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Money and Banking

General Information

  • Americans usually do not carry much cash. Instead they may use a check or credit card to buy merchandise. To function efficiently in the U.S. economy, you will need to open a checking account at a local bank.
  • When selecting a bank, consider the services offered by each bank and what bank's location is most convenient. Keep in mind where the banking center is located as well as where ATM machines are located.
  • Most banks will ask for two pieces of identification, such as your passport, I-20 and Ohio State ID. Some banks may also require your Ohio State admission letter.
  • If you deposit a check from a foreign bank into your U.S. checking account, it may take several weeks before that money is credited to your bank account and is available to you (after the U.S. bank has collected the money from the foreign bank). You may want to consider having money wired to your account. This takes less time and is very safe. Talk with the bank about how to do this.
  • In countries with restrictions on foreign exchange, you may need to provide your sponsor or your family with your letter of admission initially, or a letter of certification of enrollment after arrival, in order to receive money from your home country.
  • Make sure that any bank with which you open an account is FDIC-insured, which means your money is insured up to $250,000.
  • You may be asked to show proof of identification when you pay for something with a check or get cash at your bank from a check. Forms of identification include: a driver's license, Ohio State BuckID, State of Ohio card, or credit card.
  • If you're unsure about selecting a bank account or setting up a personal budget, Scarlet & Gray Financial may be able to help. Part of the Student Wellness Center, Scarlet & Gray Financial provides free, confidential financial counseling for students covering topics such as budgeting, banking, credit education, financial goal-setting, savings planning, debt repayment and more. Learn more or schedule an appointment at the Scarlet & Gray Financial website.

Types of Services

Checking accounts

Banks offer different types of checking accounts designed to fit individual needs. The cost of having a checking account 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. Under some circumstances a bank will offer interest on a checking account. Your canceled checks and/or a list of all the account activity of the preceding month will be sent to you in a monthly statement. Be careful to keep an accurate record of every check you write in order to avoid having checks returned and incurring additional charges. "Bouncing" a check (writing a check for more money than you actually have in the account) can cause a major expense and a great deal of trouble. Through some banks, you can apply for a line of credit attached to your checking account that provides overdraft protection.

Savings Accounts

A savings account enables you to save money and accumulate interest on your savings. Interest is paid either monthly or quarterly. Although you can withdraw money from your savings account, this service is limited. Ask your bank for the number of monthly withdrawals permitted without penalty. The difference between a savings and a checking account is that you receive higher interest in a saving account, and you are allowed fewer transactions because the purpose is to "save your money".

Bank Cards


Many banks issue cards that make deposit and withdrawal services available 24 hours a day by use of an automated teller machine (ATM). These machines, which are frequently located outside the bank, are very convenient. You can avoid waiting in line at the bank and have access to cash after the bank closes or in an emergency. Banks that are members of a national ATM network allow you to access your funds with your bank card at selected ATMs throughout the country. However, there is often a service charge when you do not use your bank's machine.

A note of caution: When withdrawing cash from an ATM after dark, be aware of your surroundings to prevent an assault. Protect your bank card and your secret access code as you do your cash and credit cards. Call your bank if you have a problem with an ATM.

Credit Card

Credit cards are convenient, especially if you unexpectedly have major expenses. You will need to have a social security number to apply for a credit card. You can also pay medical fees, airplane tickets and car repairs with any major credit card. But you must remember that credit cards are seductive. Before you know it you may be in debt. Some banks may charge an annual fee for a credit card. If you are unable to pay your full balance, you will be charged high interest rates (possibly as high as 25% or more) on the remaining balance and any additional charges you make. Make sure you stay within your budget when making credit card purchases.

Debit Card

Debit cards can be used to make purchases at most places that accept credit cards. The difference is that instead of going to the credit card company and showing up on your credit card bill, it goes to the bank and the money is taken directly out of the checking account (like a check).

Banks and Credit Unions in the Ohio State Area

1698 N. High St.

Credit Union of Ohio
1652 Neil Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43210

Fifth Third Bank
OSU Hospital
450 W. 10th

US Bank
(inside the student union)
1739 N. High Street

Huntington Bank
University Banking Office
1928 N. High Street

1886 N. High Street