Banking in the USA

Banking in the USA


Transferring Money from Home


transfer

There are many ways you can transfer money from your home bank account to a bank account in the US. Here are some of the most common:

  • Third-party apps such as Transferwise can complete international currency transfers quickly and often with minimal fees
  • You can also work directly with your home bank to request a wire transfer. You will need the following information from the receiving bank:
    • Bank address
    • Account number
    • Routing number
    • Bank SWIFT code
    • Beneficiary name (usually your own)
  • External providers such as Western Union or Moneygram can also provide quick transfer service, usually without the need of a bank account or credit union

Upon Arrival

Upon arrival to the USA, be advised of the following:

plane
  • Most businesses accept credit or debit cards, but plan to exchange some money into U.S. dollars when you arrive at the airport in order to pay for transportation to campus, tips for baggage handling, hotel, and other possible expenses. The exchange rate will likely be higher at the airport than elsewhere but it is necessary to have a bit of cash because in some instances credit and debit cards are not accepted.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash.
  • If you are staying for an extended period, you can open an account at a bank and draw on funds or arrange for funds to be transferred to a more conveniently located banking institution.
  • If you are staying for a shorter period, you can likely pull money out of your bank account from your home country using ATMs and pay a service charge.

Bank options in San Luis Obispo

There are many banks located in San Luis Obispo. These banks offer various types of financial services, such as checking accounts, savings accounts, safe deposit boxes for valuables, foreign currency conversion, international money orders, and electronic wire transfers.

  • Golden 1 Credit Union

    bank

    852 Foothill Boulevard
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93405


    phone

    (877)465-3361

  • SESLOC Federal Credit Union

    bank

    3807 Broad Street
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401


    phone

    (805) 543-1816

  • Bank of America

    bank

    105 Higuera Street
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401


    phone

    (805)858-9024

  • Chase

    *SSN not required to open account.

    bank

    On-Campus in University Union

    (805) 785-0219



    bank

    Downtown Branch

    1235 Chorro Street
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

    phone

    Call Center: (800) 492-7587
    Local Branch: (805) 595-5602

  • Wells Fargo Bank

    *SSN not required to open account.

    bank

    San Luis Obispo Branch

    665 Marsh Street
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

    phone

    Call Center: (800) 869-3557
    Local Branch: (805) 541-0143



    bank

    Broad & Tank Farm Branch

    3900 Broad Street (inside Vons supermarket)
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

    phone

    Call Center: (800) 869-3557
    Local Branch: (805) 541-0945

  • Rabobank

    *SSN required to open account
    *Currency exchange for account holder

    bank

    2276 Broad Street
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401


    phone

    (805) 541-5500


    bank

    75 Santa Rosa Street
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

    phone

    (805) 544-7070

  • Union Bank

    bank

    Main Branch

    995 Higuera Street
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

    phone

    (805) 783-5140

Banks and Credit Unions Explained

How Banks are Different from Credit Unions

BANKS

  • Banks are for-profit corporations that serve a large number of people
  • Have state-wide or nation-wide branches

Advantages:

  • Have 24-hour customer service
  • Have ATM Locations throughout the USA
  • Have a safe deposit box service
  • Have weekend business hours
  • Offer credit cards for students

Disadvantages:
  • The drawbacks of banking with large corporations are maintaining a higher minimum balance and having to pay higher service fees and penalty fees.

CREDIT UNIONS

  • Credit Unions are non-profit organizations that serve the needs of a specific group of people
  • Usually locally based

Advantages:

  • Maintaining a lower minimum balance
  • Free 24-hour banking service
  • Free checking accounts
  • Free over-draft protection for your checking account
  • Lower service fees and penalty fees

Disadvantages:

  • Fewer ATM locations
  • Usually no weekend business hours
  • No 24-hour customer representatives to answer questions
  • No credit cards especially for students
  • Usually lack of safe deposit box service

When selecting a bank or credit union, it is best to compare your needs to the services that the bank or credit union offers.

Savings & Checking Accounts

SAVINGS ACCOUNTS

A minimum $100 to $300 is usually required to open an account with a bank. Credit Unions usually require about $50 minimum balance. When you open an account, you usually receive an automatic teller machine (ATM) card. This card will allow you to access your account even when the bank is closed. Credit Unions may charge a $5 fee for your first ATM card and for each replacement card prior to your ATM card expiration date.

CHECKING ACCOUNTS

After opening a checking account, which may cost you a monthly fee, you will be given a book of “temporary checks.” Some banks will waive a monthly fee if you are a student. You can write checks against the balance in your account. You will also be given a small booklet with your checks to be used to keep a record of the checks you write and the money you deposit. Good record keeping is very important, but you will be able to view how much money is in your account via online banking services. Banks and credit unions charge a penalty for overdrawing your account. The penalty fee usually starts at $20. Your bank will not honor a check written if the funds necessary to cover it are not in your account, and the business or person to whom you wrote the check may charge you a penalty fee as well.



ATM Usage

A service charge of about $3 per month may be charged for the ATM if your account balance goes below the minimum. There is also usually a per-usage charge of $3 to $4 when using an ATM not provided by your bank or credit union. ATMs have a daily maximum allowable withdrawal amount to protect your account in case of theft. The maximum amount is between $200 to $500 depending on your bank or credit union. In the evening, select ATMs that are inside supermarkets or on brightly lit streets. For your safety, save your receipt and wait until you are in a safe place to count your money. ATMs will only accept deposits from customers of their bank or credit union. You can deposit cash or checks into an ATM location, or deposit checks through your bank’s mobile banking app by taking a picture of both sides of the check. Before depositing a check, you must endorse the check by signing your name on line on the back.

ATM Locations on Cal Poly Campus

Cal Poly has 3 ATM locations:

  • Chase Bank provides an ATM machine by their office across from the University store.
  • Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank each has an ATM machine behind the University Store near the Avenue Eatery.
  • Chase and Golden One have ATMs outside the Campus Market.

The Cal Poly Cashier, located in the Administration Building, only accepts cash or checks in person. Cal Poly accepts payments through their International Payment Portal (Flywire). You can pay by international wire transfer, foreign debit/ credit cards, eChecks, as well as other local payment options from a specific country. If you pay via credit card online, you will be charged with a 2.75% convenience fee. Payment via eCheck does not have a service charge.

Writing a Check

  • Checks aren’t used frequently, but you may need to write one in the instance of a security deposit or in order to pay rent.
  • Venmo is an app popular among Cal Poly students that replaces the need for checks. The app works similarly to PayPal and users are able to connect their Venmo account with their US bank account or debit card in order to send money to other users. A Venmo account must be connected to a U.S. telephone number.