Indian immigrants’ guide to banking in the US

4 min readJul 29, 2020


Settling in the United States of America is a dream for many across the world. Whether you’re a fresh college graduate looking to study in the US, a working professional relocating for a job opportunity, or someone moving on a short-term basis, opening a bank account is one of the first steps in finding your financial footing. For Indians immigrating to the US, the contrast between the banking systems in the two countries can seem rather stark. Let’s discuss what the differences are and how you can overcome them.

1. Account opening procedures

Opening a bank account in the US allows you to manage your finances, access essential services like property rentals and start building credit in the country. While the process of setting up an account is fairly straightforward for American citizens/residents, it might not be so for new immigrants. Every bank has its own requirements, but by and large, you may need the following:

· Personal and contact details, including full residential address

· Driver’s licence or state issued ID document

· Social Security Number (SSN)

· An opening deposit payment

In the absence of these prerequisites, you may be required to visit the bank. This can be cumbersome for new immigrants, who are not likely to have all their documents in place right away.

2. Cost of fund transfers

Indians are used to transferring funds at no cost. Banks in India charge zero to minimum charge on digital transactions via their Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) for large, instant fund transfers and the National Funds Transfer (NEFT) system for other fund transfers. It may come as quite a surprise that some American banks charge an external transfer fee of $3 to $10, increasing the strain on consumers’ pockets.

An important note if you are looking to remit money back to India, is that money transfers to India are also expensive. Banks may charge between $25-$50 for wire transfers overseas. So be mindful and top up that extra bit to ensure that the recipients back home receive the amount intended.

3. Account fees and surcharges

In the US, look out for hidden fees and surcharges and read your account agreements and disclosures carefully before you open your account. Services that are typically free in India, such as ATM withdrawals, checks, deposits and withdrawals from an account, may be charged for in US bank accounts. There are some websites that do frequent comparisons on fee charges imposed, do check them out.

4. Difference in banking terminology

Indians who are new to the system may be thrown off by the way accounts are named. For example, a fixed deposit account in India is called a certificate of deposit (CD) in the US. A current account in India is similar to a checking account in the US. Even the spellings differ for common terms — in US checks are spelled ‘checks’ vs. ‘cheques’ in India. Get acquainted with different account types and gauge which one is best for you, based on what they offer.

Opt for digital banks for smoother banking experience

Digital banks save you the hassle of waiting in long lines at the bank and let you take control of your account from anywhere in the world, giving you 24/7 access to your finances. Digital bank accounts usually have no minimum balance requirement, and often offer high yield savings insured by FDIC up to $250,000. Unlike traditional banks, digital platforms enable debit card availability and multi-currency access as soon as you arrive in the US, helping you save on hidden FX fees and added ATM charges.

Settle in faster with Rayo!

If you’re thinking of moving to the US, Rayo promises to give you a head start. Right from opening a bank account until after you’ve settled down in your new home, Rayo is with you all the way through.

One of the most unique features of our offering is that we enable you to set up your US bank account, even before you arrive in the US; so you don’t need to scramble for documents or wait in bank lines.

Another attractive benefit is that you can open your NRE/NRO[1] [2] account in India, which is otherwise a long-drawn-out, tedious process in the US. Once you land in the US, your Rayo Debit card allows you unlimited ATM transactions with no pesky ATM fees. Rayo will soon offer you the ability to apply for a credit card, a personal loan and/or set up an investment account. What’s more, if you become a Founding Member, you get additional benefits such as early access to the Rayo App, dedicated Customer Support, a special edition Rayo Debit card and fee-free money transfers and remittance to home countries, for life! Besides these banking features, we also provide solutions such as free data on your arrival, expert relocation service and access to our immigrant Help Center and Knowledge Base, to help make your transition seamless.

Banking may not be the most exciting part of your relocation, but it is the first step to achieving everything you want in the US. With Rayo, you can expect complete fairness and transparency in everything we offer– ease of set up and use, world class customer service and fast money transfers with great rates. Say goodbye to long lines, costly transactions and hidden FX fees! We’re here to assist you at every stage of your journey, in banking and beyond.




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