When you first arrive in the U.S., opening a bank account should be one of your first moves as you get settled. As a non-resident, you may wonder what banking services are available to you, if at all. 

The good news is that there are plenty of banks in the United States that offer access to non-residents. There may be a few more hurdles to go through than at home, but you can navigate them with a little preparation. And some new banks even cater directly to immigrants and multinationals, such as Passbook, making the process easier for you. 

Read on for all the details you need on choosing a bank in the U.S. and opening an account as a non-resident of the country.

Let’s look at some popular banks for non-residents, including what you need to consider before opening an account. 

Best Banks for Non Residents

Note: this list is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be exhaustive. It is not a substitute for professional or specialist advice.

Passbook by Remitly

  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Initial minimum deposit: none
  • ATM fee: none
  • Overdraft fee: $0
  • Debit card foreign transaction fee: none
  • FDIC insured: yes

Passbook is the latest creation from Remitly, and is special because it’s an account designed for non-residents. There are no monthly fees or initial deposit requirements, and you can use your debit card with Apple Pay® or Google Pay™. You can even choose your flag on your debit card.

One plus: using your Passbook card abroad won’t incur any foreign transaction fees. 

Account holders can deposit cash at major retailers such as CVS Pharmacy, Kmart, Walmart and Walgreens — that’s at over 90,000 retail stores. Plus, you don’t need a SSN to open an account. Passbook lets applicants use other types of documentation such as a passport to verify their identity. 

Currently, invitations are being sent to their waitlist, and it takes less than 10 minutes to sign up for an account. 

Chase Total Checking®

  • Monthly fee: $12 (or $0 if you meet certain requirements)
  • Initial minimum deposit: $0
  • ATM fee: $0 at Chase network ATMs; $2.50 to $5 at a non-Chase ATM plus any additional fees from the ATM operator
  • Overdraft fee: $34 (maximum three times per day)
  • Debit card foreign transaction fee: 3%
  • FDIC insured: yes

Chase is one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. with 16,000 ATMs and 4,900 branches throughout the country. One draw to opening this bank account is that new customers can receive a welcome bonus once they meet certain requirements. 

Currently, Chase is offering new customers $300 once they set up direct deposits to their Chase Total Checking® account. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you may need to head to a physical branch to open an account, but you should still be able to qualify for the bonus. 

Although there is a $12 monthly fee, account holders can get that waived by having a $1,500 daily minimum balance, $500 in direct deposits each month, or a $5,000 average beginning day balance in linked Chase accounts. 

latina immigrant woman looking at her phone to do her finances

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account

  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Initial minimum deposit: $0
  • ATM fee: $0 (customers will also get reimbursed for ATM fees outside the network)
  • Overdraft fee: $0
  • Debit card foreign transaction fee: none
  • FDIC insured: yes

This checking account is a fine choice for those who travel often. You won’t be charged any ATM fees, even if you’re in a country outside the U.S. Plus, you’ll be reimbursed for all out-of-network ATM fees. 

The downside is that you can’t deposit cash, since Charles Schwab is primarily an investment brokerage. That means you can set up electronic money transfers, direct deposits, and checks via mail. In other words, this account is better suited as a secondary account.

To apply, you’ll need to show up in person to fill out an application form. You also must open a brokerage account with Charles Schwab, but there’s no requirement saying you need to fund it. 

Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking®

  • Monthly fee: $12 (or $0 if you meet certain requirements)
  • ATM fee: $2.50 for out-of-network ATMs in the U.S.; $5 for ATMs outside of the U.S. 
  • Overdraft fee: $35 per item
  • Debit card foreign transaction fee: 3%
  • FDIC insured: yes

The Advantage Plus bank account is a popular option because of its large ATM network and physical branches throughout the U.S. Account holders can use the mobile banking app to check transactions, make deposits, and more. 

Although there is a monthly fee, you can get that waived by having at least one qualifying direct deposit of a minimum of $250, enrolling in the Preferred Rewards program, or maintaining a minimum daily balance of $1,500.

Account holders under 24 years old can also ask to get the monthly fee waived.

What Non-Residents Should Consider in a Bank Account

Before opening a bank account in the U.S., it’s a good idea to compare features and the fees you’ll pay.

That way, you can open a bank account that’s suited to your individual needs and one where you’ll pay for features you’ll use.

Here are some features you’ll want to consider:

  • Monthly fee – sometimes referred to as a maintenance fee, some bank accounts will charge you each month. Sometimes, you can waive this fee if you meet certain requirements such as meeting a minimum balance requirement or having direct deposits go into the account. There are plenty of bank accounts for non-residents that don’t charge a monthly maintenance fee, so do a search, especially if you don’t think you can meet the monthly requirements.
  • Minimum opening deposit requirement – Banks may require you to deposit a certain amount upon account opening. This initial amount may be small — say, under $100 USD —  but there are also plenty that don’t require one. Higher initial deposit requirements may apply to certain accounts, like money market or business bank accounts. 
  • ATM fees – Checking accounts and some savings accounts come with an ATM or debit card, which you can use to make deposits or withdrawals at ATMs. While many banks don’t charge a fee to use machines in their network, you may be charged if you use a third-party network or one run by a different financial institution. If you intend on using ATMs often, look for a bank that has a large ATM network or one that reimburses fees.
  • Foreign transaction fees – You may be charged a fee for debit card transactions outside the U.S. This amount is often a percentage of the amount you spent or withdrew from a foreign ATM. 
  • Overdraft feesThis fee will kick in if a purchase or withdrawal brings your bank account balance to less than zero. If the bank approves the transaction, you’ll be charged a fee. Some banks let you opt into overdraft protection, which usually means transferring the money from a linked savings account to your checking account so you don’t overdraft.
  • FDIC insurance – FDIC stands for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). This organization, which is part of the U.S. federal government, guarantees the money you have on deposit at an FDIC-insured account will be there. They insure your cash for up to $250,000 USD per ownership category (type of account), per depositor (that’s you).

What about APY?

Other considerations include the interest, or annual percentage yield (APY) that a bank account offers.

While the APY is helpful in figuring out how much interest you may earn, this percentage may fluctuate. Not all bank accounts offer interest (such as many checking accounts), but it’s a factor worth considering if you intend on keeping large sums of money in your account.

When comparing APYs, check to see what the requirements are and whether you meet them. Sometimes banks won’t let you earn interest on deposits above a certain amount, for instance. 

the best banks for non-residents will have good apps, like the one this african immigrant is using

What Information Do Non-Residents Need to Open a Bank Account?

As a non-resident, you can open a bank account using one or more of the following forms of identification:

  • An alien identification or passport number
  • A government-issued identification from a foreign country
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (more on this below)

You’ll also need to provide personal details such as your name, birth date, and proof of physical address in the U.S. That’s because the law requires U.S. financial institutions to be able to trace their customers’ transactions.

This information is used to verify your identity when opening a new bank account. 

Is it Possible For Non-Residents to Open an Online Bank Account?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that you can, though it’ll depend on the bank and the information you can provide.

Many online banks verify your information using a SSN, and many non-residents aren’t eligible for one. That means it’ll be hard for you to open a bank account online in the U.S. if you only have a passport, Permanent Resident Card, INS Employment Card, Non-Immigrant Visa or a Border Crossing Card.

In other words, application forms for online bank accounts usually don’t have a place for applicants to input their foreign ID number. 

For this reason, most non-residents have better luck going to a larger bank with physical locations. That’s because you can walk into a branch, show your passport or other relevant documents, and open an account.

Even if you can start your application online with one of these banks, you may be required to complete it in person. 

That being said, many banks allow non-residents to apply for a bank account using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN. This is a processing number that the IRS issues to qualifying non-residents who aren’t eligible for an SSN.

Ask around to see if a particular bank allows you to open an account online with an ITIN if you’re unable or prefer not to head to a physical branch — most of the best banks for non-residents will let you do so.

How Do Non-Residents Send Money Home?

Sending money home as a U.S. non-resident need not be difficult. 

International transfer companies like Remitly offer multiple ways for non-residents to send money home and, in some cases, faster than it would be with international bank transfers. These companies understand the importance of sending money to your loved ones. 

Find out more at the homepage or download the app today.

 

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topics discussed herein. This publication is not a substitute for seeking advice from an applicable specialist or professional. The content in this publication does not constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice from Remitly or any of its affiliates and should not be relied upon as such. While we strive to keep our posts up to date and accurate, we cannot represent, warrant or otherwise guarantee that the content is accurate, complete or up to date.

Related Posts