You can open a U.S. bank account with cash (in U.S. dollars), a check, or an international draft/money order. For your safety, we recommend that you use non-cash options, such as a money order or travelers checks. Travelers checks can be used like cash but are coded so that if your checks are lost or stolen you will be able to cancel them and get a refund.
If you enter the United States with more than $100,000 or equivalent in foreign currency, you will have to report to customs upon arrival. Usually, the process should not be difficult, and the customs officers will simply confirm your reasons for bringing that amount of money. If you do not want to carry large amounts of money with you, another option is to bring enough money to open a bank account and then transfer money from your home bank to the new bank account.
If you are using an international bank such as Citibank, you may be able to transfer funds between your home country and U.S. bank accounts. However, if the bank you use does not offer this service or does not have a branch in Chicago and you open a U.S. account under a different bank, you will need to first transfer adequate funds to a family member or friend’s account prior to departure. After arriving in the U.S. and creating a bank account, the bank will give you the information necessary for transferring funds, such as your bank account number and Swift code. You can then have your family member/friend wire the money to you with this information. For more information please visit UChicago's International Affairs.
Opening an Account
In order to open an account, simply go to the bank, or apply online. You will most likely need two forms of identification, such as your passport and birth certificate. Also, if you are a student, you should bring proof, such as your student I.D. or your admissions letter. You will also need to fill out several forms and have either cash or a check (or an international draft or money order) to deposit in the account.
Usually, the bank provides a pack of starter checks and a debit card, which you can use immediately while waiting for customized checks to arrive. Some banks will come to campus during Orientation Week to help students open accounts. Some banks will not allow a new customer to open an account without a Social Security Number, but for many, it is not necessary. There is only one bank located on campus, Citibank, at 5812 South Ellis Avenue, next to the bookstore. Maroon Financial Credit Union, across from Ratner, also offers banking services.
Maroon Financial Credit Union
Maroon Financial Credit Union is located on the southeast corner of the 55th and Ellis garage, 5525C S. Ellis Ave. International Postdocs should bring the following documents to open an account:
- $25 in cash to open a checking account
- $5 in cash to open a savings account
Citi Bank is located at 5812 S. Ellis Ave. Please ask for Esdras Trevino for assistance. If Esdras Trevino is not available, please ask to speak with a personal banker. International Postdocs should bring the following documents to open an account:
- Lease agreement of SEVIS confirmation of payment of the Department of Homeland Security receipt