Banking in the US | Banking Terms | Handling Money | Currency Value

Banking in the United States

When you arrive in Corvallis, you may need to open a checking/and or savings account(s) with a bank. There are many banks in Corvallis. You can find which banks have local offices by looking in the Corvallis Phone Book (Type "Corvallis" and look in the "Finance" section). You can find out more information about the policies and procedures of each bank by looking at the bank's Web site. You usually will need two pieces of picture ID (passport and OSU ID card), your local mailing address, and money to open an account.

If you anticipate transferring money between your home country and your US bank account, you should discuss the processing time and fees associated with international wires and deposits.

Checking accounts are designed for paying bills and general living expenses, allowing unlimited deposits and withdrawals each month. When you open a checking account, you receive checks, deposit slips, and a transaction register. You can also request an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) card that will allow you to withdraw or deposit money at ATM terminals worldwide.

Savings accounts are designed to store money for long periods of time. Savings accounts often have a limit on the number of withdrawals that can be made each month. Money usually earns a small amount of interest.

Credit cards are a popular form of payment in the U.S.; the most widely accepted credit cards are Visa and Master Card. It is not easy for international students or scholars to obtain credit cards in the U.S. It is best to apply for a credit card in your home country. If you would like to take cash from your credit or debit account, you can use a Plus, Cirrus, Interlink, or Star Network bank card to make cash withdrawal. ATMs are located in the airport, on the OSU campus, and around Corvallis. NPA advice on getting a credit card and building credit history.

Transferring funds is also an option to get money to your bank account in the U.S. Before coming to the U.S., familiarize yourself with procedures for transferring funds from your home country. There are fees associated with this process and it takes some time so upon arrival be prepared to pay your initial expenses.

International wire transfer of funds can be an option for scholars and students to transfer tuition or bench fees (fee paid to work in some lab spaces) or other academic fees which go directly to the sponsoring department at OSU from an international personal bank account or scholarship provider. International students, please contact an international student advisor. International scholars, please contact an international scholar advisor.

Banking Terms

  • ATM: Automatic Teller Machines are machines where you can withdraw money from or deposit money into your account by using an ATM card. ATMs can be found in many convenient locations both in Corvallis and the State of Oregon as well as in many countries throughout the world.
  • Balance: The amount of money remaining in your account after adding all deposits made, and deducting all checks written and cash withdrawn from the ATM.
  • Bounced check: A check, which is returned because there is not enough money in your account. You may be required to pay a substantial fine for each bounced check.
  • Debit Card: A card that can be used at stores and businesses to pay for goods or services. The money is withdrawn from your checking account.
  • Deposit: Money added to your account.
  • Minimum balance: The smallest amount of money you must maintain in your account in order to receive certain benefits such as free checking service.
  • Overdraft: A charge to your account that exceeds the amount of your balance.
  • PIN: a Personal Identification Number is a number you must enter into ATM machines or phone services before you can have access to your account. The PIN is used as a safety measure to ensure that you are the only person to use your account.

Handling Money

For safety reasons, you should carry any large sums of money ($50 or more) in the form of draft checks or traveler's checks. However, plan to carry some money to get set up and for small items such as phone calls. Also your first salary payment or fund transfer may not be available for 6-8 weeks after you arrive.

You should come prepared to pay living expenses, bring enough money to cover initial expenses such as rent and utility (gas, electric and telephone) deposits and housing application fees. These deposits and the first month's rent may range from $1,000 to $1,500 and application fees are usually $30. There may also be expenses for household items to get first set up (furniture, kitchen equipment, etc.).

If you expect funds from your home country for your OSU program, ensure that satisfactory arrangements for payment are made before you depart. You should know your government's regulations on currency exchange and bank procedures for money transfers to the United States. Delays in the transfer of program funds can create hardship and inconvenience. Financial assistance for international scholars in the U.S. is not available and U.S. immigration regulations governing the employment of non-immigrant scholars and students are very strict.

For Students:

Before coming to the U.S., familiarize yourself with procedures for transferring funds from your home country. Upon arrival be prepared to pay your initial expenses for tuition, room and board, books, health insurance, and personal items. Banks and savings associations are located near the OSU campus. Shortly after your arrival, you will want to select a bank and open a checking or savings account.

Tuition and other educational expenses (such as fees, on-campus housing, and meal plans) are to be paid at the beginning of each term. (Please note that some departments have additional instructional fees.) If you have been awarded a graduate teaching or research assistantship or a tuition waiver, you still must pay student fees of approximately $500 at the beginning of each term. You should come prepared to pay living expenses, as your first salary payment may not be available for 6-8 weeks after you arrive.

United States Currency Value











Half-Dollar (rarely used)


Golden Dollar


Paper Bills: $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100