Citibank has a long standing relationship with Columbia University. Citibank requires that you show "proof of foreign status" (a visa/I-94 from your passport); a valid ID (such as your passport); and proof of a U.S. address (such as a piece of mail). It's not necessary to have a Social Security number.

In order to open you bank account you will need to present a document from the ISSO to the manager of your new account at Citibank. Just go to the ISSO office, tell them you want to open a bank account and the bank requested a document signed by them, it won't take much time and they know exactly which form to give you.

The closest Citibank branch is ;

Broadway & 111th St
2861 Broadway
New York, NY 10025

Some Banking 'Definitions'


Unlike many other countries, most Americans use personal checks as payment. You can set up a checking account at your bank. You will get a statement at the end of each month, which lists all your transactions as well as service charges, interest earned and your balance.

You can obtain an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) card when you open up your bank account. This is convenient as you will be able to make transactions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As you set up your bank account, you will decide upon a PIN (personal identification number) and will use this number for all your bank transactions. The PIN is confidential, so be careful with it. You will receive the actual ATM card in the mail within a week or so of setting up your account. The ISSO can provide you with a letter to verify your status as a student that will help you to set up your account. Although you will be asked for it, you do NOT require a Social Security number to open a bank account.

Many ATM cards can also be used as a debit card, which means that you can use the card, in lieu of cash, to pay for things with the money being subtracted from your account.

As most international students have not lived in the U.S. for very long they will not have the required credit history to qualify for a credit card. If you have a credit card from home that you can use, bring it! Don’t assume you will be able to get one quickly when you arrive in the U.S. This can be quite inconvenient, as you are getting started here. High deposits may be asked for in order to get things like a mobile phone. Here are some strategies on establishing a credit history:
  1. Apply for a charge card at department stores
  2. Apply for a regular student credit card that has a low credit limit. Often there are representatives signing students up around campus the first two weeks. Check out Commerce Bank, American Express, Citibank, and Chase. The last two banks are in the neighborhood and you can speak with someone personally.
  3. Pay your bills on time!