I am travelling to the US on vacation. I would like to open a bank account, probably a free checking account so that I can purchase tickets & rent hotels online.
How do I go about this? Is it easy to open a free checking account in the US?
OK, here's the deal. Through TD Bank you can open an account very easily in the US. You don't need a SSN. If you maintain a $100 minimum balance, there's no charge on the account. I didn't have a pleasant experience with Walmart or Bluebird, their customer service is clueless.
The TD Bank customer care is awesome. You can always get connected to a real human customer care representative without through jumping loops. It's open on 7 days a week. It's a real banking account so all the positives that come with it.
The only problem is they are an East Coast bank with no branches elsewhere, so unless you happen to be on the East Coast you might not be able to open an account.
This was actually asked a while back on Money.SE. I'll summarise the accepted answer there:
Basically, it depends. Not all banks will allow you to open one as a foreigner, and you'll still need supporting documentation - passport, proof of residential address back home, and so on. Some, however, may require a US address, or proof of visa or residence status, at which point you'll have problems.
Have a read of the other answers on there, and it may give you an idea of what to expect.
You can always put money on a reloadable bank card. It's what most cash-workers do here in the states to avoid having to carry around large sums of cash, while still not having to open a bank account and possibly be audited for not reporting taxable wages.
Stop by one of thousands of Walmart locations, cash in hand, and they'll have you set up in 20 minutes.