Executive Chronicles | When you’re travelling abroad as a student, there’s a good chance you’ll be away from your home for no less than six months. Setting up a bank account in such a scenario is the obvious way to go, and you may need to turn to banks for other services as well. What’s important, though, is that you understand how to pick the right bank, and how to avoid them when possible.
Opening a Bank Account
Opening a bank account when you move to a new country as a student will give you an easy and secure way to hold your money, pay bills, and make purchases. The documents you need to provide to open a bank account will depend on where you’re going. International students in the U.S. usually have no trouble opening bank accounts, especially if they are part of their orientation program. There, they get to interact with representatives of different banks and choose from an array of options.
As an international student in the U.S., you will need to provide a copy of your passport, a proof of your student status, and proof of address. If you plan to get a credit card, you will need to provide proof of income. In addition, expect the card provider to run a credit check.
Factors to Consider
Students look at different factors when selecting a bank or a bank account. Ask yourself these questions before making a decision:
- Does the bank you choose have an ATM on your campus?
- Does the account you want come with an overdraft facility?
- Can you get a checkbook if you need one?
- If you plan to save money, should you consider opening a savings account?
Do Not Ignore the Fees
It is important that take a look at the fees you might need to pay before you open an account. For starters, will you need to pay on ongoing account maintenance fees? If you get a checkbook to go with your account, bear in mind that it comes at a cost that may vary from one bank to the next. Determine how many free ATM transactions you get in a month and how much you’ll need to pay if you exceed the limit. If the account you choose comes with an overdraft facility, establish if it’s free or not.
How to Avoid Fees?
If your debit card comes with an ATM withdrawal limit, try not to exceed it. If you get a credit card, make sure you make your payments on time. Pay particular attention to any overdraft fee you might need to pay because this usually finds a mention only in the fine print. If you plan to receive money from overseas, avoiding banks completely might be in your best interest.
Receiving Money From Overseas
There are numerous instances when international students receive money from their home countries, be it to pay tuition fees or for taking care of living expenses. When international fund transfers are initiated through banks, they tend to come with typically high fees and less-than-desirable exchange rates.
All you need to do is get the sender to register with a specialist fund transfer company such as WorldRemit, TransferWise, WorldFirst, or Currencies Direct, and the money still gets directly to your bank account. The soon-to-be launched multi-currency card linked to the TransferWise Borderless Account may work well for students who wish to hold funds in multiple currencies. Signing up with these companies is easy and takes little time.
When you’re travelling to a foreign country as a student, opening a bank account is something you may need to do early on. What’s important is that you compare your options well and pay attention to all associated fees and charges. If you plan to receive funds from your home country, steering clear of banks and looking at overseas money transfer companies is ideal.