Money and Banking

You don't necessarily need to open a bank account in the US, but having a US bank account would save you money in withdrawals and payments. Many international banks charge customers a fee every time money is withdrawn in a foreign country or even every time a credit or debit card is used.

In the US, savings and checking account plans vary a great deal depending on the bank. It is a good idea to check out several different banks and credit unions before making a decision about which is the best for you.

Here is a list of things to consider when making a decision about opening a bank account:

  • Fees associated with obtaining and using an automatic teller card (ATM card), which may also be called a debit card.
  • The minimum account balance required to avoid service charges
  • Amount of service charge if the minimum balance is not maintained
  • Monthly or yearly service charge for checking account
  • Fee for each check written
  • Interest rates for checking and savings accounts
  • Penalty for insufficient funds (when a check “bounces”)
  • Fees for wire or electronic transfer of funds from your home country
  • Fees for transferring funds between savings and checking accounts by phone or through the internet
  • Certificate of deposit interest rates (May be something to look into if you have money you know you will not need for six months or a year.)

When using a personal check to pay for goods in a retail store, you will often need to show some form of identification such as your Wisconsin Driver’s License or Wisconsin ID. Not every store or business will accept personal checks as a form of payment. The chart below lists a few bank options in Madison that are relatively close to Edgewood. To open an account, visit the bank of your choice and bring the documents required to open an account.

UW Credit Union
1435 Monroe Street Madison, WI 53711 Tel: 608-232-5000. Passport and I-20 or DS-2019 are required to open account
NOTE: Process to open account will take about 30 minutes.
Checking with no minimum balance but must start account with $55, FREE debit card with unlimited ATM transactions with no fees. NOTE: Must also open a savings account with a minimum balance of $5

Associated Bank
1720 Monroe Street Madison, WI 53711 Tel: 608-259-2000. Passport and identification card are required to open account. NOTE: Process to open account will take about 30-45 minutes.
Student Advantage Checking: No minimum balance, minimum opening deposit of $100, Free debit card, Unlimited free ATM access at Associated Bank ATMs. NOTE: must pay three online bills or deposit of $500 a month to keep the account.  

Chase Bank
Capitol Madison, 22 E Mifflin St. Madison, WI 53703 Tel: (608) 282-6020. Passport and I-20 or DS-2019, and Address Verification which can be obtained from an official bill such as your fall tuition bill or by visiting the Residence Life office on campus.
Checking with no monthly fee or minimum balance, no ATM service charges when using Cahse Bank ATMs.  

Edgewood Financial Literacy Services
For more assistance we encourage you to contact Edgewood’s Financial Literacy Services Office. Utilize this free service to learn more about U.S. Banking and making wise consumer choices while studying abroad. Financial Literacy Services staff have assisted many international students with car purchases, lease agreement questions, inexpensive travel tips, budgeting, credit and general banking questions.


Katie Sprunger
Assistant Director of Financial Aid and Edgewood Central