If you have a card from your home country, check with your bank to see if it works in the American ATM machines (most American banks are compatible with this system) as this is an efficient way to get cash. If you intend to stay for a while in the U.S., you should probably still opt for an American account and ATM card as well, as this will probably reduce your transaction costs.
If you lose your ATM or Credit card, notify your bank as quickly as possible. You should never give out your PIN number, as this could allow anybody to withdraw money from your account.
In the United Sates you can use your credit card just about everywhere, from groceries to small restaurants. As elsewhere, the most common cards in the U.S. are MasterCard, Visa and American Express. Check the door of a shop for a sticker showing which credit cards are accepted or ask. If you have a PIN for your credit card, you can use it to withdraw money from ATMs, but watch out for the charges as these can be high.
Most credit card companies don’t charge an annual fee. When choosing, look at several banks or department stores to find out which credit card is most suited to you. Some banks do not readily issue credit cards to recently arrived foreigners. And remember in order to have a credit card in the United States you will need a valid Social Security number.
Debit (ATM) cards
Most of the ATM cards have a Visa or a MasterCard logo which means that you can use them as a regular credit card. The difference is that the money will come out of your checking account immediately. This makes the ATM cards very useful and popular.
After opening a bank account, you will receive a Debit (ATM) card with a corresponding PIN (usually a secret 4-digit number). This card allows you to withdraw cash from most cash machines in the U.S. Withdrawals from machines from your own bank or associated institutions are free, while cash machines from other institutions will charge you a fee (usually between $2 and $4). Make sure you find out from your bank how much this transaction would cost.
You can also print bank account statements from machines at your bank branches by using the ATM card. All transactions are listed on these statements. Money transferred into the account are credits. Money transferred from the account are debits.