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Expat Banking in New York: What Do I Need?

International banking can be stressful, but as an expat it is unavoidable. Expats setting up their exciting new life in the New York will want to open a bank account to deposit their salaries – or just take a trip down to the supermarket for groceries.

Before you open your new bank account, you need to choose which bank suits your needs. Proper planning will help ease stress so you can start to get excited about your upcoming adventure in New York City.

Where to Begin

After moving to New York from abroad, you will discover that banking in the United States is much different than what you’re used to. Paper checks are still used frequently, online banking can seem archaic, and as an expat you will surely encounter difficulties.

Big banks in New York include Chase, CitiBank, Bank of America, and HSBC. There are many different types of bank accounts in the United States, but you’ll most likely only desire opening a checking account and a savings account.

A “checking” account is the primary account you will open at a bank in the U.S. (which is often called a “current” account abroad). With a checking account, you will get some physical checks as well as a debit card with a PIN. A savings account is usually offered to you at the time you open your checking account but it’s important to keep in mind that interest rates for savings accounts are incredibly low.

What Do You Need for a Bank Account?

  • A New York address. In order to prove this, a residential agreement that is signed, dated, and includes the full contact details for the landlord will need to be provided
  • If you cannot provide a residential agreement, a letter from your employer that is signed and dated, with your full name, phone number, current address, and your employment situation is acceptable
  • A valid passport with visa

Transferring Money

If you don’t use your bank accounts to transfer money from abroad to the United States, there are other options available to assist you with transfers, such as Transferwise or PayPal.

Transferwise is an extremely popular platform for international transfers and is easy-to-use with some of the most affordable rates around. Another well-known platform to send money is PayPal, but sometimes the fees can be high.

Sending money to your friends in New York is easy and fun. For transfers between friends, Venmo is widely used in the United States and doesn’t have any fees!

Final Thoughts

When researching the banking system and banking options, take time to ensure you’re picking the right bank for you. Making a checklist that includes information about local banks is a great way to prepare and evaluate your options.

While learning the best methods of getting to your money before arriving in New York may seem daunting, preparing ahead of time will eliminate challenges so you can live your best life in the city.

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