Currency and Banking

Keeping your finances in order while studying in the United States is an important responsibility for each student. If possible, you should either open a bank account in Boston before you arrive or bring funds with you in a form that local banks will allow you to use immediately (such as travelers checks in U.S. dollars).

If you open a bank account using a personal check drawn from a financial institution that is not located in Massachusetts, local banks will require you to wait a week or more before you can withdraw money from the account. If your check is not in U.S. dollars, you will have to wait even longer before you can use your money. Banks do this to allow time to make certain that the check will be honored by the bank on which the check was written. Please do not travel with large sums of cash as it is not safe.


To open a bank account, you will generally need to provide identification materials such as passport and visa documents, proof of enrollment at Boston University, and a Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). For information on how to apply for a Social Security number or an ITIN, please contact the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) at or 617-353-3565 upon arrival to Boston University.

There are two types of accounts that you may open:

  • Checking accounts allow for easy access to your money to pay bills and make purchases. Most banks charge a monthly fee for a checking account. When opening a checking account, make sure to compare banks and ask about fees. It is often possible to negotiate for lower fees. Also make sure to inquire about the locations of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
  • Savings accounts allow you to save your money and earn interest. Again, be sure to compare interest rates, fees, and rules regarding minimum balances at different banking institutions.

There are many banks in the Boston area that are well known and that have branches on or near the BU campus. Many offer special services for students.

Citizens Bank
560 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215 USA
Bank of America
771 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215 USA
880 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215 USA

Currency Exchange

Currency exchange offices are located at Logan Airport, as well as at many large banks. American Express Travel Agency also provides currency exchange services at the following locations:

One State Street
Ground Level
Boston, MA 02109
39 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138