We recommend that international students use the banking services available in the Syracuse area rather than rely on services in their home country. Banks in the U.S. offer many different services. Standard services include savings and checking accounts, in addition to Automated Teller Machine (ATM) access, most banks offer currency exchange at fair rates, wiring and electronic transfer of funds, and various other services.
You should take your passport and other immigration documents with you when you go to open your bank account; the bank representative will need you to show proof of your identity. When you first set up a bank account, you will have to sign a statement called a W-8. The W-8 certifies that you are a non-citizen and are not subject to the withholding of income taxes on interest on your deposit.
Please note: The U.S. Social Security Office will not issue a social security number for opening a bank account. For students at Syracuse University, the school-issued number is sufficient. For spouses and dependents, please refer to the information on social security numbers.
We suggest that you use a checking account for a variety of reasons:
- The bank provides safety against loss or theft.
- It is convenient to make transfers to deposits for any purchases, to satisfy debts or to make withdrawals by writing checks.
- A canceled check serves as your receipt of payment.
- You will receive periodic statements of balance.
- You can make withdrawals by mail.
- Keep most of your money in the bank.
- Do not carry large amounts of money with you; there is always the risk of losing it or having it stolen.
- Keep your financial records in order.
- Carry your identification card(s) with you at all times; banks require it before cashing checks and so do most stores.
- Be cautious when using ATMs. Use well-lit ATM locations.
- Also at ATMs, keep alert when other people are around. Protect your personal ATM pin number from being seen as you enter it.