Bank Accounts

LA has plenty of local and national banks, as well as a few international institutions. Those banks with multiple branches include Washington Mutual, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Downey Savings & Loan. Look for a bank that offers conveniences such as online banking, ATMs that are part of a larger network, and extended banking hours. It’s advisable to choose a bank that is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Nearly all banks provide the same basic account options, including checking (current) and savings accounts. Some banks also offer ‘Christmas’ accounts where you set aside a certain amount to be spent on shopping during the holiday season. Most banks require a minimum monthly balance to avoid paying a penalty fee, and most offer overdraft protection. Even with overdraft protection, you’ll likely pay a fee of around $10 to $25 to the bank for bouncing a cheque. In order to open a bank account you’ll need two forms of identification. For US citizens it would be a driver’s licence and social security card; for non-citizens, a passport and foreign licence is required along with another form of ID showing the person’s name. A residence visa is not necessarily needed. US citizens can open an account online with most banks, while non-citizens must apply in person at a local branch. Most banks also have custodial savings accounts where the custodian, usually a parent or guardian, controls the account for the benefit of a minor.

Banks are open Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 18:00, and until 16:00 on Saturdays (some banks close earlier on Saturdays). Banks are becoming more competitive, so it pays to shop around.

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