Many banks in the USA and UK have a policy of charging for "features" like overdrafts and low balance fees, neither of which are desired.

I was able to find one American bank that provided no-frills banking services, but it was unavailable to international students since it required a minimum of a green card. Are there any alternatives? My school is in New York state, but nationwide answers may also be helpful for other users.

  • 1
    Look into a local credit union that serves your city or your university. Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 5:52
  • 2
    At most banks you can get a basic service for free. Some basic accounts may have a fee, but it can be waived if you meet some simple criteria. Being a student may be one of these. For example Bank of America Core Checking account has a $12/mo fee, but it's waived if you make a monthly $250 deposit, have an average balance of $1500, or are a student under 23.
    – dan1111
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 6:21
  • @dan1111 These fees are exactly what I am trying to avoid. Granted that they can be avoided if you jump through some hoops, but I would prefer an account without such fees attached.
    – March Ho
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 7:59
  • @MarchHo, agreed that they are annoying, but avoiding them may not be possible these days. If you are a funded PhD student and getting a monthly paycheck, simply having this directly deposited to the account would be sufficient to meet most banks' rules.
    – dan1111
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 8:13

1 Answer 1


Some options:

Ask the student support services at your university. They may be aware of banks that offer free student accounts, for which you as an international student, might qualify. This would be especially helpful if your foreign student status is making it hard to find an option. However, I wouldn't count on the university having the best information; I would want to do my own research, too.

Search local banks for free checking. Just about every bank offers some sort of free account option. As you point out, an annoyance these days is that there is often a default monthly fee, with some requirements you must meet in order to have it waived.

It may be possible to find a free student account that doesn't have any fees at all.

Otherwise, look for an account that has a very easy way to waive the monthly fee (for some accounts this is as minimal as making one transaction of any kind per month. In other cases you have to have some money put in your account each month by direct deposit).

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