A US permanent resident may open a bank account after immigrating to the United States. There are several different types of bank and credit unions to choose from and each will offer different services and interest rates to customers and charge certain fees for various services.
In order to open a bank account in the USA, a permanent resident will usually need to present one official form of identification (such as a valid driver’s license issued in the United States, valid passport, Permanent Resident Card, etc.) to the bank clerk in charge of opening new accounts, but it is common to be asked to show two forms of valid identification when opening a bank account (such as a Permanent Resident Card and a driver’s license).
US permanent residents may want to open a savings account if they want to earn interest on their deposit. A passbook may be issued at the bank when the savings account is opened and is used to keep track of deposits, withdrawals and the account balance.
A checking account may also be opened and used for making payments using paper checks (for example, to pay the rent, pay utility or other bills, make purchases at a store, etc.) or using a plastic check/debit card that will often have a Visa or MasterCard logo and looks like a credit card, but actually takes money out of one’s bank account instantly at the point of sale. Some checking accounts offer interest if a certain minimum balance is maintained. When a checking account is opened, the bank may provide the customer with a limited supply of basic “starter checks” and then send a larger supply of checks with the customer’s printed information to their home address (or the customer may ask to pick them up in person at the bank). Since the “starter checks” usually only have basic information printed on them, such as the name of the bank and the customer’s account number, some stores or other places may not accept the “starter check” for payment (they are usually used for paying bills through the mail). The larger supply of printed checks is often ready for bank customers within two weeks.
A plastic Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) card is usually issued when one opens either a savings or checking account and allows one to withdraw money from one’s bank account. In many cases, a small fee is charged by the bank for using their ATM. When a check/debit card or ATM card is issued by the bank, a Personal Identification Number (PIN) is normally issued (usually provided to the bank customer separately for security reasons) and is used as a secret code to be used when using an ATM (for example, to withdraw money from one’s bank account), so this number should be kept safe.
In addition to opening a savings and/or checking account, US permanent residents may also apply for loans or credit cards at their bank. The applicant will likely need to provide their Social Security Number (SSN) to the bank so they can perform a credit check. Interest is usually charged for loans and credit card purchases, so credit should be used wisely to avoid getting into financial trouble. In some cases, certain credit cards offer interest-free credit if the balance is paid off within a certain brief period of time. One of the benefits of being a US permanent resident is being able to buy a home, open a business or attend post-secondary educational programs (such as college or university), so building a good credit record by making payments on time is very important.