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Old 25th November 2012, 09:43 PM
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US Bank Account

Have a friend going to the US soon and wondering what the process is to create a bank account. Hoping that some of you might be able to help out on a few questions:
- What documentation is required for an overseas person to create a bank account?
- Are there any banks which are known to have accounts which do not have account keeping fees? In Australia there are banks which are known to have less ongoing fees, so I was wondering whether the same applied in the US.
- For a US transaction account, is it easy to initiate an overseas transfer of funds, and will the fees be substantial to initiate such transactions?
- More broadly, are there any banks that you recommend, or ones that have bad reps?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 25th November 2012, 09:55 PM
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Re: US Bank Account

He'll likely need either a permanent address, tax-id or social security number to open an account.

See here. Good discussion on the subject: http://www.linkedin.com/answers/busi.../891476-568909
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Old 26th November 2012, 12:30 AM
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Re: US Bank Account

Transfers are easy peasy. At least with one account being USD, the banks don't double-dip on forex fees. (fuckers).
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Old 26th November 2012, 01:20 AM
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Re: US Bank Account

Hmm. That sounds rather restrictive. I'm assuming using the address of a friend in US is insufficient and that you would require a utility bill etc showing a US address?

Nevertheless he doesn't have a social security number or a tax ID so creating an account is probably not possible.
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Old 26th November 2012, 02:04 AM
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Re: US Bank Account

- Your friend needs a Social Security Number (Personal tax ID). But even tourists can get a version of it so it should be easy to get one as long he/she is legal. I'd say your friend needs to go there first though, it should not be possible to do it in advance.
- Account fees are a given for any bank. It should be minimal, in the order of $10/month. If you keep a minimum balance (depends on the bank or account type, usually $5000-$10000 range) they waive it.
- Sending from US is fixed price (typically $45) no matter what the amount is. But the receiving bank usually charges also and the American bank won't tell how much that portion is, because they won't know. It is possible that the receiving bank in other countries charges more if the amount is more. Best to ask before sending.
- I don't think the bank name matters much, but it is more convenient if it has branches nationwide like Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America etc.

Oh and if you send more than $10K at a time, I am told it is reported to the US government, if it matters.
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Old 26th November 2012, 03:30 AM
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Re: US Bank Account

I think the $10K thing is pretty much universal. Not sure if it came out of 9/11 or was in place before that, but any international bank I have dealt with puts a "marker" on transfers of $10K or more.
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Old 26th November 2012, 11:19 AM
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Re: US Bank Account

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Originally Posted by dnnames View Post
Hmm. That sounds rather restrictive. I'm assuming using the address of a friend in US is insufficient and that you would require a utility bill etc showing a US address?

Nevertheless he doesn't have a social security number or a tax ID so creating an account is probably not possible.
Blame Bin Ladin.

In the UK before 9/11, all you needed was a pound in your pocket.

Getting things done afterwards was a nightmare, even if you genuinely lived and had the right to work in the UK. Each organisation made up rules to protect itself but the combined effect was an impenetrable barrier.

ID was a Gordian Knot because to get one piece of ID, you needed to supply at least two, and nothing foreign counted.

I finally managed to break things by transferring the TV licence into Lenka's name, as they funnily enough did not require anything.

Another possibility was to exchange driving licence for UK licence, but no good to Lenka because she did not drive, although applying for a Provisional Licence might work.
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Old 26th November 2012, 12:35 PM
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Re: US Bank Account

Bin Ladin Schmardin, it was just a way to impose checks on everyone with some money - like crooks can't organise a false ID
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Old 26th November 2012, 02:47 PM
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Re: US Bank Account

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Bin Ladin Schmardin, it was just a way to impose checks on everyone with some money - like crooks can't organise a false ID
Either way it was a huge loss of civil liberties, and some vested interests made a fortune out of computer systems and body scanners which we didn't need and in some cases cannot be used.
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Old 26th November 2012, 04:33 PM
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Re: US Bank Account

The easiest bank to open a US account for any legal non resident US visitor with no social security number needed is Bank of America. All you need is a passport and a local address, you could rent either a po box address or use a friend's address. You need to tell them that you would like to open a non-resident e-banking account. If you open a checking and a saving account with them, you could set up a free automatic transfer from savings to checking of $25 back and forth each month and there won't be any monthly maintenance fee as long as you do all your transactions online or via ATMs with no human contact. Hope that helps. Cheers!
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Old 26th November 2012, 04:42 PM
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Re: US Bank Account

By the way, when you need to get your money out of the US bank and transfer it overseas, the cheapest way I know of is to do a free ACH transfer using the likes of xe.com to transfer the money to you at a very negotiable and competitive exchange rate. For larger amounts, you could use Oanda which offers very close to the interbank mid-rate. For extra large sum, you could trade the exchange yourself using Interactive Broker at the spot rate.
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Old 26th November 2012, 08:04 PM
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Re: US Bank Account

Thanks everybody for the help! Much appreciated. I think I'll go inquire about Bank of America as it sounds like the only viable option.
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Old 26th November 2012, 08:29 PM
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Re: US Bank Account

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Thanks everybody for the help! Much appreciated. I think I'll go inquire about Bank of America as it sounds like the only viable option.
The best option is not Bank of America, but a small, reputable local bank where you get real customer service and have someone you can call to deal with.

Regulations for opening accounts are standard for everywhere. Customer service quality, however, varies.

Last edited by blastfromthepast; 26th November 2012 at 08:31 PM..
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Old 26th November 2012, 09:55 PM
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Re: US Bank Account

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Originally Posted by blastfromthepast View Post
The best option is not Bank of America, but a small, reputable local bank where you get real customer service and have someone you can call to deal with.

Regulations for opening accounts are standard for everywhere. Customer service quality, however, varies.
Agree that Bank of America doesn't have the best customer service but for small/medium size transactions, it's not a bad option (you can still call their call center free of charge) plus it's national and can be managed online and when there are issues, the op could possibly contact BOA in Australia (if there is one) to help coordinate with the US branch. Some small reputable local banks could provide better customer service but they may or may not have online banking features which may be important for the op if managing the account remotely from Australia is important. Other options range from credit unions (some can be managed online) to Chase bank which provides excellent customer service and has a dedicated call center for non-resident US account holders but would require about $2,500 minimum balance to be maintained monthly to avoid the monthly fee. Op, See which works better for your need. If you choose to go with BOA, try have your friend go to the branch/location that has a lot of immigrants/visitors either in major US cities or a location close to either the Mexican or Canadian border. I am sure locations outside of these area can make it work for your friend as well, but if they are not familiar with this, it may require a bit more work to get them to get instructions on how how to go about opening the non-resident account for your friend.

Blast- By the way regulation for opening accounts are the same but bank policies are different and many of the US banks do not open accounts to people with no social security numbers and/or permanent residency or US citizenship.

Last edited by TrafficDomainer; 26th November 2012 at 10:12 PM..
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Old 26th November 2012, 10:55 PM
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Re: US Bank Account

Thanks very much TrafficDomainer. Appreciate you sharing the knowledge/insight. For Chase, would they also enable people without a social security number or US Citizenship to create an account with them? I guess like you said, it doesn't matter too much if BOA has less than ideal customer service, as long as their online systems are functioning as they should. However, my friend intends to have more than $2500 in the account, so wouldn't have a problem creating an account at Chase.
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Old 26th November 2012, 11:58 PM
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Re: US Bank Account

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Originally Posted by TrafficDomainer View Post
Blast- By the way regulation for opening accounts are the same but bank policies are different and many of the US banks do not open accounts to people with no social security numbers and/or permanent residency or US citizenship.
I'm familiar with banks around Cambridge, MA where everyone expects a lot of foreign students, so banks welcome them with open arms, so I've never heard of anyone having any problems. In fact, many banks semi-officially open accounts for visitors, which they then confirm when they arrive and show their IDs.

Small bank fees range from $5-$10 / month, sometimes $0, depending on bank and amount deposited. Larger banks have higher fees. Several banks have free accounts with no monthly fees, with no minimum balance. Almost all have online banking.

CitiBank is another one which has a big international presence. But a CitiBank in Moscow will not offer customer service for an account in New York.

Last edited by blastfromthepast; 27th November 2012 at 12:08 AM..
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Old 27th November 2012, 12:06 AM
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Re: US Bank Account

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Originally Posted by dnnames View Post
Thanks very much TrafficDomainer. Appreciate you sharing the knowledge/insight. For Chase, would they also enable people without a social security number or US Citizenship to create an account with them? I guess like you said, it doesn't matter too much if BOA has less than ideal customer service, as long as their online systems are functioning as they should. However, my friend intends to have more than $2500 in the account, so wouldn't have a problem creating an account at Chase.
If you always keep a minimum of $2500, you should be able to avoid monthly fees at most banks.

In that case, however, you'd might better off opening a brokerage account at an online broker, you'd still get access to online services, but will better options.
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Old 27th November 2012, 12:16 AM
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Re: US Bank Account

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Originally Posted by blastfromthepast View Post
I'm familiar with banks around Cambridge, MA where everyone expects a lot of foreign students, so banks welcome them with open arms, so I've never heard of anyone having any problems. In fact, many banks semi-officially open accounts for visitors, which they then confirm when they arrive and show their IDs.

Small bank fees range from $5-$10 / month, sometimes $0, depending on bank and amount deposited. Larger banks have higher fees. Several banks have free accounts with no monthly fees, with no minimum balance. Almost all have online banking.

CitiBank is another one which has a big international presence. But a CitiBank in Moscow will not offer customer service for an account in New York.
Good to know that banks around Cambridge are still easy for visitors. My experience is that post 9-11 many banks require social security numbers to open bank accounts. Foreign students can apply for social security numbers but the US Social Security Administration normally no longer approves social security numbers for short term visitors. I think the requirement of ssn is YMMV thing.
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Old 27th November 2012, 12:20 AM
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Re: US Bank Account

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Originally Posted by dnnames View Post
Thanks very much TrafficDomainer. Appreciate you sharing the knowledge/insight. For Chase, would they also enable people without a social security number or US Citizenship to create an account with them? I guess like you said, it doesn't matter too much if BOA has less than ideal customer service, as long as their online systems are functioning as they should. However, my friend intends to have more than $2500 in the account, so wouldn't have a problem creating an account at Chase.
Yes Chase does allow non residents with no social security to open bank accounts and depending on the states you open your account in, the minimum balance requirement to avoid monthly fees would range from around $1,500 to $2,500. They in fact have a dedicated call center for such account holders and from my experience, their service is excellent.

Last edited by TrafficDomainer; 27th November 2012 at 12:29 AM..
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Old 27th November 2012, 12:24 AM
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Re: US Bank Account

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Originally Posted by blastfromthepast View Post
If you always keep a minimum of $2500, you should be able to avoid monthly fees at most banks.

In that case, however, you'd might better off opening a brokerage account at an online broker, you'd still get access to online services, but will better options.

Intersting. Which are some of the reputable online brokers that open US brokerage accounts for non-US residents with no social security numbers that you would recommend? What are some of the the extra options that you could do with this account? TIA

Last edited by TrafficDomainer; 27th November 2012 at 12:39 AM..
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