With all of the unique sights, sounds, and tastes that life in America has to offer, as an international student studying in the United States you have a lot to look forward to during your time abroad. Unfortunately, along with the excitement comes a few mundane tasks that, though less thrilling, are nevertheless necessary in order to make your integration into American society as smooth as possible. Opening a US bank account falls squarely into this category but it is something you should do sooner rather than later.

Why? Opening a bank account allows you to pay for services by check, debit, or even credit card. This is crucial because, unlike other countries, relatively few major services – such as rent, tuition or even renting a car for that road trip you have been dreaming of – can be paid for with cash. As a result, you should plan to set up a bank account soon after you arrive in the US. Fortunately, with proper planning opening a bank account in the US can be as easy as 1-2-3.

1. Ask for suggestions.
Although there are many banks in the US, you may want ask your Office of International Student Services if they know which of the options in the area has worked best with international students in the past. They can tell you which banks work permit international students to open accounts, provide the best international student services, and offer the most convenient locations.

2. Go to the bank prepared.
Procedures for international students vary from bank to bank and sometimes even from branch to branch so before you head to your chosen bank, make sure you bring not only the funds you want to deposit but also as many of the following documents as you can:

  • Passport
  • I-94
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Your student and/or state ID.

3. Enjoy!
Once you have set up the account the world is your oyster. With a bank account you can monitor your finances and budget your fun in the US with ease!