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BTW, are there any international students using a credit union here? I wonder if being an international student I can encounter any problems trying to use their services...

I don't think so. All 4 of my officemates are international students, and I know at least some of them bank with the same CU.

When I went in to open my account, they only wanted a picture ID. I'd forgotten my driver's license (I walked there) so I showed my school ID and that was fine...They also need your home address, and enough money to open an account with. My CU only asks for $25 as a starting deposit--most banks require $100.

Re: personal message: yes...but I don't think I have the privileges to do that. Have you talked to bgk?

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Ok, now I started reading about credit cards... Is there always some sort of fee for using a credit card? How much can I expect it to be?

This completely depends on the type of credit card.

I bank with Scotiabank (Canadian bank), and I have their student Visa, which has no fee and some small amount of cash back (I got $50 back this year). My boyfriend has a travel Visa from TD that he pays a $100 annual fee for and gets 1% of all purchases in the form of cash back to spend on travel related purchases. Since he puts a lot of work expenses on his credit card (and then gets reimbursed), this is awesome for him because he basically gets free money back. He always gets more back than the yearly fee. We've used $300 worth of hotel rooms in the last two months alone.

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Ok, now I started reading about credit cards... Is there always some sort of fee for using a credit card? How much can I expect it to be?

A lot of cards have no annual fee. However, if you have no credit history you may have trouble qualifying for this sort of card--because they will consider you to be more of a risk.* Try applying for card(s) with no annual fee, and if that doesn't work out try to get one with as small of a fee as possible. Pay the balance on your card off every month (do NOT make only the minimum payment). Then, in a year, apply for no-fee cards again and cancel the card with an annual fee.

Now there are other fees associated with credit cards: late payment fees, finance charges, etc. But if you pay off the balance completely every month, you will never have to pay these.

*Although, if you get a credit card through your CU, they may give you a fee-free card...because they know you have money in the bank.

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Try applying for card(s) with no annual fee, and if that doesn't work out try to get one with as small of a fee as possible. Pay the balance on your card off every month (do NOT make only the minimum payment). Then, in a year, apply for no-fee cards again and cancel the card with an annual fee.

So I will have to APPLY for a credit card??? I thought I am through with applications this year :lol:

But seriously - thanks a lot for the info!

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Strangefox, thank you for asking all those great questions. I was supposed to ask those here but I just can't seem to find time to do so. I appreciate all the answers as well. :)

I am planning to create an account with the CU instead of a bank.

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I don't think so. All 4 of my officemates are international students, and I know at least some of them bank with the same CU.

Hm, I contacted one credit union in the city where I will be living and they said they can't make me a member because I am a non-resident... I will try contacting other unions.

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Now I found a list of all credit unions in my city. The smallest have around 50 members and the biggest more than 150,000. I guess I would have a chance only with the biggest ones because small are too narrowly oriented, so to say. For a particular profession, company or something. Anyway, I contacted the two biggest CUs which are ostensibly for everyone who wants to join and I am not eligible because I am not a resident... I will have to go with the Citibank checking account, then :)

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Now I found a list of all credit unions in my city. The smallest have around 50 members and the biggest more than 150,000. I guess I would have a chance only with the biggest ones because small are too narrowly oriented, so to say. For a particular profession, company or something. Anyway, I contacted the two biggest CUs which are ostensibly for everyone who wants to join and I am not eligible because I am not a resident... I will have to go with the Citibank checking account, then :)

But you will be a resident once you move, right? If so, then you'll be eligible. Also, there are many CUs that do things based on employer (state university) or residence (like you have an address within the city or county boundaries). Only checking out the two biggest CUs doesn't really make sense. You're probably better off doing a google search and looking for those with branches close to campus, as they are most likely to let students join.

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But you will be a resident once you move, right? If so, then you'll be eligible. Also, there are many CUs that do things based on employer (state university) or residence (like you have an address within the city or county boundaries). Only checking out the two biggest CUs doesn't really make sense. You're probably better off doing a google search and looking for those with branches close to campus, as they are most likely to let students join.

Nope, I won't be a resident once I move. I wish I were! I will be a non-resident alien for quite some time.

I did not check the biggest CUs only because they are the biggest. I went through all the list and most times it was clear that I do not qualify only by looking at a CUs name (Firemen Credit Union, for instance). I did not look into others because they had too few members. I don't think I would want to be in a credit union with 50 or 100 members. May be I am wrong here, but it just seems strange. So I checked two credit unions that were a) not professionally oriented and b ) had a lot of members (around 50,000 each). And both replied that I don't qualify. Well, if I don't qualify there, little is a chance that I will in a smaller or narrowly oriented one. And no, I did not find any that would be for students in my city or for students at my university.

Edited by Strangefox
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Strangefox, have you tried asking current graduate students in your university who are also international students (non-resident aliens)? Some of them might be using CUs and can help point you in the right direction.

Edited by kroms
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Strangefox, have you tried asking current graduate students in your university who are also international students (non-resident aliens)? Some of them might be using CUs and can help point you in the right direction.

I will do that - but later. I think I will start with a Citibank account and when I am in the US, I will gradually research the issue of CUs further. Right now I am quite satisfied with Citibank options. There are no fees there as well. It's good that I know about credit unions - I am sure one day I will use their services, but there is no urgent need to start now :)

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