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Opening a Bank Account in California, US (December 2022)

Updated: Jan 2

Dr. Mercy Otieno, Ph.D. Economics and Finance

© International Foundation for World Freedom





A bank account is essential in this country. One can get a bank account through credit unions or other banks. These are the things that you need for you to open a personal checking bank account.

• Documents showing proof of your identity- passport, birth certificate, asylum documents can be used in this case.

  • Proof of address – utility bills or leases can be used as proof of address

  • Identification number – As an Asylee or refugee you are eligible for a Social Security number.

Below are some of the best banks and credit unions in California. By best, it implies they have a wide Geographical coverage (branches and ATMs), has low or zero account opening and operation fees, allow one to open an account with zero fees, and allow one to open an account online. First, for all these banks you will need an appointment to open a bank account at the branch. All you are required to do is to call the bank branch near you and book an appointment.


The list is as follows:

1. Discover – No minimum balance and fees.

2. Alliant Credit Union- No minimum balance and fees.

3. Chase Bank- Charges monthly fees unless you deposit a minimum of $1,500 monthly. 4. Varo Bank- No minimum balance no monthly fees 5. Ally Bank- No minimum fees, no monthly fees. 6. Capitol One – No monthly fees and minimum balance charges 7. Golden 1 Credit Union- No minimum deposit is required and no monthly fees.

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