Finances

Finances
Money

The basic unit of currency in the United States is the dollar. All paper currency is the same size and color, with different denominations ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100). Coins make up denominations smaller than the dollar ($.01, penny; $.05, nickel; $.10, dime; $.25, quarter). It is neither practical nor safe to carry large amounts of cash.

Banking

Each bank in the Hartford area has its own policies on the types of accounts offered, service charges, minimum balance requirements and interest yields.  For most students, the important thing to consider is convenience. You may wish to choose a particular bank because it has a convenient location, good business hours, provide Automatic Teller Service (ATM) or because it offers the type of account most suitable for your needs.

The bank closest to the law school campus is: Bank of America, 70 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105. Hours: Monday-Wednesday: 9:00-4:00; Thursday: 9:00-6:00; Friday: 9:00-400; Saturday& Sunday: closed.

To open an account, you will need to provide identification to the bank. Be sure to bring your passport, immigration papers, and other forms of identification (such as a letter of introduction from the Law School, apartment lease or student ID). Make certain you understand the type of account you are opening and its terms and/or conditions. You should also discuss with the bank representative the policies regarding deposit of foreign currency and/or checks, including processing fees and the time from for transacting the deposit. 

Checking Account: You will receive (at a small cost) a supply of checks, imprinted with your name and address.

  • You can use checks to pay bills, and make purchases (provided you have two acceptable forms of ID – one of which often must be a credit card).
  • The bank may charge a service fee for each check that is written or a monthly service fee, or limit the number of checks you can write each month without charge. 
  • Some banks will waive fees if you agree to keep a minimum balance in your account.
  • If you overdraw (or your check “bounces”) you will be charged a fee by the bank and often by the institution to whom you wrote the check. Numerous overdraws reflect poorly on your credit rating. 
  • Every month, your bank will mail you a statement listing all deposits and withdrawals you have made during the previous month. 

Savings Account: This type of account does not normally come with checks, but it is useful if you have a large sum of money you will not need to withdraw from regularly because it pays interest. As you make deposits and withdrawals on this account you should record all transactions in your bankbook to avoid overdrawing. International students may not be able to open a savings account (or any other type of interest bearing account) if they do not have a SSN. In addition, international students who open an interest-bearing checking account or savings account may be required to file an IRS form W-8BEN with the bank that is related to taxation and interest earned on the accounts. Please direct any questions you have on this form to the bank.

Automatic Teller Machines (“ATM”): Most banks offer ATM service. This service allows you to make withdrawals and deposits, and check your current bank balance during non-banking hours by use of a computer located on the outside of the bank building. The service is available for both checking and savings accounts.

The bank issues you a plastic card with a personal identification number (PIN) that you choose. DO NOT reveal this number to anyone else. Most ATM cards can be used at banking institutions other than the one with which you have an account. However, you usually will be charged a transaction fee for using another bank’s machine. Make sure you understand your bank’s policies on the use of ATM’s. There is an ATM machine located in the Thomas J. Meskill Law Library.

Travelers Checks: Travelers checks are issued by a bank for a fee (usually $1 for every $100 worth of checks). You will be required to sign each check at the bank to insure that it is your signature on the check. They are accepted almost everywhere if you can provide an acceptable form of identification (passport, license) and you countersign in the presence of the person accepting the check. If lost or stolen, they can be replaced.

Money Orders: Since it is not advisable to send cash through the mail, many banks (an most post offices) offer money order service. For a slight fee, the bank will issue you a draft check for your cash. This service is useful for individuals who do not have checking accounts.