Moving to a new country is daunting. And it’s even more so when you haven’t a clue on where to start. For one, getting your finances in check is one of the most important when relocating to a new country. If you’re thinking about moving to the States, or already are, it’s key to know what the best banks in USA are in order to do your daily transactions, fuss-free. Having a USA bank account will also grant you ease of direct deposits and social security payments.

However, not all banks that offer accounts for expats are suitable for everyone. Some of them may not meet your needs or may even demand high ATM transaction fees. Hence, this list of some of the best banks in the USA will help you make your decision.

What you need to know before opening a USA bank account

According to Forbes, below are important things to note before opening a bank account in the USA for non-citizens and residents.

In most cases, non-citizens and residents will not be able to open your USA bank account online. Instead, you’d need to visit a bank or credit union’s physical branch to do so.

A bank’s general *requirements to open an account may include:

  • Your contact information. (E.g. Name, legal address and phone number.)
  • At least two forms of government-issued ID, such as a valid driver’s licence or passport.
  • A Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) (If you’re a non-citizen and don’t have a Social Security number, you’ll likely need to have an ITIN.)
  • Utility bills with current address.
  • Cash deposit (normally $25 to $100)

*The requirements may vary depending on the state or financial institution.

Do note that while most banks typically accept alternative forms of identification for non-US residents, some strictly accept only Social Security numbers or ITINs. The former is issued by the Social Security Administration while the IRS issues the latter. However, some financial institutions won’t accept an ITIN in place of a Social Security number.

Some may accept an alien registration number card. The seven- to nine-digit alien registration number can be found on various documents – one example being a USA green card issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How to apply for an ITIN

Here are the steps for getting an ITIN:

Banks and Credit unions that accept alternative IDs

There are quite a number of banks in the US accept alternative IDs from a non-US citizen or resident. These include Bank of America, Chase, TD Bank, US Bank and Wells Fargo.

Some credit unions also accept alternative forms of ID. Banks and credit unions affiliated with the Bank On platform, which aim to help low- to moderate-income people open bank accounts, may also accept alternative IDs.

If you are an expat and want to open a bank account in the US, do note that you’ll need to apply to banks and credit unions that accept non-resident/citizens as members. You’d also have to pass the respective standard verification and compliance procedures.

Best banks in USA for expats

1. Citibank

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Available in over 40 countries, all while offering the convenience transactions, Citibank slides smoothly into the list. With many ATM branches worldwide, you won’t find a problem accessing cash in the States with a Citibank card and bank account.

Citibank offers services from its offices around the world, as well as online. The Citi International Personal Account Package, along with the Citigold Interest Checking Account, offers customers wealth management and financial planning services in addition to banking services.

There are some requirements for eligible linked banking, investment and retirement accounts with Citibank. For instance, customers are required to maintain a minimum combined average monthly balance of $200,000. If you meet this requirement, Citibank will not incur any monthly service fee for the account.

The account provides free waivers on plenty of Citibank services and reimbursement of fees charged by other banks for using non-Citi ATMs. Wire transfer fees depend on the type of Citigold account you hold. They can be either waived or reduced.

Citibank offers an annual percentage yield (APY) of 0.51 percent. Upon opening your Citi checking account, you will receive a chip-enabled debit card in the mail from the bank. Remember that this bank does not allow the expats to make more than six transfers per statement period.

2. HSBC

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HSBC is well-known for its international banking facilities for global citizens. The savings accounts with HSBC offer 0.01 to 0.15 percent APY while you get 0.20 to 0.30 percent APY on Certificates of Deposit (CDs).

The minimum balance requirement ranges from $0 to $250,000, with the monthly maintenance fees from $1 to $50.

HSBC allows its consumers to open savings accounts, checking accounts and student accounts.

Upon opening a savings account with HSBC, you will get competitive savings rates, especially when you save more. Interest rates depend on the minimum balance in the account and the type of savings account you wish to open.

For instance, the minimum balance of up to $24,999 in the HSBC Premier Savings account will earn you up to 0.15 percent APY. However, the minimum balance of $15,000 to $49,999 in your HSBC Advance Savings Account will earn you the 0.05 percent APY.

HSBC offers four types of checking accounts:

  • Premier Checking account
  • Advance Checking account
  • Basic Banking account
  • Choice Checking account

Its savings accounts can also be connected to as many checking accounts as you want. You can even connect the accounts and set up automatic transfers among them. Regardless of the number of savings accounts you open, HSBC offers you free personal internet banking facilities.

The best part? You don’t even have to maintain a minimum balance with a Basic Banking account. If you tend to write only a small number of checks per month, the Basic Banking account would be the one for you.

If you travel a lot as a global citizen, you might also find the Global Money Account useful since it lets you convert and transfer your money across eight different currencies.

3. Bank of America

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Global citizens studying in the USA often face difficulty finding the right bank account to meet their needs. The Bank of America is known to be suitable for international students.

The Advantage Plus bank account is a popular option for non-citizens due to its large ATM network throughout the country. Although there is a monthly fee, this can be waived by having at least one qualifying direct deposit of minimally$250, enrolling in the Preferred Rewards programme, or maintaining a minimum daily balance of $1,500. Account holders under 24 years old can also request to get the monthly fee waived.

Bank of America earns you APY from 0.01 to 0.05 percent. However, you are required to keep a minimum balance of $500 to $1,500 daily. Bank of America also requires a monthly maintenance fee from $4.95 to $25.

If you wish to open a savings account in Bank of America, you must deposit $100 to be given access to the mobile check deposits. All you need to do is take pictures of both sides of an endorsed check and deposit the amount into your account.

The bank also gives you the option to opt for receiving alerts through text or email every time you make a transaction into your bank account.

Moreover, Bank of America’s mobile banking app comes with a virtual financial assistant named Erica who will guide you to stay on top of your finances. If you ever lose your debit card, the mobile banking app will allow you to lock the card and request for a digital one.

Overdraft fees incurred on checking accounts reach $35 for every deposit, and the minimum balance obligatory for opening these accounts ranges from $25 to $100.

4. Capital One

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Capital One makes another valuable addition to the best banks for global citizens in the USA. This banking solution offered by Capital One Financial Corp does not require any maintenance fee, foreign transaction fee or ATM fee from its users. You can set up direct deposits for work or Social Security payments. Even when you use your debit card abroad, the bank will not incur any additional fees on your withdrawals.

Its 360 Performance Savings account offers an APY of with no minimum fees or balance, making it a suitable one for expats living in the USA.

Capital One also allows you to deposit a check from anywhere in the USA and its territories through the mobile deposit app. Certain items, however, do not meet the eligibility criteria for this service. These include: checks that are not payable in the USA currency or are not drawn from a financial institution located in the States.

5. Alliant Credit Union

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What is so special about Alliant Credit Union? You get to create a high-interest rate checking account that earns you an APY of 0.25 percent and the best part is there is no minimum balance requirement. You don’t even have to pay any monthly service fee.

Unlike other banks providing financial services, Alliant Credit Union usually passes processing charges on transactions through to customers without markups. Ultimately, expats are charged fees on foreign ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases that constitute 1 percent of the total transaction.

Moreover, Alliant Credit Union also provides an ATM fee rebate of up to $20 every month.

Do note that non-US residents can become members if they have a social security number or an valid ITIN.

6. Chase

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Chase is one of the largest financial institutions in the USA with 16,000 ATMs and 4,900 branches across the country. The perk? New customers may receive a welcome bonus if they meet certain requirements. 

The Chase Total Checking account is most suitable for non-citizens. However, you may need to head to a physical branch to open an account. The bank charges a $12 monthly fee for account holders, but this is waived if the account holder has $1,500 daily minimum balance, $500 in direct deposits monthly or a $5,000 average balance at the start of each day in their linked Chase accounts.

Chase charges $0 at Chase network ATMs, and up to $5 at non-Chase ATMs.

7. Charles Schwab

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The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor checking account is suitable for the avid traveller. Why? Users won’t be charged any ATM transaction fees, even in countries outside of the States. You’ll even be reimbursed for all out-of-network ATM fees. 

The con is: you can’t deposit cash, as Charles Schwab is primarily an investment brokerage. This means you can set up electronic money transfers, direct deposits and checks via mail. To put it simply, this account works better as a secondary account.

Before you open a bank account in the US (or anywhere for that matter), doing your due diligence in research is key. It’s almost important to know what you prioritise when it comes to managing your finances. Do you prefer a bank account with high yield? Do you want an online-only or physical bank? These are just some questions you might want to keep in mind.

Security checks are also important when opening a bank account in the States. Thus, preparing the necessary paperwork beforehand will always be a perk before heading down to any banks or credit unions.

Additional sources are referenced from Forbes and the respective banks mentioned above.

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