English vocabulary for banking transactions

International students coming to the US often need to open a bank account to settle down, which can feel unfamiliar with some familiar concepts.

When opening a bank account, you can open a regular account (a checking account) and a savings account (a savings account). Usually you will put money (deposit) into your account when you receive your salary. If you want to save, you can transfer the money to a savings account.

You use an ATM to withdraw money (withdraw) or with larger amounts, go to the bank to request a withdrawal. In the US, many people buy and sell and spend with credit cards. Credit cards allow you to spend money first, pay later. If you do not pay on time, you will be charged a very high interest rate. Therefore, when using credit cards, you must be very careful.

When using banking services, you should also pay attention to fees. Some types of bank fees are: monthly maintenance fee, fee incurred when you pay other expenses over the limit you have in your account (overdraft fee), ATM fee outside the bank’s system ATM fee (out-of-network ATM fee), fee to receive your checkbook (check fee)…
As an international student, one of the first steps to settling into life in the US is opening a bank account. Universities can invite banks to guide you or refer you to the nearest bank to make this first transaction.

Normally, international students need the following documents to open an account: Passport with visa printed in passport (passport with visa); Form I-20 sent by school (I-20 form); The address (usually a letter from the school) to prove you are living in the US (proof of residency); Enrollment verification letter from the school; birth certificate (birth certificate); Driver’s license. If you lack documents, you can ask the international department of the school for assistance.

In addition, many banks require you to put down a small amount (minimum opening deposit) to open an account.

When going to trade, you should be confident and speak your information clearly. When something is not clear, you can ask. Commonly used sentences in this situation are:

  • Could you explain this question on the form please? (Can you explain the question on this form?).
  • Sorry, I don’t understand this question.
  • Could you explain again? (Can you explain it again?).
  • I’m new here, so could you speak more slowly please? (I’m new here so can you speak a little slower?).

Many people judge your language ability by your confidence, not by whether you use correct grammar or not. Usually bankers in the US are used to dealing with people from all over the world, so don’t be shy as they will be happy to help you.

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