How to Open a Bank Account in the United States (2024)

Last updated on August 3rd, 2023 at 12:28 am

If you are traveling, studying, or living in the United States, you will likely need to open a bank account. This guide will show you how to do that quickly and easily. We’ll also provide a few tips on what to look for when choosing a bank. Keep in mind that you may be able to open a bank account before you arrive in the U.S., so it’s best to check with your bank or credit union back home.


If you’ve just moved from another nation, you might not have enough credit or cash on hand to last for very long. Your financial position could be streamlined with a US bank account, enabling you to conveniently save money while paying the numerous bills necessary to move into your new house.


It can be more challenging for you to satisfy a bank’s requirements if you’re a recent immigrant to the US. Typically, you’ll be asked for a government-issued photo ID, your Social Security number, and evidence of your creditworthiness.

Online banking is a possibility, but certain regulations designed to prevent money laundering may make it difficult for you to obtain an account. Direct communication with a client representative at a bank’s physical location may yield better outcomes.

State-by-state variations in banking laws mean that depending on where you go, different conditions will apply.

To open a bank account in the United States, you will need to have some basic information and documents. First, you’ll need to have your Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. You’ll also need a valid form of identification, such as a passport or driver’s license. Finally, you’ll need proof of your current address, such as a utility bill or lease agreement.

Once you have all of this information, you can start looking for a bank that meets your needs. There are many different top banks in the USA, so it’s important to do some research before making a decision. Consider things like fees, branch locations, ATM access, and online banking options. Once you’ve found a few U.S banks that you are interested in, you can start the account opening process.


You might be wondering what paperwork you would need to open a bank account in the U.S? Well, state and federal banking laws differ, which means that the terms you’ll need to fulfill will vary from state to state.

Certain banks require that you submit the following documentation:

  • A passport or other photo ID that is issued by the government.
  • Personal identification number/Social security number.
  • Providing evidence of your physical address, like a utility bill.
  • Any immigration paperwork.

Ensure you contact customer service to learn more about the paperwork non-US citizens need to create an account before meeting with a branch agent. The kinds of documentation that banks accept differ. For instance, you might be able to prove your address with a utility statement.


The amount of money you need to open a US bank account will depend on the type of account and the financial institution. For example, some checking accounts may require that you open with at least $25, while others have no minimum deposit requirement.

Saving accounts typically have higher minimum deposit requirements — sometimes as high as $500 — but offer better interest rates than checking accounts. Money market accounts often have even higher minimum deposit requirements, but offer access to features like check-writing privileges and a debit card.

Citizens Bank offers new customers bonuses worth up to $350 when they open certain types of checking and savings accounts and meet other requirements like using a Citizens Bank ATM at least once per month.

Chase also offers promotions for new checking and savings customers. One current promotion offers up to $300 when you open a Chase Total Checking account with qualifying activities. Another offers $200 when you open a Chase Savings account and deposit at least $15,000 within 20 days and maintain that balance for 90 days.


What sort of accounts are available to foreign nationals you might ask?

Your personal circumstances, your motivations for living in the US, and your willingness to pay for optional services and add-ons will all influence the sort of account you choose. For their basic accounts, students pay little to no withdrawal or administrative fees. Professionals need access to credit and investment facilities as well as more complex account types including joint accounts.

The many account kinds that are offered to foreigners are listed below.


A checking account, sometimes known as a current transaction account in other countries, is an account that allows you to pay your bills, send and receive funds, and make small purchases with a linked debit card.

To open a checking account, you must meet the bank’s requirements for identification and creditworthiness. You will also need to make an initial deposit, which varies by bank. Once your account is opened, you can use it to write checks or make electronic transfers.

You may be able to find special checking accounts for foreigners that offer perks like free withdrawals at foreign ATMs and low international transaction fees. For example, HSBC offers a Premier World Elite Mastercard that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside of the United States.


A savings account is a type of bank account where you can save money and earn interest on your deposits. Your money can expand by accumulating interest in a savings account. Savings accounts are best utilized for money you don’t need to access frequently because in the US, in order to discourage customers from using their savings, you risk being fined if you make more than six withdrawals each month.


A money market account is a type of savings account that may offer higher interest rates in exchange for restrictions on withdrawals. In the US, you’re limited to six withdrawals from a money market account each month. This limit exists to keeping the funds in the account so they can be reinvested and grow.

To open a money market account, you will need to make an initial deposit, which varies by bank but is typically around $250. Once your account is opened, you can write checks or make electronic transfers. Money markets typically have higher interest rates than savings accounts and may offer other perks like check-writing privileges and ATM access.


A certificate of deposit, or CD, is a type of investment that secures a large sum of money for a set period of time. It’s also known as a fixed deposit and is the best option for people who want to put away a sizable sum of money for a specific length of time. Depending on the bank, the fixed period’s duration might range from less than one month to more than five years. The sum and interest can be rolled over for another defined time, withdrawn in full, or just the interest at the conclusion of the fixed period.

These frequently provide greater interest rates than savings accounts, but early withdrawal fees may apply, making them best suited for funds you are confident you won’t need access to anytime soon.

To open a CD, you will need to make an initial deposit, which varies by bank but is typically around $500. Once your account is opened, you can make deposits and withdrawals, though there may be restrictions on how often you can do so. CDs typically have higher interest rates than savings accounts and may offer other perks like check-writing privileges and ATM access.


When looking for a bank, consider what type of account you need and what services are important to you. For example, if you plan to use your debit card frequently while traveling, look for a bank that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. If you want to earn interest on your deposits, look for a bank that offers high interest rates. And if you want easy access to your money, look for a bank with a large network of ATMs.

When choosing a bank, be sure to compare the fees, interest rates, and other terms and conditions. Some banks may require a higher minimum balance than others. Others may charge monthly maintenance fees or transaction fees. Be sure to shop around and compare before you choose a bank.


Now that you know how to open a bank account in the United States, it’s time to start looking for the right bank for you. With so many options available, it’s important to compare different banks and find one that meets your needs.  And don’t forget to check with your bank or credit union back home to see if they offer any special deals for customers who are traveling, studying, or living abroad.

When you’re ready to start looking for a bank, use our list of the best banks in America to open an account with as a starting point in your research. Consider what type of account you need — whether it’s a basic checking or savings account or something more specialized like a money market account.

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Oluchi Chukwu

Oluchi is a seasoned Information blogger, content developer and the editor of Nigerian Queries. She is a tech enthusiast who loves reading, writing and research

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