023

Views: 5645

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Birthday: 1998-01-29

Address: Apt. 611 3357 Yong Plain, West Audra, IL 70053

Phone: +5819954278378

Job: Construction Director

Hobby: Embroidery, Creative writing, Shopping, Driving, Stand-up comedy, Coffee roasting, Scrapbooking

Introduction: My name is Dr. Pierre Goyette, I am a enchanting, powerful, jolly, rich, graceful, colorful, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.