How to Easily Open a US Bank Account as a Tourist (to be linked to a US PayPal Account) and Get USD

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It is currently not possible to link your local foreign currency bank account to a locally made PayPal account – i.e., if your PayPal account made in the Philippines has received funds other than Philippine Peso, you can only link it to a Philippines Peso bank account and receive Philippine Pesos. Many freelancers prefer to receive funds from PayPal in the original currency such as US Dollar to avoid huge foreign conversion fees, or for convenience in my case as a tourist who stayed long-term in the US. Currently the only way to receive USD from PayPal for non-US residents is through 2 steps:

 

  1. Create a PayPal account from the US (by being there, or possibly with a VPN.)
  2. Then personally open a bank account in the United States

 

Apart from being a valid ID, the NYC ID that you can get for free has perks like discounts at museums!
Back when I lived in Manhattan. Apart from being a valid ID, the NYC ID that you can get for free has perks like discounts at museums! You need your passport and a proof of billing (like bank statements) to get one. I got mine after opening my bank account.

 

Most US banks require a proof of address such as credit card statements or utility bills, in addition to valid IDs, in order to open a bank account. Fortunately for tourists, there are a couple of banks who only require two valid IDs such as: a foreign passport, city ID or a credit card (Yes, apparently a credit card is considered a valid ID in the US) with a valid address in the US (mine was my AirBnB). The valid address is needed so that the bank can mail you your ATM card and other documents after about a week, although it might be possible to inform the bank staff that you prefer to pick up your ATM from the same or another branch where you opened your account. Two of these banks that do not require a proof of address are Citibank and Santander Bank. I chose to open an account with Santander instead in New York City because Citi had a higher maintaining balance of USD 1,500 while Santander has a certain account type that’s more flexible and their online banking is quite user-friendly too.

 

Important: Banks require an intent to stay in the US for a long period of time when opening an account as a tourist or visitor. 

 

Once you have received your debit card and/or passbook and linked your PayPal, you can now withdraw all the cash you need from ATMs (usually in $20 bills) or from your bank (for bigger bills)!

If you intend to open a bank account in the US, or Guam, first you need to get a US Visa (if you don’t have on yet.)

Here’s how I got mine (Parts 1-7).

 

The United States Capitol in Washington DC. Photo by TheTravelGuyShops.
The United States Capitol in Washington DC. Photo by TheTravelGuyShops.

 

D.U.M.B.O. (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), not the Disney elephant, in Brooklyn NYC. Photo by TheTravelGuyShops.
D.U.M.B.O. (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), not the Disney elephant, in Brooklyn NYC. Photo by TheTravelGuyShops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi! I'm Kevin, a published travel writer, and this is my travel blog about first and business class flights, airport lounges, shopping, visa information and local travel credit cards for mileage programs. In 2017, I fulfilled my personal goal of visiting over 30 countries before I turned 30 years old and I would be more than glad to help you achieve your own #travelgoals too. ;)

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