How much money should you bring and in what form (cash, check, etc)? Check What to Bring for suggestions on the amount of cash to carry with you to get you started.
U.S. currency is based on the decimal system, with 100 cents in each dollar. Metal coins include pennies ($.01), nickels ($.05), dimes ($.10), quarters ($.25), and occasionally a half dollar ($.50).
Paper currency is usually in $1, $5, $10, and $20 denominations. Bills of $2, $50, and $100 are less common. Exchange rates vary over time. Visit www.xe.com/ucc for an international currency converter, one of many on-line currency conversion links, or check with a bank handling international exchanges for an updated list of these rates of exchange. If you will be traveling through several countries on your way to the United States, having such a list could be very helpful.
Once you arrive in Clinton, representatives from a local bank will be available during orientation to assist you in setting up a checking account. It takes about one week to transfer funds and to have your personal checks printed for your use. Bring a check payable in U.S. currency to deposit in the bank. If you bring a check in currency other than U.S. dollars, you will have to wait much longer to begin writing checks or drawing out money. The banks charge a fairly large fee for cashing checks of foreign currency and the process takes time. Alternatively, you may wish to use traveler's checks for your initial deposit.
Before your departure, try to make arrangements with a bank in your country so that you can deposit money there and then have the bank transfer the funds to your account here. To transfer funds, you should go to the local bank in your country and ask them to transfer through their branch in New York City the amount of money you wish to put in your account. In turn, the New York branch of your bank will transfer your money to the bank in Clinton. (Your bank will most likely charge a nominal fee for this service.) You might also consider having funds transferred to an account in Clinton before you arrive so that you will have access to the money immediately. The bank in Clinton is: NBT Kirkland Avenue Clinton, New York, 13323, Phone: 315-853-5501, web: www.nbtbank.com.
If you have an ATM card at home, check to see if your bank is part of an international network such as Cirrus or Plus. If so, you can check with NBT to see if your card will work here. You may be able to use it to make a withdrawal in order to open your new account.
When you are ready to open your bank account, be sure to take all your immigration documents with you. The bank will want to see your passport, visa, and I-20 in order to open your account.
If you will be working on campus, consider having your paychecks directly deposited in your local bank account. You may find that having direct deposit and then using an ATM or debit card for withdrawals is easier and more efficient than relying on cashing your check.