There are many banking options in the U.S., and each student or scholar will have different priorities for and expectations of their banking experience. While we do not recommend a particular banking institution, we have provided information below that might help you navigate the process of establishing and managing a U.S. bank account.
If you will be paid by the University, you must have a bank account in the U.S. to receive payment via direct deposit.
Opening a bank account
In order to open a local bank account, you will need the following:
- valid passport
- Form I-20 form [F-1 students] or Form DS-2019 [J-1 students & scholars]
- a copy of your most recent I-94 record
- proof of US residential address (signed lease agreement, utility bill, housing notice from Res Life)
- ND enrollment or employment verification
- Money to deposit
*You do not need a Social Security Number to open a bank account. Generally you will complete a W-8BEN, which is a statement of foreign residence that takes the place of the SSN. Most students open a checking and a savings account.
If you do not have a car, there are a few banking institutions within a 15 minute walk of the University, including:
- 1st Source Bank (on campus, lower level of LaFortune Student Center)
- Chase Bank (east of campus, by Martin's Grocery Store)
- Notre Dame Federal Credit Union (north of campus)
- Old National Bank (south of campus, in Eddy St Commons)
You can find a more robust list of local banks here.
Questions to ask about a banking institution before setting up an account:
- What is the minimum required balance to avoid fees?
- What is the overdraft policy and fees?
- What other fees are assessed (e.g. branch visits, checks written, ATM withdrawals, online banking, wire transfers, etc)
- Are there any fees on a dormant account?
- What are the international incoming wire fees and how long does it take to receive money once it's transferred?
- Is it important to you to have a national bank? Or a regional bank?
- Is there a special offer because of your affiliation with Notre Dame?
*Most banks advise that it is cheaper to organize wire transfers through a non-banking service, like Western Union, but it is good to understand your options for transferring funds to and from overseas.
ATMS on Campus
It's important to remember that when using an ATM from a bank that is not yours, you may be charged fees by the ATM and your home bank. A list of ATMS on campus can be found here.
Important note: Not all U.S. banks accept foreign debit cards.
Banks and Credit Unions
Both banks and credit unions allow you to open checking and savings accounts, but fees and interest rates vary depend on the institution you choose. Both are insured by the U.S. government.
Banks are for profit. Credit unions are non-profit organizations and you must become a member. It may be a good idea to ask your bank in your home country to see if they have a partnership with any local banks.
Using credit and debit cards is most common in the U.S. Sometimes it can be difficult to get a credit card if you do not have a credit history in the U.S. You can establish good credit by having a bank account and by paying your bills on time. Once you have a card, and have established a good history with that card, you can look for a better card and rate.
You will likely need a social security number to apply for a credit card.
Interest rates can be very high on credit cards (sometimes over 22%) so use them with caution. It's important to understand the interest rate on the credit card, but also whether it fluctuates over time. Sometimes there will be a minimum purchase amount in order to use your credit card.
Remember: if you do not pay your credit card on time, the cost of your purchases increases with interest. It's important to make timely payments on your credit card bill.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted card types. Most banks offer a credit card option.
A money order is a pre-paid amount of money that is guaranteed by a third party. They can be purchased at your U.S. bank, the U.S. post office, Walmart, or Western Union, and they can be used to pay rent and other bills.