Q. Do I need an SSN to open a bank account?
A. No. You can open a bank account without SSN, In fact, you can’t get an SSN just to open a bank account.
Q. What do I need to open a bank account?
A. Any document that you may need to re-enter to the US as an international student. These may include, but not limited to your passport, I-20, I-94 – I suggest you to keep all these in one file as you may need them all together from time to time. Also to be safe, bring a verification of your address. Easiest one might be a copy of your signed lease. Last but not least, some cash to deposit in your new account.
Q. How long does it take to open a bank account?
A. As long as you have all the documents, you should be able to open an account right on the spot. May take an hour or two to input all the information and set up the account (not including the wait time). It may take extra time if you want to set up an online account. To get the debit card, credit card, or checks, it usually take 7 to 10 business days.
- Ask if you can get some free checks when you open the account. It would come in handy when you pay rent. You may not be eligible to receive the free check anymore after 30 days of opening an account or so (may vary depends on the bank)
- Set up an online account – don’t forget that you will not be automatically enrolled to online banking.
- Check if you need to keep minimum deposit in your checking or savings account.
- Check if there’s any fees to just keep the account open.
- Speaking from experience with few major banks, Citi Bank has relatively friendly policy to international student, including global transfer between your Citi account in your home country and the new US account, and allowing you to open a credit card account as an international student – very helpful in long-term.
- If you do have SSN, consider opening an account with online bank. They may have more perks including higher interest rate for savings account and free checks. e.g.) Ally Bank
- Your school may have a credit union that may have some nice perks too, including lower rates for loans and free checks. e.g.) USC Credit Union