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Bank Accounts & Credit Cards

As you begin to settle in Kansas City you will need to open a bank account.

In an effort to reduce money laundering, U.S. financial institutions are required to verify the identity of every individual who opens a bank account. The Department of Treasury regulations found at 31 CFR § 103.121 set forth the following minimal information that the banks must obtain from you before allowing you to open an account:

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your street address - no P.O. Box
  • An identification number

Documents you should take with you to open your account:

  • Unexpired passport
  • I-94 card
  • I-20
  • Any secondary form of identification you may have
  • Form W-8 BEN if you are a student not eligible for a SSN or ITIN
  • Letter from MCC (optional, see below)

To assist you, MCC will provide you with a letter to the bank confirming your status and asking for their assistance in opening your account.

Banks are required to report any earnings you receive on interest earned on your account. For this reason they will ask you for a taxpayer identification number such as the Social Security Number (SSN) issued to those who work or the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) issued by the Internal Revenue Service to those individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security Number. Although the banks would greatly prefer that you already have one of these numbers, you can still open a bank account if you do not have one.

If you are eligible for a Social Security Number, we recommend that you apply for your Social Security Number as soon as possible. You are eligible for a Social Security Number if you are an F-1 student approved for curricular practical training, optional practical training or have already secured on-campus employment. If you have already applied for the SSN before you try to open a bank account, you should take a copy of the receipt notice with you. The receipt notice can serve as additional documentation that can help establish your identity. As soon as you receive your SSN, you should inform your bank.

If you are not eligible for a Social Security Number, you should apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and, once it is assigned, inform your bank of this number.

If you are an F-1 student who is not employed, you are not eligible for a Social Security Number. You must apply for an ITIN through the IRS instead. ITIN application procedures require that you present evidence that you own an interest-bearing bank account. You cannot obtain an ITIN until you can establish that you have opened an account with a bank. Once you have submitted your ITIN application, it will take the IRS approximately 4 to 6 weeks to assign you a number. If the bank account does not pay any interest, then you must wait to file for your ITIN when you file your required tax forms in April.

Kansas City Banks

Here is a list of banks in the Kansas City area close to the Penn Valley campus. All of these banks allow international students to open an account without obtaining a social security number.

Bank of America: www.bankofamerica.com
331 Westport Road
Kansas City, MO 64111
816.979.6780

3100 Main
Kansas City, MO 64111
816.979.6710

4720 Jefferson
Kansas City, MO 64112
816.979.6669

Bank Midwest: www.bankmw.com
1100 Main Street
Kansas City, MO
816.471.9800

Commercial Federal: www.comfedbank.com
5245 NW 64th Street
Kansas City, MO
816.587.2888

UMB: www.umb.com
Westport - Marsh's Sunfresh
4001 Mill St
Kansas City, MO 64111
816.502.7363

Plaza
4900 Main
Kansas City, MO 64112
816.860.7600

Union Bank: www.unionbankmo.com
31st and Prospect
Kansas City, MO
816.460.6432

U.S. Bank: www.usbank.com
4901 Main Street
Kansas City, MO 64112
816.360.6152

Credit Cards

Credit Cards are widely used in the U.S. and are necessary for many things, including making reservations for hotels, rental cars, getting discounted airfares over the Internet, etc. Unfortunately, it might be very difficult for you as a newly arrived foreign national to obtain a credit card in the U.S. as the ability to obtain a credit card is based in large part on your credit history in the U.S. Or, more accurately stated, your debt history. In order to get credit, you must have some debt.

Because of this difficulty, it is recommended that you obtain a credit card (Master Card or VISA) from your home country and bring it with you to assist in those situations where a credit card might be needed.

Wal-Mart is designing a Visa Pre-Paid Debit card that will not be attached to a bank account. Go to www.walmartmoneycard.com for more information. It will be a Visa-branded card, issued by GE Money (GE), that can be used almost anywhere that Visa debit cards are accepted, including at ATMs.

Last Modified: 9/19/11