Opening a bank account in the US from Australia
Your simple guide to opening a US bank account, whether you have a US address or not.
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If you're moving to the States, opening a US bank account is an important part of the relocation process. However, for foreign citizens, opening a bank account in the US can be a challenging process.
We'll explain what your options are, whether you can open a US account at major banks (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi and Wells Fargo) and other alternatives that may better suit your needs.
What are my options for opening an account?
You'll need to provide proof of your US address in order to choose this option, which can be quite difficult if you're yet to move to the US or you've only recently arrived.
These accounts are designed for people who don't have an address in the US yet. However, you'll need a large deposit to open an account.
Multi-currency accounts are available to people who don't have a US address and can be used to hold USD, AUD and other currencies.
Open a multi-currency account with Wise
Wise is an international account for 50+ currencies with fast money transfers, a muti-currency debit card and bank details for 30 different countries to make payments easy.
- Government regulated
- Supports 50+ currencies
- Uses the mid-market rate
1. Setting up a bank account if you have a US address
The requirements for setting up a US bank account vary from one state to the next, so you'll need to research how to open an account in the part of the country you're moving to.
However, you'll generally need to provide:
- Proof of ID, such as your passport or driver's licence
- Your social security number
- Proof of your US address
- Immigration forms
If you've only recently arrived in the US, you may find it difficult to provide all the documents needed to open an account.
2. Setting up an international bank account
If you don't have a US address, the next option you might want to consider is opening an international bank account. Many major US banks will allow you to set up an international bank account, but they're not a suitable choice for everyone. Typically, you'll need to make a large initial deposit and satisfy income requirements in order to open an account.
Let's take a look at whether you can open an international bank account with the four largest banks in the US:
JPMorgan Chase is the largest bank in the US and Chase is its retail banking arm. Unfortunately, it's not possible to open an account with Chase from overseas, so you'll need to wait until you arrive in the US and have a US address.
Bank of America
Bank of America doesn't allow you to open an account from outside the US. Once again, you'll need to have a US address and a social security number if you want to apply for an account, so visiting a branch once you arrive in the US is your best bet.
As an international bank with branches in Australia, the US and many other countries around the world, Citibank can help you enjoy a smooth transition to the US. If you already have a Citibank account, you can contact the bank to find out what solutions are available for managing your money overseas.
If you're not yet a Citibank customer, it's worth visiting your local Citibank branch to find out whether it's possible to open a US account before you leave Australia.
Unfortunately, you can't open an account with Wells Fargo from outside the US. However, once you've arrived in the US and have the necessary documentation, you can apply for a Wells Fargo account online, over the phone or by visiting a branch.
3. Multi-currency accounts
Multi-currency accounts, which are sometimes also referred to as foreign currency accounts, let you hold multiple currencies in the one account. They make it easy to send and receive payments in a foreign currency, such as USD, and it's possible to open an account online.
Multi-currency accounts are available from major Australian and international banks, with options including the Citi Global Currency Account and the HSBC Everyday Global Account. Another account worth considering is the Wise Borderless Account, which can be used to hold more than 40 currencies, including USD.
How to transfer your money to your new US bank account
You can transfer funds to your US bank account directly from your Australian bank account. However, banks offer quite poor exchange rates on international transfers, so you can save money by using a specialist money transfer service when you need to send money to the US.
Use the table below to check out what your transaction would look like with an international transfer provider.
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