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How to open a US bank account from Australia

Your simple and straightforward guide to opening a US bank account online.

If you're travelling to the USA, working or studying there, or even getting paid in US dollars, having a US bank account can save you a lot of time, money and unnecessary hassle. The good news is that Australians can open bank accounts in the US — in fact, there are multiple options available for anyone who wants to open a US bank account from Australia.

Process of opening a bank account in the US

If you're not a US resident, opening a US bank account can get a little complicated — but it's not impossible. The main barrier for Australians is that the majority of accounts are only available to US citizens and residents. So if you can't provide important documents such as US proof of ID, proof of a US address, or a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, you may not qualify for an account.

But even if you're not a US resident, there are other ways you can open a US bank account as an Australian. The right option for you will vary depending on your personal circumstances and financial needs, so let's take a closer look at what each has to offer.

US bank account options

There are three main ways to open a US bank account as an Australian.

Open a US bank account at a US bank

Your first option is to open an account with a major US Bank such as Wells Fargo, Chase or US Bank. But if you're an Australian citizen, you'll need to prove that you reside in the US by providing proof of address and often a Social Security Number. You may also need to visit a branch in person to apply. As a result, this is not a viable option for many Australians.

An alternative worth considering is opening an account with a bank that has an international presence, such as HSBC, Citibank or Charles Schwab. These international banks are more likely to offer accounts to foreigners, but the exact eligibility requirements vary between banks. International bank accounts also typically require large minimum deposits and have high monthly fees, so they won't be a realistic option for everyone.

Open a US bank account at an online bank

If you're willing to look beyond traditional banks, online banks like Chime and Majority could offer the account you need. Once again, you'll typically need to be a US resident to qualify for an account, but depending on the provider you choose, you may not need to supply a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

These online banks offer features such as money management apps, low fees, linked debit cards and even low-fee international calls, so it's worth shopping around to find out what's available.

Open a multi-currency account at an alternative non-bank

The third option is to consider opening an account with an alternative provider that allows you to hold funds in USD. One example is an account with personal finance provider Revolut, which lets you send and receive money in over 25 currencies including USD. The standard plan is free, but you'll need to upgrade to a paid plan to access higher currency exchange limits and other features.

But perhaps the best-known option is a Wise Multi-currency Account. This account lets you spend and send money in 40 currencies, and you get local bank account details in 9 different currencies, including USD. This means you have your own American account details to send and receive transfers in US dollars.

You don't need to be a US resident to sign up, there's no monthly fee, and Wise also offers the mid-market rate when you exchange one currency for another.

Documents needed to open a bank account

The documents you need to open a US bank account vary between banks and whether or not you're a US resident. However, you may be asked to provide:

  • Your name and contact details
  • Proof of ID
  • Your US Social Security Number
  • Your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

In some cases, you may also be required to provide proof of your US address.

How to send money to a US bank account

There are a few ways you can send money to a US bank account:

  • Bank transfer. The most convenient way to send money to the USA is to send an international transfer directly from your bank account. You can initiate the transfer via online or mobile banking or by visiting a branch, and you won't need to open a new account or go through any sort of sign-up process. The downside is that banks have high exchange rate markups and fees, so the transaction will end up costing more.
  • Specialist money transfer service. You'll get a much better exchange rate than your bank offers if you use a money transfer company. With lower exchange rate markups and low or no fees, these providers offer better value for money on international transfers and can send funds directly to your recipient's bank account. Compare international money transfer services to find the best deal for your transaction.
  • Cheque or money order. The third option is to send a cheque or money order to be deposited into a US bank account. This is obviously a slow transfer method, while fees also apply and you won't get the best exchange rate, so you're generally better off considering other options.

Compare money transfer companies

Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Xe Large Transfers
24 hours
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
24 hours
$0

Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
Revolut
Within minutes
$0
Send money with great rates and low fees in 30+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Instarem
Within minutes
From 0%
50% off first transaction fee from any country in APAC (outside India).
Minimum transfer of $250 and max transfer of $500,000
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
SingX
Within minutes
From 0.5%
SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and can help you send money across the world.
CurrencyFair
Within minutes
€3
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $1.99
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
WorldRemit
Within minutes
From $0.99
Use promo code 3FREE and pay no fees on your first 3 transfers. Conditions apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
Send Payments
24 hours
$0
Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
Qantas Business Money
Within minutes
$0
Limited time offer: Earn up to 125,000 bonus Qantas Points as a first-time converter. Ends 30 April 2024. Conversion limits and T&Cs apply.
Set up accounts in 11 different currencies and get rewarded for global business payments by earning Qantas Points.
Airwallex
Within minutes
$0
Streamline global payments in 60+ currencies. Send & receive securely in 150+ countries, with fast settlements & competitive rates. Simplify book-keeping & manage everything in one place.
TorFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
OFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
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Finder survey: What do Australians think is the cheapest way to transfer money overseas?

Response75+ yrs65-74 yrs55-64 yrs45-54 yrs35-44 yrs25-34 yrs18-24 yrs
I do not send money overseas44.83%54.29%49.42%46.63%34.52%31.65%30.93%
Bank transfer36.21%30.29%27.33%27.46%28.93%30.28%39.18%
International money transfer12.07%11.43%18.6%17.1%23.86%27.98%17.53%
Mobile wallet6.9%2.86%3.49%6.22%8.12%6.42%3.09%
Cash pickup0.57%1.55%3.05%1.83%8.25%
Money order0.57%1.16%1.04%1.52%1.83%1.03%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1110 Australians, December 2023

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