US Bank Accounts

I am posted to the Good ole' US of A... I have been advised that the best option for a US bank Account while I am out there is BOA (Mil a/c) as it is possible to open it without a SSN (but with evidence of posting). At the same time all the Americans I know are telling me that BOA are shit, have lax security and I would be better off opening an account will a local bank when I arrive and have a SSN.

I would like hear what BOA users think of their service and what if any sane advice there is for coping with the US banking system.

As an aside, I am hoping to purchase the current incumbents car when I arrive and they leave. Since the transaction will be in sterling and not in dollars how will the state (local - Md) taxes be calculated? Can we get round this by the car being 'gifted' to me and not tell them about the transaction between ourselves, (since there will be audit trail stateside)?

Ta very much, time for tea and scones :p
I'm not too impressed with BOA and prefer using a "Credit Union" - a Building Society -, especially if you need credit. Not having a credit history in the US is worse than having bad credit! But you'll need an SS number to open an account. If you're in the US for any length of time then it's worth getting an SS number as you'll need it for so many things, like getting a cell phone for instance.

One thing about banking here is that it is expensive. Don't use an out of network ATM you'll get charged by both banks. I once got caught out, withdrew 10 bucks and got 5 bucks fees on top of that and there was no on-screen warning that I would be charged for using that ATM.
My US$ account is with Citibank - I've had it for decades and opened it in the UK before I embarked on frequent trips over the Atlantic.

The account is with Citibank's Global Consumer Banking Division, the address is Hammersmith, and I have never had any problems with them.
It very much depends on where you going, and which banks are around your area. I am with Wachovia (who have been very good) and only needed to have a US ID card rather than SSN. Contact the Embassy in DC and try and get access to their website called "Destiny" (You need a password). It has plenty of advice online about all aspects of posting to the US. 8)
Wells Fargo let me open an account before I had an SSN or drivers licence, put they took a copy of my passport and a fingerprint. You will need an SSN to get any form of credit and it will take a few months to get any form of credit rating. If you want a US credit card straight away get yourself an AMEX while you are still in the UK as they will transfer your credit worthiness with you. The alternative is to get a secured credit card - ie you give the bank the same amount of cash you want as credit.

After a couple of months of purchases and payments, the normal credit card offers will come through and you can cancel the old card and get your money back (plus interest). I suggest you keep a UK credit card active and make the odd purchase on it to keep your UK credit rating as well.

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