Whether you are a seasonal visitor to the United States, a student, or a professional living and working here, chances are you would benefit from help navigating the American banking system.
There are many differences between the way you can manage finances at home and the banking methods observed here in U.S. We want to make sure you fully understand those differences so you can enjoy easy, stress-free U.S. banking.
As you become acclimated with daily banking activities in the United States, there are several distinctions that, unless you're aware of them, can cause unnecessary stress and heartache.
The following are some of the most important:
Post-dated checks are not honored in the U.S.
If you post-date a check and the party to whom you wrote it deposits it earlier than you had intended, the check will clear and the amount will be deducted from your account.
Utility bills cannot be paid through banking offices, telephone banking, or ATMs.
Utility bills can be paid via check, credit or debit card, or online bill pay services directly to the utility company.
Account balances are not shown in 'real-time'.
U.S. bank accounts display two balance types. The ledger balance is calculated at the end of each business day. Deposits made prior to banking center or ATM cutoff times, as well as checks clearing, are included in this balance. Overdraft fees are calculated using this balance.
The available balance reflects the amount of money in your account actually available for use. The available balance may be lower than your ledger balance as check items in your deposit may not have cleared. Debit card transactions that haven't cleared yet will reduce your available balance but many times not for the exact amount. Tips at restaurants, gas pump purchases, and hotel deposits or reservations are typically not accurately reflected until the entire transaction clears.
Overdraft protection lines are not automatically repaid.
While an overdraft protection line will automatically advance funds to cover overdrafts, you must call or use online banking to pay back the principal and interest in full.
Debit cards may authorize purchases causing you to overdraw.
This can occur due to overstated available balance based on checks or transaction holds that haven't cleared. An overdraft line of credit can help prevent this.