How to Open a USA Bank Account

Petr Novák

Are you traveling to the USA for Work and Travel or another study or work placement? Not traveling, but still wish to establish a personal USA bank account? Discover what you need and how to proceed.

How to Open a USA Bank Account | ©

  1. Table of Contents
    1. Banks in the USA
    2. Bank Accounts in the USA
    3. Setting Up a USA Account with an SSN
    4. How to Open a USA Bank Account without an SSN
    5. Free Dollar Account: Bonus Tip

    Banks in the USA

    Approximately 4,800 banks operate in the USA. Some function nationwide (National Banks), others solely within certain states (Regional Banks), or even within a single city (Community Banks).

    National banks boast the advantage of providing branches or ATMs throughout the USA. Smaller banks maintain fewer ATMs of their own. Withdrawals from foreign ATMs typically incur a charge of $2.50–$3.00.

    The largest banks in the USA include Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo, Chase, and HSBC.

  2. Bank Accounts in the USA

    Bank accounts in the USA don’t differ greatly from ours; you will mainly encounter two basic types:

    Checking Account 💵

    While translated as a checking account, this is essentially a regular bank account. A complementary part of the account is a debit card, meaning you can only spend money you currently have in your account.

    Savings Account 💵

    A savings account functions similarly to those in other countries. Deposits in it earn interest at a higher rate, but you cannot directly make payments from this account. Money must first be transferred to a current account. Some accounts integrate a current account and a savings account simultaneously.

  3. Setting Up a USA Account with an SSN

    With an assigned Social Security Number (SSN), setting up an account isn’t particularly complex. Simply visit any bank branch or try opening an account online. You’ll need at least the following documents to open an account in the USA, though some banks may request additional documents:

    • Passport
    • Social Security Number
    • Document proving residency in the USA
    • Minimum required deposit
  4. How to Open a USA Bank Account without an SSN

    I recommend opening an account with one of the larger banks that maintain branches and ATMs throughout the USA. This way, you can manage any problems while on the move. USA banks often offer bonuses for account opening or for referrals, and you can receive a free $100. Typically, you won’t miss promotional information on the bank’s website.

    Bank of America provides a bank account for international students and workers. To open an account, you require two forms of identification, a USA mailing address, and a Foreign Tax Identification Number (FTIN).

    Wells Fargo provides a free bank account for students aged 13 to 24. Non-USA citizens must present two distinct forms of identification to open one, such as a passport and accompanying credit card or school ID. The account is funded with $25.

    Some schools and universities have direct partnerships with banks. Consult your student affairs office to see if this applies to you. In such cases, setting up a USA account would be substantially easier.

  5. Free Dollar Account: Bonus Tip

    You don’t need to travel to the USA to acquire a dollar bank account; you can conveniently establish one with Wise and Revolut. Both offer free account maintenance, free credit cards, and highly favorable exchange rates. You can open an account from your phone in just a few minutes.

    Both Wise and Revolut offer mobile apps for managing your account, and you can store your credit card in Google Pay or Apple Pay, plus have it mailed to you. In both apps, you can open accounts in dozens of different currencies and accept payments from around the world. Sending money within the platform is free, though there is a fee for transferring money to a traditional bank account. However, these fees are lower than those for international transfers.

    Personally, I utilize both services, thereby saving 3-4% on international payments compared to a debit card from my bank. I use Revolut for personal payments when traveling abroad and for online payments, so I keep separate funds from my main account. We use Wise at my company for paying invoices in foreign currencies.

Have you established a bank account in the USA and can share your personal experience with this issue? I’d be thrilled to hear from you in the comments below, or feel free to email me. If anyone can contribute valuable data to this article based on their own experience, I will happily reward them! :)

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