BANKING – SETTING UP A CHECKING ACCOUNT
We recommend that international students and scholars use the banking services available in the Tuscaloosa area, rather than relying on services in their home country. Banks in the U.S. offer many different services including: savings and checking accounts, debit cards, and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) access. In addition, most banks offer currency exchange at fair rates, wiring and electronic transfer of funds, and various other services.
When setting up an account with a bank, you should bring your passport and other immigration documents with you. 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 most likely will have to sign a statement/form 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.
Documentation required to set-up a checking account:
• USCIS document which proves your visa status (e.g. I-20, DS-2019, I-797 Approval, TN I-94, EAD Card, etc.)
• PLEASE NOTE: The Alabama Credit Union requires a verification letter from ISSS – Verification Letter Request (for Driver’s License, SSN, ID, or Bank)
• Proof of Physical Address
• Mailing Address (P.O. Box or street address where you can receive mail)
• University of Alabama Action ID Card
• Tuscaloosa Phone Number
• Email Address
We strongly suggest that you use a checking account for a variety of reasons:
1. The bank provides safety against loss or theft.
2. It is convenient to make transfers to deposits for any purchases, to satisfy debts, or to make withdrawals by writing checks.
3. A canceled check serves as your receipt of payment.
4. You will receive periodic statements of balance.
5. You can make withdrawals by mail.
We also suggest that you “shop around” for a bank that offers the best interest rates and lowest fees for the services that you will be using. The fees and hours of any bank you choose are subject to change.
There are several banks located close to campus. Below are the nearest bank branches to ISSS Offices (please note that ISSS does not endorse any particular bank):
Alabama Credit Union – http://alabamacu.com/
220 Paul W Bryant Drive E, Tuscaloosa, AL
Alabama Central Credit Union – http://alabamacentral.org/
423 15th St., Tuscaloosa, AL
BB&T Bank – http://www.bbt.com/
3610 McFarland Blvd. E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35405-2418
BBVA Compass – http://www.bbvacompass.com/
630 University Blvd. E, Tuscaloosa, AL
Capstone Bank – http://www.capstonebankal.com/
2301 University Blvd., Tuscaloosa, AL
DCH Credit Union – http://www.dchcu.com/
809 University Blvd. E., Tuscaloosa, AL
First Federal Bank – http://1stfed.com/
1300 McFarland Blvd NE, Suite 100, Tuscaloosa, AL
PNC Bank – https://www.pnc.com/
331 University Blvd., Tuscaloosa, AL
REGIONS – http://www.regions.com/
504 Paul W Bryant Dr., Tuscaloosa, AL
Wells Fargo Bank – https://www.wellsfargo.com/
PROTECTING YOUR MONEY
It is important to keep a record of all payments and deposits you have made to your bank accounts. You should always keep your checkbook balanced and in agreement with the monthly statement you receive. If the bank’s records disagree with your records, inform the bank immediately, and they will work with you to locate the error.
Checking accounts are a necessity for most students. Checks can be used to pay for items in most stores as well as to pay your monthly bills (you should never send cash in the mail). For many students, writing a check is a new experience, below is an example:
Some recommendations regarding your money:
• 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 ATM’s. Use well lit ATM locations.
• Also at ATM’s, keep alert when other people are around. Protect your personal ATM pin number from being seen as you enter it.
Please note: The U.S. Social Security Office will not issue a Social Security Number for the purpose of opening a bank account. For many international students and scholars, an SSN is not required to set up a bank account, and often the school-issued Campus Wide ID number and Action Card is usually sufficient identification.