How to Open a U.S.A. Bank Account for Non-Resident Foreigners Not Living in the United States and with No Social Security Number

There are a few great advantages having a U.S. bank account even if you’re not an American citizen and not living in the U.S., including, but not limited to:

1) If you have an online business like I do, and receive payments via Paypal, you may have noticed that whenever you withdraw your US$ Paypal earnings to your local bank account in your home country, you are forced to convert the money into your home country’s currency at Paypal’s forex conversion rates which are often not very competitive (Nothing against Paypal; they’re probably just trying to protect themselves from forex fluctuations, which is understandable). Even if you have a US$ account in your home country, Paypal does *not* let you withdraw your US$ earnings into your home country US$ account.

If you have a US$ account in the United States, however, you can withdraw your US$ Paypal earnings into your US$ bank account in the United States with zero forex conversion. And then, when you need money, you can either (a) use your US bank account’s ATM card and withdraw money in local currency in your home country, or (b) transfer your money from your U.S. bank account to your home country US$ bank account; this transfer can be FREE (I’ll talk about that more below).

2) If you have clients, customers, or friends in the U.S., it will be very easy to ask them for payment through a direct deposit to your U.S. bank account; and you can then withdraw the money at your home country from most ATMs using your US bank account’s ATM card.

3) It is much easier and cheaper (less or no transfer fees and forex conversion) to collect money from many online business opportunities and websites (such as Clickbank, and many others) if you have a U.S. bank account.

… and many other advantages (I can’t name all). So anyway, how to open a bank account in the U.S.A. if you’re a non-resident foreigner?

Many people find it difficult because many/most banks in the U.S. will require you to have 1) a U.S. address, 2) a U.S. Social Security number, and 3) a U.S. mobile phone number.

Is there any way around this? YES.

The easiest way, I discovered during my trip to New York, is to open an account NOT with the usual “small time” banks, but to open an account with CITIBANK. I just needed:
(1) my passport,
(2) English language proof of address from my home country (such as a phone bill, credit card bill, etc.),
(3) a U.S. mobile number (easily got a prepaid one at T-Mobile branch)
(4) a minimum deposit of US$1,500 (yup, I know that can be a bit much for a lot of people, but think of it as an investment… and boy it’s a good investment when compared to the advantages of having a U.S. bank account)

Once you have your Citibank account open, you’ll have access to Citibank’s online banking for your account, from which you can manage your funds; and from what I understand, you can even transfer money for free to your Citibank account in your home country if you already have one! How can you beat that?

One more thing… I earlier said that I used a temporary prepaid mobile number, which the bank required so that they can send me SMS updates, one-time-passwords, etc. and call me up if needed. However, I lose that number once I leave the U.S., right? So how can the bank contact me then?

Simple!

1) While you’re in the U.S. and already have a prepaid U.S. number, be sure to get a permanent U.S. phone number via GOOGLE VOICE. Sign up with Google Voice is free, and you will be assigned a U.S. phone number. (Note: those are 2 different USA numbers; one for your prepaid, and one from Google Voice)

If anyone tries to call you up using your Google Voice USA number, you can have that call redirected to your GOOGLE HANGOUTS app so that your mobile phone will ring; and if anyone sends an SMS to your Google Voice number, you can have the SMS directed to your GMAIL account.

2) To get a U.S. Google Voice number, you need to physically be in the U.S. *and* you must have a U.S. mobile (even just prepaid) number (which I got at T-Mobile). After successful signup and as you leave the U.S., you can delete U.S. prepaid number from your Google Voice account and still retain your American Google Voice phone number.

3) Next? Log on to your Citibank account, and change your phone number from your prepaid number to your Google Voice number (so that you’ll then receive Citibank voice calls on your Google Hangouts app and receive Citibank SMS on your Gmail).

So that’s what happened to me. How about you? Were you able to open a U.S. bank account as a non-resident foreigner? If yes, how?

DISCLAIMER: I had a good experience doing this, but I make no guarantees as to your success or failure in opening/managing a U.S. bank account like I did. Good luck!

4 Comments

  • Luisa Ortiz

    Reply Reply 18 February 2016

    Great post!
    Thanks. It was very helpful.

    • David

      Reply Reply 19 February 2016

      @Luisa: glad you find it helpful!

  • Peter

    Reply Reply 12 January 2017

    I am also planning to open a bank account within the next few months. As far as I understand Capital One, TD Bank and Citibank are both great options and easy to open an account.

    (links redacted)

    • David

      Reply Reply 18 January 2017

      @Peter thanks for the info!

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