How to open a US business bank account from Singapore
- •The benefits of opening a US business bank account from Singapore
- •The fees you can expect to pay on a US bank account
- •Requirements for setting up a corporate bank account in the US
- •The two big hurdles to opening a US bank account as a non-resident
- •Can I open a US bank account online?
- •Some banks allow what’s known as an International Account
- •A simpler alternative – an Airwallex USD Global Account is your ticket to banking in the US
- •Ready to see where an Airwallex Global Account can take you?
We’ll be honest: whether you’re a business or an individual, it can be a challenge to open a bank account in the US from Singapore, particularly not without a flight across the globe to do so in person.
But it’s possible.
The benefits of opening a US business bank account from Singapore
Opening a US business bank account opens doors to one of the largest free markets in the world. You’ll be able to sell within the US, easily get paid in USD, (a huge selling point for American customers), whilst also avoiding the fees you’d otherwise pay as an international business. You can link your US account to your online sales platforms such as Amazon US, and link it to your PayPal and Shopify accounts so you can withdraw your profit. This means spending less on FX conversion fees and keeping more of your profit for yourself.
You can even connect the US bank account to your virtual cards, which then allows you to pay for software subscriptions in USD and avoid exchange fees.
The fees you can expect to pay on a US bank account
When you open a US bank account, you can enjoy the luxury of not paying foreign transfer fees on every payment you receive.
But it’s still a bank account, so there are other fees you’ve got to consider.
Monthly fees. Some US banks will charge you a monthly fee just to have an account with them. These can range from $0 to $12 or more per month. Some banks will waive these fees if you keep a minimum threshold amount in your account.
ATM fees. Many US banks also still charge ATM fees. These include fees for using the ATM of a different banking provider. These can vary, ranging from low, to $2.50, to $5 or more per transaction
Teller fees. As technology evolves, banks are encouraging their customers to do their day-to-day banking online wherever possible. So, some banks have started charging a fee to interact with a real-life, flesh-and-blood bank teller. This is usually around $3-$5 for daily transactions, with international transactions incurring their own set of fees.
International transfer fees. International transfer fees in America can vary wildly, starting at approximately $15 and going up to as high as $45 per individual transfer.
Account closure fees. Not all banks do this, but you may be charged a fee for closing your account with a US bank. This is typically charged when you close it within a short timeframe, such as 90 or 180 days. The average fee is $25, but some banks can charge up to $50.
Annual card fees. Much the same as your Singapore card, US card fees are a moving target. Some US card products offer low fees, but with a higher interest rate; others charge a flat annual fee; and some are ‘premium’ cards with higher fees, but rewards point offers.
Poor FX rates when transferring money. When dealing with a US bank, you’ll likely encounter poor FX rates when transferring money from your US account to.
But the challenge for most is opening a US bank account as a non-resident in the first place.
Requirements for setting up a corporate bank account in the US
To open a US business bank account, you need to be able to prove your identity and address.
Standard requirements to open a US bank account:
Photo ID of the business director opening the account - in this case, you.
Documents to prove your business' incorporation.
Your business licence.
Confirmation of your EIN. You can read how to get one here.
Proof of your business' US address.
To prove your address, you can use:
Proof of address from a US employer, a university, etc., such as a payslip or official letter.
There are also alternatives for identification, such as ITIN, foreign passport, or a driver’s license. However, it is important to check the requirements needed for as it varies across banks.
The two big hurdles to opening a US bank account as a non-resident
Here’s the thing. A US bank needs to check that you’re a US resident to open a bank account—so you need the documentation to prove it.
The reason that it’s so hard to open a US bank account as a non-resident harks back to the 2001 Patriot Act that changed the US banking landscape. Provisions were added to the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act that made it a requirement for banks to collect and verify personal information for customers opening a bank account.
These are the two key pieces of information you need to prove your legitimacy.
A Social Security Number
To get a Social Security Number you first need to be eligible to live in the US. You’ll need evidence of a visa or immigration documents to prove it.
2. A US address
You need to prove to your bank that you’re actively working and living in America. A US postbox address isn’t going to cut it—you need a physical address.
They can enforce this by requesting actual evidence of your address, such as a utility bill or lease agreement.
Can I open a US bank account online?
In short, yes, you can open a US bank account online—but only if you have a US address. If you don’t have this proof of address, it can become quite difficult to open a US bank account from SG. The Bank of America requires one to first be eligible and submit verification documents before opening an account.
Some banks allow what’s known as an International Account
This type of account is a rare phenomenon that’s being offered by some US banks to foreigners. It allows you to open a US bank account without having to be in the country.
But while this may be a glimmer of hope, they typically have exorbitantly high fees, and often require a big initial deposit and minimum account threshold. And we mean really big, often in the realm of US$150,000.
So, in many cases, it’s often not even a feasible option to consider.
While it can be a disheartening process, with lots of confusing documentation and hoops to jump through, there is an alternative that allows you to open a US bank account online, from Singapore, as a non-resident.
A simpler alternative – an Airwallex USD Global Account is your ticket to banking in the US
We make it easy for you to reach the US market with a USD Global Account. There’s no need to visit a bank branch in the US, no need to supply a US address, and you can use your existing Singaporean IDs. You’re able to open your Airwallex Global Account online, without even leaving your home.
Then, when you open a USD Foreign Currency Account you get issued a US account number. This number allows you to receive, hold and send USD without the need to fork out exchange fees.
In fact, there are no fees at all. No sign-up fees, no monthly account fees, no card annual fees, and absolutely no fees just to speak to a real-life human.
You can keep all your financials and bookkeeping on one spot, too, as you can link it directly to your Xero account, so all your transaction information is logged automatically.
Ready to see where an Airwallex Global Account can take you?
Book an online demo with us today to find out how a USD Global Account can help make it easy to expand your business to the US.
Joe Romeo is responsible for scaling our Airwallex's product adoption in the UK and the world. An all-around growth enthusiast, Joe's speciality lies in SEO, organic acquisition and making lasagna.
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