Things you need to open a bank account
- SSN (you can use your temporary SSN , most likely you will not have a permanent SSN when you open an account. Make sure you go to the bank and update your SSN when you get a permanent number though.)
- Address and Phone Number (You can give the address and phone numbers of your temporary accommodation. You should go to the bank and update this information once you move in to your own apartment/house).
A few things to keep in mind when opening a bank account
Find out if is there a minimum amount of money you need to maintain in your account at all times. Most banks allow you to have zero balance these days. However, if your bank has a minimum balance requirement, keep that in mind and make sure you don’t go below that minimum amount otherwise you may have to pay hefty fees.
Find out if there is a monthly service fee for having an account with that bank. Most banks do not require such service fee these days. In some cases, certian accounts do not require a monthly service fee, but charge for any kind of personal teller services you may use. In my experience, you rarely need any kind of teller service. Most of the transactions can be done either at the ATM or online. If your bank has a monthly service fee, you may just want to check out another bank before you finally decide to open an account.
Almost all banks give a Debit card when you open a checking account (they may call it Check card, but basically it is a Debit card). Make sure there is no charge for having a debit card. If there is any, you may want to check out a different bank before you decide to open an account. This debit card can be used to withdraw money from ATMs and also purchase stuff.
Find out the locations of ATMs across the town. Local banks usually have several ATMs located in and around the campus. If your bank does not have many ATM locations in town, you may end up paying a small fee every time you use a different ATM to withdraw cash. So it might be a good idea to pick a bank that has ATMs that are easily accessible for you.
With each checking account, you get a bunch of checks. Usually they are printed in boxes of 200 checks. Find out if there is a fee for them. A few banks give them away free for the first time and the first box of 200 checks should last you at least for a few years. Checks have your name and address printed on them. If you do not have a permanent address, ask your bank to wait until you get one and then get the checks printed out.
Two types of accounts are of interest to you:
Checking account and Savings account.
You must open at least a Checking account. This is where your pay check will be deposited and this the account you will be using regularly to withdraw cash and use it for your day-to-day expenses. A lot of people just open a checking account. Checking accounts don’t accrue any interest on the money that is deposited in them, only Savings account pays interest. The reason people don’t have only savings account is not because they don’t like interests but because savings account allows only a limited number of transactions every month. The allowed number of transactions may not be sufficient to pay bills, withdraw money whenever you want, etc. A few months into your stay here, you can do some research on different banks and the amount of interest that they pay and choose a bank that suits your needs to open a savings account.