Opening a free checking account in the USA for foreigners
It is convenient to be able to pay with a debit card in grocery stores and restaurants, so you will spend what you have in your bank account, instead of adding credit to your credit card (if you have one).
Most banks in the US ask a monthly fee for a checking account, that you can get rid off if you leave $1500 dollar in the account, or have your wages payed into the account. Online bank accounts are free but require that you are a US citizen.
Another option is a local bank, instead of a nation wide bank. They have offices in certain areas of the country where you need to go personally to open a account. Some of them do not charge any fee, like BBVA Compass. You can use it when you are in the US without needing to pay when you are outside of the US and not using the account.
BBVA Compass says they do not invest in weapons and other sketchy money making business, unlike most other major banks in the US do. They have locations in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas. They have offices in Europe, as BBVA started in Spain. They don’t charge you for drawing money from your US checking account at BBVA ATMs accross the globe (mainly Spain).
Opening an account at BBVA Compass
They will just ask you 20 questions for their procedure and they will send a tax form to your home address that you will need to complete.
Deposit cash to your bank account
If you want to add cash to the bank account, you need to go to a BBVA Compass branch location where you can either use the ATM (24/7) or inside the bank during office hours.
There is an option to add cash to your paypal account at certain locations of CVS, 7 Eleven and Rite Aid, but you will need an American paypal account that has been confirmed with a tax ID number. (You can request a tax ID number when you are in the US without needing to be a US citizen.) From your Paypal account, you can transfer the money to your bank account.
Read these articles about other alternatives to opening a US bank account.
Free European bank account
Another option is to open a free bank account at N26, a German online bank. They offer a free debit Mastercard and have low charges on withdrawals, payments and service costs.
Transferring currencies with TransferWise
You can use TransferWise to send money in different currencies without high fees. You can even setup a Borderless account so that you have bank details in different countries without needing to going to a bank.
Interested in really innovative banking? Read about ‘The bank of joy’ in The Netherlands.
Cool social bank in the Netherlands
For people in the Netherlands, Germany and Austria: Bunq, the social bank. You can create multiple free bank accounts and even share your bank account with others, or give people a budget on your bank account.