Best Bank Accounts for Immigrants

Updated on January 8, 2024

At a Glance

  • Explore the top 5 bank accounts for immigrants in the US: Aspiration, Alliant Credit Union, Bank of America, and HSBC, offering low-cost options with flexible identification requirements.
  • Simplify the process of setting up a basic bank account, a crucial step for immigrants facing varying requirements in the US banking system.
  • Verify details with the respective banks to ensure accessibility and suitability for your financial needs.
  • Navigate the financial challenges of moving to a new country by selecting a bank account that aligns with your immigration status and preferences.

Table of Contents

5 Best Bank Accounts for Immigrants in the US

In the following section, we will explore five of the best bank accounts for immigrants in the US. These accounts offer accessible and low-cost options, regardless of your immigration status. We will provide key details and compare each bank’s services, making it easier for you to choose the account that suits your needs. Let’s dive in!

1. Alliant – High Rate Checking

★★★★★ 5.0

APY:  0.25%
Monthly Fee: $0 
Member FDIC 


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Overview

Alliant is a credit union that offers online banking nationally with higher interest earning potential. It provides good online and mobile services, meeting basic banking needs for immigrants. It also offers nationwide ATM reimbursements.

Services

  • Online checking and savings
  • Mobile banking and deposits
  • Higher interest earning potential

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Higher interest earning rates
  • Good online and mobile services
  • Nationwide ATM reimbursements

Cons

  • No physical branches
  • Membership eligibility rules

2. Aspiration – Aspiration Plus

★★★★☆ 4.0

APY:  Up to 1%
Monthly Fee: $0
FDIC Insured


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Overview

Aspiration is an online bank that offers socially conscious banking services. It has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, making it easily accessible for immigrants starting out in the US. It also allows cash deposits through partnerships with retailers and offers socially conscious investing.

Services

  • Online checking and savings accounts
  • Cash deposits through partnerships with retailers
  • Socially conscious investing

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • No monthly fees or balance minimums
  • Cash deposit options without physical branches
  • Socially conscious company

Cons

  • No physical branch locations
  • Limited ATM access

3. Bank of America – Core Checking

★★★☆☆ 3.0

APY: Varies based on balance
Monthly Fee: $12 if under minimum daily balance 
Member FDIC


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Overview

Bank of America is one of the largest consumer banks in the US, offering widespread ATMs and physical branches. It provides multilingual services that can be useful for immigrants. It offers a range of services including checking, savings, credit cards, and lending. Bank of America is an established and trusted consumer bank.

Services

  • Checking, savings, credit cards, lending
  • Spanish language services
  • Widespread branches and ATM access

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Extensive physical branch and ATM network
  • Spanish language services
  • Established trusted consumer bank

Cons

  • Monthly fees or balance requirements
  • Fewer higher interest earning options

4. HSBC – Advance Checking

★★☆☆ 3.0

APY: 0.01%
Monthly Fee: $15 monthly fee, but can be waived 
FDIC Insured


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Overview

HSBC is an international bank that offers services specifically aimed at immigrants and newcomers. It provides international money transfers, checking and savings accounts, and global branch access. HSBC is a good option for immigrants who require global banking services.

Services

  • International money transfers
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Global branch access

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • International money transfers
  • Worldwide access
  • Services for newcomers

Cons

  • Limited US branch locations
  • Monthly fees may apply

5. Wells Fargo – Everyday Checking

★★☆☆☆ 2.0

APY: 0.01%
Monthly Fee: $10 monthly service fee, but can be waived
Member FDIC


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Overview

Wells Fargo is another bank with accessible branch locations, Spanish language services, and loan options. It provides various services such as checking, savings, credit cards, lending, and mortgages. While it has faced recent scandals related to accounts and lending practices, it still offers a variety of lending products.

Services

  • Checking, savings, credit cards, lending, mortgages
  • Spanish language services
  • Branch and ATM access

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Numerous branch locations
  • Spanish language services
  • Variety of lending products

Cons

  • Recent scandals related to accounts and lending practices
  • Monthly fees or balance requirements

Best Banks for Immigrants Comparison

Bank/Credit UnionMinimum to OpenMonthly FeeOpen Without SSN
Aspiration$10NoneYes
Alliant Credit Union$5NoneYes, ITIN
Bank of America$100$12No, ITIN Only
Wells Fargo$25$10Yes, ITIN
HSBC$1$5Yes, ITIN

What to Look for in a Bank Account

Opening your first bank account in the United States as an immigrant can seem daunting. You want to find an accessible and welcoming bank that meets your needs. Here are a few key factors to consider when choosing an immigrant-friendly bank account:

No Minimum Balance Fees

As a new immigrant, you may not have a lot saved up yet to keep a minimum balance. Seek out checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees or ways to waive fees like with a direct deposit. This will make banking more affordable as you get started.

FDIC Insured

Make sure any bank you use is FDIC insured. This protects your deposits up to $250,000 in the case of a bank failure. Credit unions have similar protections. Only consider banks with this type of financial backing.

ID Requirements

Banks will require identification but should work with valid foreign IDs if you don’t yet have a US government-issued ID. Ask about ID requirements before opening an account.

Language Support

If English is not your first language, find out what language services a bank provides. At minimum, look for clear translations on websites & documents as well as multilingual customer service.

Accessibility

Evaluate accessibility in terms of online/mobile access, ATM networks, physical branches, and cash deposit options. More accessible banking can better meet your needs.

Do your research to find the right fit. The banks above all have immigrant friendly options worth considering if these key criteria align with your banking priorities as a new immigrant.

Final Thoughts

Opening an accessible, affordable bank account is an essential first step for immigrants in the US. While Social Security Numbers are commonly used for identification, all of the banks profiled here provide alternative options. With low minimums to open, no monthly fees, and IDs like ITINs or passports accepted, getting started is within reach. Reach out with any other questions!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I need a Social Security Number to open a bank account?

No, there are several major banks like Aspiration, Alliant, Wells Fargo and HSBC that allow opening accounts with an ITIN or passport instead of an SSN.

How much money do I need to open an account?

Minimum deposits range from as little as $1 with HSBC or $5 at Alliant Credit Union up to $100 with Bank of America. Online banks like Aspiration have very low minimums around $10.

What if I don’t have US identification documents yet?

Banks will work with valid foreign identification like passports, national IDs, or foreign driver’s licenses paired with an alternative number such as an ITIN. Aspiration even allows certain accounts opened just with a passport.

Are there fees to maintain my account every month?

Several options like Aspiration and Alliant Credit Union offer basic checking accounts with no monthly fees at all. Other banks charge fees ranging from $5-12 per month unless certain balance minimums are met. Compare fee schedules carefully when selecting an account.

Can I still earn interest in an account without an SSN?

Yes, you can open interest-earning savings, money market, or CD accounts at many institutions by providing an ITIN instead of an SSN for tax reporting purposes. This allows full access to earned interest payments over time. Be sure to ask a bank representative about options.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.