Whether you are an international student, expat or are an undocumented immigrant, getting a bank account may make your life in the US easier. There are many benefits non-US citizens can receive when opening a US bank account and while it may look unattainable to get one without a Social Security Number — it is possible. This guide will help you make your choice among the best bank accounts available for non-citizens.

Benefits of Opening a Bank Account as a Non-US Citizen

The biggest benefit for non-US citizens who decide to open a bank account is an easier way to manage their money such as paying bills or receiving direct online payments. Other benefits include:

  • Lower fees. If you do not have a personal checking account, you'll have to use check-cashing services or prepaid debit cards to access your money. It will also be difficult to access ATMs without incurring high conversion fees. With a bank account, these extra steps and extra fees could be eliminated.
  • Extra Protection. A checking or savings account are the safest places to store your money. Some banks and credit unions offer federal deposit insurance for up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, per ownership category. Having your money in the bank will allow you to work with bankers and specialists in case of emergencies or questions.
  • Building Financial History. Opening a bank account can be the first step in establishing a good banking history. This can make buying cars or homes in the future more attainable. You will also be able to open accounts such as a high-yield savings account, where you can save your money for emergencies and build wealth overtime.
  • Leverage the Stability of a US Dollar. Having a US-based bank account can ensure your funds are safe against market fluctuations. Non-US citizens and immigrants can avoid volatility and hyperinflation seen in other countries' currencies. Handling your money with a US bank account can eliminate foreign exchange fees.

Challenges for Non-US Citizens When Trying to Open a Bank Account

Most bank accounts require people to have a legal status which can be a challenge for non-US citizens or undocumented immigrants who want to open a bank account. A visa or green card aren't typically required but can be useful for some banks. Non-US citizens or immigrants without a legal status may need to go through a few more steps when opening an account such as submitting extra required documentation, alternative forms of ID, or in some cases an interview. However, there are ways to work around it and getting a bank account is possible despite the challenges.

Banks that Accept Alternative Forms of ID

To open a bank account, you must submit the required documentation, such as proof of identification, address, income etc. Most banks offer alternative forms of ID to make bank accounts accessible for non-US citizens and immigrants. Here is a list of the best bank accounts that are accessible to non-US citizens.

Bank of America

Accessibility: To open a bank account, you need to have two forms of identification with photos. For example, for your primary ID, you can use a Canadian Citizenship Certificate Card, Foreign passport, Mexican Consular ID, Dominican Republic Consular ID, Colombian Consular ID, or Guatemalan Consular ID. For the second, you can use any other kind of ID mentioned above or a credit card from a major financial institution or retail company, debit card from a financial institution, foreign driver's license, Mexican Voter Registration Card, U.S. Department of State Diplomat ID, or U.S. issued employment ID.

Fees: A $8 monthly service fee and a minimum deposit of $100.

Account features: You'll have access to 3,900 branches throughout the US. New accounts have monthly fee waived for the first 6 months and there are multiple ways to waive monthly fee after the first 6 months. This bank account has no excess withdrawal fee if your balance is at least $20,000, or if you're a Preferred Rewards customer.

Wells Fargo

Accessibility: At Wells Fargo all you need is two forms of identification any of the following can be used: a permanent resident card, foreign visa, foreign passport, or Individual Taxpayer Identification (ITIN) number.

Fees: A $5 monthly service fee that can be waived if you maintain a $300 daily balance or set up automatic savings options. A minimum deposit of $25 is required to open it.

Account features: You'll have access to 4,900 branch locations across the US and 12,000 ATMs. Interest is compounded daily and paid monthly. Your bank account will also be FDIC insured.

US Bank

Accessibility: US Bank allows you to use a consular ID as a valid form of identification.

Fees: A $6.95 monthly service fee (with several ways to waive it) and a $25 minimum deposit.

Account features: There are over 2,000 locations throughout the US and a large ATM network. You'll also get a $50 overdrawn available balance safety threshold and could be part of the Overdraft Fee Forgiven program.


Accessibility: Chase allows you to use different kinds of identification with photo such as, a driver's license with photo, a consular card, a passport with photo, a student ID with photo or a US Employment Authorization Card with photo.

Fees: A $12 monthly service fee or it can be waived with election deposits are made of $500 or more or a daily balance of $1,500.

Account features: You'll have access to more than 15,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches. Access to Chase Overdraft Assist where no overdraft fee if you're overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the business day, or if you're overdrawn by more than $50 and bring your account balance to overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the next business day. You're also part of the Zero Liability Protection to get reimbursed for unauthorized debit card transactions when reported promptly with Zero Liability Protection.


Accessibility: CitiBank allows you to open an account with alternative forms of ID for example an ITIN number instead of a SSN.

Fees: Depending on the type of checking account you can have a $5 monthly service fee or a $15 monthly service fee.

Account features: No overdraft or returned item fee, mobile check deposits, seamless money movement via Zelle and access to more than 65,000 fee-free ATMs.

Bottom Line

While a bank's traditional identification requirements may post a challenge to non-US citizens and immigrants when trying to open a bank account, it is still possible. Using a bank that allows for alternative forms of ID can make the first step to achieving financial security achievable.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.