Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How To Open A US Bank Account As A Tourist/Non Resident

Opening a bank account in the US as a tourist/non-resident was not as difficult as we'd thought. Sure, we spent a lot of time looking around, searching for the bank that we could open an account with; not all banks in US are able or willing to open an account for tourists or someone without a social security number. 

There are thousands of banks in the US. We searched for a bank that required the least amount of minimum daily balance. Larger banks like Citibank and HSBC were happy to open an account for us, that is.. if we maintain a minimum daily balance of $25,000 and above! 

Needless to say, we did not go with them. We opened an account with Capital One bank (in New York), and then later with TD bank (in Florida). The process to open the accounts were similar.

What You Need: 
  • Be physically present at the bank
  • A passport  
  • An additional photo ID (e.g. driver's license)
  • A US address (we used a friends address)
  • A US phone number (we have a virtual US number with iPlum app) 
  • A recent copy of a bank/credit card statement or utility bill in your home country
  • Some cash to make an initial deposit

What You'll Get:
  • A welcome pack (i.e. paper work -- fee schedule, account maintenance information, etc)
  • A debit card
  • 3 cheques (if you need to pay anyone)
  • Access to online banking

How to open bank account

One difference we noted was that we received the permanent debit card on the spot for TD bank, while Capital One gave us a temporary card and took about a week or two to send us the permanent one (to the US address -- which was not convenient for us).  

We had no issues using these cards at the stores or for online shopping.

Other Things to Note:
  • If you intend to use the card overseas, you'll need to inform the bank so that your card is activated for overseas usage.
  • Get your bank's Routing Number/SWIFT code (you'll need this for online bank transfers).
  • Remember to change your bank statements from paper to online. This saves you $1 per statement cycle (charges may differ for different banks), nothing gets sent to your US address and you'll help save the environment.
  • With a US bank account, you can open a US Paypal account as an option for online payment and fund transfers.

Why We Switched from Capital One to TD bank:
  • Capital One bank has less branches in US than TD bank. 
  • Capital One does not have branches in Florida (which we needed).
  • Read our post '6 Day Break in Florida'. 
  • The minimum balance for Capital One bank is $300 while TD bank is $100.
  • TD Bank has a pretty good online customer service support.
  • TD Bank has a refer-a-friend promotion (having said that, Capital One has it as well but with more T&C).

Last month, I opened a TD convenience checking account {mainly for my Amazon Associates which requires a US bank account}. The next day, Alex who already has an account with Capital One decided to be bank buddies; he figured it'd be easier to transfer funds to each other and also because TD has a lower min. daily balance than Capital One. So he opened the same checking account (referred by me), complied with the requirements for the refer-a-friend promo (see below) and within a month, we both got $25! :)

To get this, you'll need to know someone with a
TD bank account. If you're interested we'll be happy to share more on this with you. Just drop us a note.

Then, you simply need to either receive a direct debit or make 15 transactions on your debit card within 60 days of opening the account (which is easy to do). That's it!

Hope this helps. If you have any experience with opening a US bank account as a tourist/non-resident, we'd love to hear about it.

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