Bank Information and Resources for International Students

Opening a Bank Account

In the USA, it is customary to use checks and credit cards rather than using cash because it is easier and safer.  It is best to open an account at a bank so that money can be taken out of the account when needed.  It is not safe to carry large amounts of cash.

Most banks are open Monday through Friday from morning until early evening; some are also open on Saturday morning.  Upon opening an account, a “cash machine” card will be offered so you can withdraw money at any hour, day or night.  These cards can be used at automated teller machines (ATMs) all over the world.  Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are located behind the Price Center on campus and at the Student Center.  You can use an ATM of a bank other than yours, but it usually costs a small fee (between $1-$5 each time it is used).

The two main types of bank accounts are:

  • Checking Account:  Allows checks to be written for purchases and for paying bills.
  • Savings Account:  An account to keep your money and earn interest.

Some checking accounts also pay interest.  Most people in the USA pay their bills with checks.  Cash should NEVER be sent in the mail to pay for a bill or for any other reason.

To Open a Bank Account:

To open an account at most banks you will need one or two valid forms of identification and a local postal address to receive mail.  A passport and a UC San Diego identification card are usually sufficient.  At least $25 is usually required to open an account, and there will be a monthly service charge for the account unless a “minimum balance requirement” (as much as $500 or higher) is maintained.  There will also be a charge to have checks printed. 

Banks often have “hidden” fees, so be sure to inquire about all possible fees.  Not all banks require a US Social Security number to open an account, however, bank services may be limited (no online banking, etc.) if you do not have a Social Security number.

Below is a list of banks and credit unions located on-campus or near UC San Diego: 

ATM Safety Tips

  • Never tell anyone your bank PIN (personal identification number)
  • Put cash and card away as soon as you are done with the transaction
  • Stand close to machine and do not let anyone see what you are doing
  • Be aware of the surroundings
  • Look for a machine in a well-lit area
  • Have documents and cards ready before-hand

Wire Transfer

Full-service banks with international banking capabilities sell international money orders and receive deposits from banks outside of the USA.  The best way to transfer funds from your country of origin to the USA is by electronic wire transfer directly from bank-to-bank.  This method allows immediate credit and use of the money.  Other methods of obtaining funds from abroad (for example, money order, checks, etc.) will cause a delay of two weeks or longer in availability of funds.

If you need to set up a wire transfer from your home country’s bank to UC San Diego for payment purposes, you may seek additional information by contacting the following:

  • For main campus depository accounts (such as wires or ACH payments) email bankwires@ucsd.edu
  • For the UC San Diego Medical Group, contact Rima A. Handal (619)543-1899
  • For the UC San Diego Medical Center (hospital), contact Gary Nittoly (619)543-3690