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Opening a Bank Account

Having a U.S. bank account is a great way to manage your finances while studying at the University of Hartford. Opening a bank account is not complicated. Many banks offer free checking to students. These accounts typically come with an ATM card or debit card, the ability to write checks, and the ability to access your account online to review the balance and transaction history.

Opening your Account

When you open an account, most banks will require two pieces of identification, such as your passport and University of Hartford ID card. Before you go to the bank, you need to be familiar with the basic customer identification programs that financial institutions must follow in opening any new accounts.

Bank Customer Identification Programs (CIP)

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. In compliance with federal regulations, all banks operating in the U.S. have established Customer Identification Programs (CIP) that they are to follow for anyone who seeks to open an account.

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your street address (P.O. Box)
  • An identification number

Establishing your Identity

  • A taxpayer identification number.
  • A passport number and country of issuance
  • An alien identification card number
  • Number and country of issuance of any other government-issued document showing nationality or residence and bearing a photograph or similar safeguard

Documentation to bring with you

Documents you should take with you to open your account include:

  • Your unexpired passport
  • Your I-94 Arrival Record
  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 Form
  • Any secondary form of identification you may have
  • Form W-8 BEN if you are not eligible for a SSN or ITIN.

Types of Accounts & Cards

Checking Accounts

Banks offer different types of checking accounts designed to fit individual needs. The cost of checking varies from bank to bank. Some banks charge per transaction, some have a basic monthly fee, and others offer free services if you maintain a certain minimum balance in your account at all times. You should be able to access information regarding your personal account, including all transactions and deposits, through the bank's website.

Debit Cards

A debit card, also known as a check card, allows you to withdraw or deposit money to your bank account using an automatic teller machine (ATM) and to make purchases at stores that accept the card. Debit cards are not credit cards.

Savings Accounts

A savings account enables you to save money and accumulate interest on your savings. Interest is paid either monthly or quarterly. The difference between a savings and a checking account is that you cannot write checks on a savings account.

Bank Cards

Many banks issue cards that enable you to deposit and withdraw money 24 hours a day by use of an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). These machines, frequently located outside the bank, are very convenient. By using a bank card, you can avoid waiting in line at the bank and can have access to money after the bank closes. Banks that are members of a national ATM network allow you to access your funds with your bank card at selected ATM’s throughout the country. There are many ATMs located on campus.

Credit Cards

Credit cards may be convenient, especially if you unexpectedly have major expenses. You can pay University and medical fees, airplane tickets and car repairs with any major credit card. You must understand that you can easily accumulate large bills with credit cards, and before you know it, you may be in debt. Before you accept a credit card, you must be sure to understand all your obligations. Most banks charge an annual fee. If you are unable to pay your full balance each month, you will be charged high interest rates (usually 18 percent or higher) on the remaining balance and any additional charges you make. Make sure you stay within your budget when making credit card purchases.

Bank Safety Tips

  • Do not share your checking card PIN number with anyone, not even with a close friend or relative. Your PIN number is the unique access code that you must enter whenever you purchase items for services or make transactions through an ATM machine. This code is private. Sharing it with another person could put your money at risk of being stolen.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash in your wallet or purse. Only carry enough cash that you may need for the day. Avoid "flashing" your cash in public. Use a checking (debit) card to make transactions, so as to avoid losing cash or getting robbed.
  • If your debit card or credit card is stolen, contact the bank and/or credit card company IMMEDIATELY to report the stolen card. You should notify them as soon as possible, in order to put a stop on any withdrawals from your card, and to help protect your identity. You should also contact the police right away to report any stolen items. 
  • Carry your purse, wallet, or backpack close to your body and keep a tight grip on it.
  • Do not carry your ID card and your checks in your wallet. It would be better to keep them separate (e.g. keep your id cards in your wallet in one pocket, and your checkbook in another pocket). If you lose your checkbook, contact your bank IMMEDIATELY so that no stranger or thief can access your money.
  • Do not write your PIN number down. Memorize it.
  • Make a list of all of your credit cards, checking account numbers, and identification cards. If anything gets stolen or lost, you should contact the police IMMEDIATELY and give them the list. You must also contact your bank IMMEDIATELY to prevent a thief from accessing your money.

Local banks in our area include:

Bank of America

836 Park Ave, Bloomfield, CT 06002


People's Bank

315 Cottage Grove Rd, Bloomfield, CT 06002


Windsor Federal

48 Jerome Ave, Bloomfield, CT 06002


Please note that the University does not recommend financial institutions to our students.