Banking and Finance in the US

Managing your finances while in the US

We recommend that you set up a checking account in an American bank in order to avoid high fees and increased difficulty when performing activities such as withdrawing money, using your credit or debit card, and depositing money.

If you are transferring a large amount of money when setting up a checking account, it is often best to do this by arranging a wire transfer. We do not recommend bringing a large amount of cash with you because it is not safe and, generally, you will not receive a good exchange rate when exchanging in American banks. To receive the best exchange rate, exchange your cash into US currency at an airport.

Local Banks

The local banks listed below are not endorsed or recommended by IHOPU or IHOPKC. The list is for informational purposes only, and the following details are subject to change. Please contact the banks directly for more information.

Security Bank | View website »

Located across the street from the Global Prayer Room.

Requirements to open a personal checking account:

  • Two forms of ID: passport and photo visa (in your passport)
  • Proof of local address
  • Foreign address
  • $100.00 initial deposit

Account features:

  • Free VISA® debit card or ATM card
  • Free online banking and online bill pay
  • Automated Teller Machine available ($5 surcharge for non-account holders)
  • No monthly service charge
  • Unlimited check writing

Commerce Bank | View website »

Located next to IHOPU.

Requirements to open a personal checking account:

  • Two forms of ID: IHOPU student ID and a US issued ID (US driver’s license, Missouri state ID, passport or US photo visa)
  • $100.00 initial deposit

Account features:

  • No monthly service charge unless you make a paper transaction or receive a paper statement
  • Free VISA® check card (debit card)
  • Free online banking and online bill pay
  • First box of checks free
  • Automated Teller Machine available 8am–5pm

Bank of America | View website »

10731 State Line Rd., Kansas City, MO 64114

Requirements to open a personal checking account:

  • Two forms of ID: passport and student ID
  • $25 deposit
  • Student verification letter from IHOPU

Account features:

  • Free checking account for students aged 22 and under
  • $16 wire transfer fee

Bank Midwest | View website »

Located close to IHOPU.

Requirements to open a personal checking account:

  • Two forms of ID: IHOPU student ID and passport
  • No minimum opening deposit

Account features:

  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly service charge
  • Free VISA® debit card
  • Free online banking/bill pay
  • Unlimited check writing

Writing a Check

If you decide to open a checking account while in Kansas City, the bank will probably offer you the option of a checkbook. Checks work in a similar way to withdrawing cash directly out of your checking account. At a store, you can write a check, instead of paying with cash or a debit card, for up to the amount you have in your account. For example, if you have $100.00 USD in your account, you can write a check for up to $100.00 USD. If you write it for more, the store will refuse to accept it, or the store will accept it but your bank will charge you a high fee. Writing a check for more than what you have in your account is called an “overdraft” or “bouncing” a check.

The following is an example of a blank check:

Blank Check with False Numbers

When writing a check, remember to include these items:

  1. Date: Write in the date of the check in standard month/day/year format, or write it out, e.g., July 15, 2014.
  2. Pay to the order of: Fill in the name of the person, business, or organization you are paying.
  3. Dollar amount: Write the full amount in standard dollars and cents format in the dollar box, e.g., “100.00”.
  4. Amount ($): Spell out the full amount of the check (e.g., “one hundred dollars”) and draw a line to fill in space if needed. This line keeps anyone from altering the amount of your check.
  5. Signature: Sign your name on the bottom right line. Without your signature, the check is invalid.
  6. Memo: Write the purpose of the check, such as “July rent” or “June cell phone,” for reference.

US currency

US currency or money is based on a decimal system, with one dollar ($1 or $1.00) equal to one hundred cents.

Coin currency is comprised of amounts less than one dollar. “Change” refers to coins, but also refers to the difference between what you pay and what you are owed when making a purchase. For example, if you owe $15.50 at the grocery store, and you give the cashier $20.00, your “change” is $4.50.

Coin currency is circulated in the amounts of $.01 (a penny), $.05 (a nickel), $.10 (a dime), $.25 (a quarter), and $.50 (a half dollar).


US paper currency is circulated in the amounts of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. When talking about the cost of an item, paper currency is sometimes referred to by the slang term “bucks,” so $50 may be referred to as “fifty bucks.”