The United States currency is the U.S. Dollar. The country's monetary system is based on USD$1. American currency comes in various sizes and materials:
- 1 cent (penny) is a copper-colored coin.
- 5 cents (nickel) is a silver-colored coin larger than a penny.
- 10 cents (dime) is a silver-colored coin; it is the smallest-size U.S. coin.
- 25 cents (quarter) is a silver-colored coin; it is larger than a nickel.
- A few silver-colored 50 cent coins (half-dollars) and silver dollars are in circulation. Paper money is all the same size. These bills come in $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations.
Here is a Currency Converter for your convenience!
In the United States, banks offer many kinds of financial services including checking and savings accounts, foreign currency conversion, bank drafts, money orders, credit cards, loans, inter-bank transfers, traveler's checks, and safe-deposit boxes for valuables.
All banks offer similar services with minor differences in such areas as interest earned in various types of accounts and fees charged for services and accounts. You are free to select any bank to use that you wish, but for convenience sake, Bank of America has established a relationship with Fairfield University and placed an ATM on the second floor of the Barone Campus Center.
If you elect to deal with Bank of America, there are various branch locations around the town of Fairfield.
To open an account, you will need to present your passport and at least one other piece of identification, usually your student ID. You will also need one of the following: cash, a bank draft, cashier's check (a check written by the bank), or traveler's checks - all payable in U.S. dollars.
The easiest way to access money in the United States is through a Checking Account. Once you open an account, you will be given numbered checks imprinted with your name, address and account number so that you can write checks against the balance in your account. Some banks even provide a Check Card, which is used like a credit card but uses funds directly from your checking account. These accounts allow you to undergo necessary transactions without having to carry large amounts of cash.
Savings accounts, on the other hand, are used to deposit money which you do not wish to withdraw in the short-term. This account will earn money or "interest" for you. The rate of interest varies, but the higher the interest, the more money you will earn. If you wish to withdraw this money, you would do so personally rather than by check.
Accessing Money in the U.S.
The easiest way for you to access money in the United States is through an ATM. There is an ATM on-campus, and there are many more in town. By using your check card, debit card, or bank card, you will be able to take out cash from your bank accounts. You will need to remember your PIN, which is given to you when you open your account. Oftentimes there is a charge for using an ATM. These charges often apply if you are using an ATM from a bank different than the one holding your account.
Traveler's cheques are another way to access money. You can have them issued either at home or in the United States, but they must be exchanged in a bank in order to receive cash. This method could be time-consuming, however traveler's cheques are safe since they can be replaced in case they are lost.
Keep in mind that foreign checks may take a long time to be processed by banks in the U.S. The best way to transfer money is through Western Union. Western Union sends money among its locations worldwide. However, they don't have locations everywhere and they charge a fee for the transfer. Similarly, currency convention is expensive. In Fairfield there are few options for currency conversion. Check with your bank if they are able to convert your currency.