Setting up a bank account is probably high on your list of priorities if you’re thinking of moving to the United States. After all, it gives you access to a whole range of important services like loans and bill payments, not to mention somewhere safe to keep your money. However, opening an account in the US can be complicated, as American banks have to meet strict regulations put in place by the country’s financial regulators, for example to avoid money laundering. So here are a few tips to make the process a bit easier.
Before you leave
There are a couple of steps you can take before you arrive in the US.
Firstly, make sure you know what type of account you want to open. Most banks offer a checking and a savings account. While the savings account is self- explanatory, a checking account is the equivalent of a current account which you can use for everyday banking.
If you already have an account, find out if your bank has branches in the US. It might also offer ‘international’ or ‘offshore’ accounts that don’t require a local address. And if neither of these options is available to you, check if your current provider has relationships with any banks in the US which could speed up the application process.
Opening your account
Some banks may allow you to open an account online, but most will probably expect you to visit a branch in person. Before you go, make sure the bank accepts customers from your country, as different providers have different policies when it comes to dealing with expats.
The bank will ask you for the following documents:
- Proof of identification such as a passport, ID card or driver’s license. You might have to share your immigration paperwork too so bring it with you just in case
- Proof of address like a rental agreement or utility bill
- Your Social Security number, a nine-digit number which you must apply for when you arrive in the US. You’ll also need it to get a job and claim benefits
- Your credit history. Some banks may accept a history from your home country if you have one
If you plan to send money home, bear in mind that banks are among the most expensive forms of remittance, as we discussed in a previous blog post about pricing trends in the industry. Banks charge an average of nearly 11%, while Xpress Money’s global average charge is just 2%. Visit our website for more information