British Expats

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-   -   Opening a US bank account (https://britishexpats.com/forum/usa-57/opening-us-bank-account-869491/)

Markg5150 Dec 21st 2015 11:39 am

Opening a US bank account
 
I'm moving to California in a week and thought I was being very well prepare in asking my current uk bank (HSBC) to open a US checking account for me well in advance of us travelling

What sounds like a simple task has been a farce black adder would be proud of!

If I tell HSBC to stick it and opt to walk into the nearest BOA branch when I arrive in California is it a very simple task to open an account there and then?

Noorah101 Dec 21st 2015 12:08 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Yes.

Rene

loubiblu Dec 21st 2015 2:18 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Yes, we walked into Chase the morning after we arrived with our passports and copy of our rental lease as proof of address and walked out 40 minutes later with a checking account, temporary checks and debit cards. We went back around 2 weeks later once we had SSN cards to update the accounts and open a savings account.

As an FYI, I've banked with HSBC (and Midland before that) for over 30 years. I opened a U.S. account before we left, but haven't used it once and can't see that I'll need to. I do use my UK account when buying from UK websites though.

NatashaB Dec 21st 2015 8:22 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Yes, it's pretty straightforward. We had no issues obtaining a mortgage with BoA on arrival and opening a bank account with them, even with no SSN.

Markg5150 Dec 21st 2015 8:28 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Thanks for your replies. Reassuring that it's straightforward, despite HSBC's best efforts

MidAtlantic Dec 21st 2015 8:48 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Don't just go for the big names. Look at some of the smaller community banks and credit unions near where you will be. They often offer better service and can be more flexible.
You can research here: https://www.depositaccounts.com/ or Bankrate.com - Compare mortgage, refinance, insurance, CD rates

Pulaski Dec 21st 2015 9:01 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Wells Fargo has an extensive presence in California, and has been praised here on BE as being very accommodating to new immigrants. I have banked with them since I left New York a number of years ago, ironically after telling HSBC in New York to close my account. :)

bruceba Dec 21st 2015 11:28 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by NatashaB (Post 11818983)
Yes, it's pretty straightforward. We had no issues obtaining a mortgage with BoA on arrival and opening a bank account with them, even with no SSN.

Acct opening is fairly easy. A mortgage without SSN not likely.

Markg5150 Dec 21st 2015 11:31 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
I just want a checking account so I can get paid as a first step ...

petitefrancaise Dec 21st 2015 11:58 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Markg5150. I recently updated the information in the wiki. It is very straightforward.

Category:Banking-USA : British Expat Wiki

Pulaski Dec 22nd 2015 12:24 am

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by Markg5150 (Post 11819107)
I just want a checking account so I can get paid as a first step ...

No SSN is required for a non-interest earning account, but a "government issued ID number" is required. A passport number is sufficient, a driving licence number is also acceptable.

petitefrancaise Dec 22nd 2015 12:31 am

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Wells fargo:
passport and proof of address which may be out of country to open the account. Then change to a PO box if you need to once account is opened. No SSN required until you start needing any credit products further down the line.
https://www.wellsfargo.com/checking/at-work/
no fees if you are direct depositing your salary of at least $1k a month.

You should be able to open the account and walk out with a temporary debit card and checks within 30 minutes.....

Markg5150 Dec 22nd 2015 8:00 am

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by petitefrancaise (Post 11819119)
Markg5150. I recently updated the information in the wiki. It is very straightforward.

Category:Banking-USA : British Expat Wiki

Very useful, thanks

BerkshireBugsy Dec 28th 2015 2:51 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
I was looking into this some months ago and was led to believe - as others have said it was easy to set up a bank account as long as you were present in the USA at the time and had the right documents. In my case I was looking at opening a bank account in Central Florida

However (and I am trying to dig out the details on this) some people had issues to do with the way their UK address was entered on the banks system and it caused delays when certain items needed to be posted to the UK.

I wish I had book marked it!

UPDATE: Here is a URL which contains comments about address formats (go down to the one that is dated 1 Aug 14, 10:43 PM). Note if your address is to be in the USA then this probably doesn't apply. I hope this post is allowed under forum rules - just trying to help!

http://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/arch.../t-812199.html

Markg5150 Dec 28th 2015 5:06 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Surprisingly hsbc came through at the last minute and confirmed the account has been opened! Debit cards etc to arrive shortly to our us address.

Very shoddy service from hsbc mainly caused by a lack of training of in uk branch personnel who have to check and copy documents. Putting stuff in envelopes is a little too difficult for some ...

orchid_in_bloom Dec 28th 2015 5:42 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
In our case, it wasn't a straightforward thing. Initially, we used AIG Travel guard who connected us to HSBC (prior to moving to the US). Eventually, we decided not to go with HSBC and go with another bank, First Republic.

Husband immediately applied for SSN the day after we arrived but the card didn't arrive after 7 days. The bank required our SSN and our US permanent address. As we were still waiting for our lease to get finalised, we couldn't provide both. Finally, after 3 weeks, husband has his SSN and lease got finalised, we were able to open his bank account.

In my case, as I'm still waiting for my EAD to get processed (I'm an E3 D visa holder), the bank representative was hemming and hawing about including me as a joint account holder. They were asking for payslip, name of company, etc which I couldn't provide because I didn't have the authority to work. I, also, cannot open my bank accounts in my own name, again, until I could provide my SSN.

On the other hand, a couple we recently met who are both H1B visa holders said they didn't have any issues applying for a bank account or even credit cards with Bank of America immediately upon arriving. So, I'm not sure whether it's a bank policy.

Pulaski Dec 28th 2015 6:19 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by orchid_in_bloom (Post 11822630)
In our case, it wasn't a straightforward thing. Initially, we used AIG Travel guard who connected us to HSBC (prior to moving to the US). Eventually, we decided not to go with HSBC and go with another bank, First Republic.

Husband immediately applied for SSN the day after we arrived but the card didn't arrive after 7 days. The bank required our SSN and our US permanent address. As we were still waiting for our lease to get finalised, we couldn't provide both. Finally, after 3 weeks, husband has his SSN and lease got finalised, we were able to open his bank account.

In my case, as I'm still waiting for my EAD to get processed (I'm an E3 D visa holder), the bank representative was hemming and hawing about including me as a joint account holder. They were asking for payslip, name of company, etc which I couldn't provide because I didn't have the authority to work. I, also, cannot open my bank accounts in my own name, again, until I could provide my SSN.

On the other hand, a couple we recently met who are both H1B visa holders said they didn't have any issues applying for a bank account or even credit cards with Bank of America immediately upon arriving. So, I'm not sure whether it's a bank policy.

It might be bank policy, it is more likely to be ignorance or poor training on the part of the teller/bank employee. Asking to speak to a supervisor is often effective but if that doesn't work I would recommend going to a different bank because they are making life unnecessarily difficult for you at a time when you already have lots of other personal admin and bureaucracy to deal with without having awkward banks and bank staff to deal with.

orchid_in_bloom Dec 28th 2015 6:50 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by Pulaski (Post 11822648)
It might be bank policy, it is more likely to be ignorance or poor training on the part of the teller/bank employee. Asking to speak to a supervisor is often effective but if that doesn't work I would recommend going to a different bank because they are making life unnecessarily difficult for you at a time when you already have lots of other personal admin and bureaucracy to deal with without having awkward banks and bank staff to deal with.

Hi Pulaski,

It has been frustrating but aside from this, the bank has been very helpful and have gone the distance for my husband on a number of occasions. I have been very impressed with their level of customer service.

At this point, I'm practicing patience as I believe the wait will be worth it. It helps that I have access to my Oz bank accounts, although I'm waiting for my card replacements due to a hacking incident :( (which is another story altogether), so now I'm using a prepaid credit card and cash to get by. :)

seano25 Dec 29th 2015 12:19 am

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Hi guys i arrived in the US on a spouse visa on the 23rd of December i went down to first bank today and opened an account with just my passport hassle free and had the online banking setup an hour later.

markcst Dec 29th 2015 4:01 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Chase is easy, however if you are thinking about getting a car, the AIG scheme that came with International AutoSource getting me a car gets you a Bank Account with a credit union who will help you build your credit as they are happy and used to dealing with ex-pats.

They might take you outside this scheme if you want to ping them. They are called Advancial. I've been impressed with what is basically a small bank having all the bells and whistles of bigger ones.

I did NOT need an SSN to open the account and was operating it before I hit the US.

mrken30 Dec 29th 2015 8:05 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
It may have been more of a problem not having a permanent address. I think most banks will require that. I would just try another bank/credit union, there are plenty around. If there are causing problems now, they may not be the best bank to be with. i had my credit union setup within days of arriving in the US.

petitefrancaise Dec 29th 2015 8:10 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
My guy at Wells Fargo told me that they will accept a foreign address provided you have proof that it is your address (utility/tax/bank statements) when you initially set up the account. You can't give them a temporary address (PO Box, Company address or hotel) to set up the account. Once the formalities are done and the account has been approved you can change it to wherever you want.

markcst Dec 30th 2015 4:27 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by mrken30 (Post 11823594)
It may have been more of a problem not having a permanent address. I think most banks will require that. I would just try another bank/credit union, there are plenty around. If there are causing problems now, they may not be the best bank to be with. i had my credit union setup within days of arriving in the US.

Advancial accepted my work address.

orchid_in_bloom Jan 7th 2016 8:50 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
Update: Finally have my bank accounts. I now have a joint account with my husband and my own bank account as well. I had to sign an IRS form (W8BEN), then had their two compliance teams vet me. Took almost a month but now it's done.

Considering how many of you had an easy time opening your bank accounts on a dependent visa, I guess we just chose a very strict bank. :)

Owen778 Jan 7th 2016 8:52 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by orchid_in_bloom (Post 11831091)
Update: Finally have my bank accounts. I now have a joint account with my husband and my own bank account as well. I had to sign an IRS form (W8BEN), then had their two compliance teams vet me. Took almost a month but now it's done.

Considering how many of you had an easy time opening your bank accounts on a dependent visa, I guess we just chose a very strict bank. :)

The W8-BEN is for US non-residents (for tax purposes). I don't know your status, but it sounds like you are tax resident, so you will likely need to supply them with a W9 instead as soon as you have your social security number.

orchid_in_bloom Jan 7th 2016 9:21 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by Owen778 (Post 11831094)
The W8-BEN is for US non-residents (for tax purposes). I don't know your status, but it sounds like you are tax resident, so you will likely need to supply them with a W9 instead as soon as you have your social security number.

I'm on a E-3D visa, since we just arrived last Nov and I still don't have an SSN, I suppose that was the reason why they asked me to fill out the W8.

Thanks, will follow that up as soon as I get my SSN.

Pulaski Jan 7th 2016 9:28 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by orchid_in_bloom (Post 11831117)
I'm on a E-3D visa, since we just arrived last Nov and I still don't have an SSN, I suppose that was the reason why they asked me to fill out the W8. ....

They asked you to fill out a W8 because they don't know what the 4ëll they are doing. :nod: .... If you're resident in the US a W8 is not the right form.

Owen778 Jan 7th 2016 9:31 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by orchid_in_bloom (Post 11831117)
I'm on a E-3D visa, since we just arrived last Nov and I still don't have an SSN, I suppose that was the reason why they asked me to fill out the W8.

Thanks, will follow that up as soon as I get my SSN.

Not sure if this aplies to you, but if you're not allowed an SSN, then you can apply for an ITIN instead on form W7.

orchid_in_bloom Jan 7th 2016 9:42 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by Owen778 (Post 11831129)
Not sure if this aplies to you, but if you're not allowed an SSN, then you can apply for an ITIN instead on form W7.

Oh, I am allowed an SSN. The thing is I'm still waiting for my EAD, which I've filed last Nov, before I can apply for an SSN.

Sometimes, I wonder if government agencies here just love their letters and numbers so much, which would explain the proliferation of letter-numbers in visas and forms.

orchid_in_bloom Jan 7th 2016 9:43 pm

Re: Opening a US bank account
 

Originally Posted by Pulaski (Post 11831125)
They asked you to fill out a W8 because they don't know what the 4ëll they are doing. :nod: .... If you're resident in the US a W8 is not the right form.

Sigh. Too many forms.

LonelyCloud Feb 15th 2016 10:16 am

Re: Opening a US bank account
 
I also have been impressed with how complicated HSBC can make a seemingly simple process. With 4 days until we move, they have just called me to say we need you to provide more details. The forms will arrive at your branch in a few days!!

So I've also told them to stick it.

Now printing off statements with UK address just in case, although we 'may' have our lease by the time we hit the nearest bank.


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