Spending Money in the US Edit
Using your card Edit
Chip and PIN is only just starting to be used in the US. Depending on the situation, when you pay using your card you’ll have to:
- Swipe card/ insert card into slot
- Enter a PIN/ sign for it/ do neither
So the security is not great - basically don’t lose your card.
Venmo is a phone app that lets you pay people back for stuff - it’s really useful when splitting checks or for paying someone if they cover you for something, and most of the students have it. Unlike bank transfers, there are no charges for using Venmo, but you can’t use it for large amounts as it caps the amount you can transfer at $300/week.
Banking in the US Edit
You’ll be wanting to set up a checking account - the equivalent of a current account in the UK. One thing that’s different from the UK is that you will get charged if you use an ATM that is not from your bank.
Bank of America Edit
There’s a branch in the student centre and quite a lot of ATMs around Cambridge. They make the process of setting up an account quite easy just make sure to take your passport (you may also need your DS-2019 - I can’t remember). They are also good if you plan on travelling as they have locations nationwide.
MIT Federal Credit Union Edit
For all intents and purposes MITFCU works the same way as a normal bank. Available only to affiliates of MIT, you can open checking and savings accounts free of charge, and to keep the accounts open you just need to leave $5 in your savings account. It will refund the cost of using non-MITFCU ATMs for up to 10 uses per month. They obviously only have branches at MIT, but for everyday banking you can go online anyway.
Transferring Money Between UK & US Edit
Most of us used Transferwise (https://transferwise.com/ ) to reduce the transfer charges. US banks will charge you for any bank transfer you make between different banks (even between US banks), but not for anything that’s a payment or taking out/depositing cash/checks. The charge for a transfer into a Bank of America account is $15 flat rate per transfer, so it pays to do things in big chunks.
To make your life easier in the future when filing taxes, remember to keep all relevant documents safe. This includes any payslips, documents to do with your work, and documents about your health insurance.
Filing Federal Tax Edit
At the end of the tax year you will have to submit some federal tax forms for the previous calendar regardless of how much you earnt (even if you earnt nothing). MIT students have access to Glacier Tax Prep which is a bit of software that, after you give it some information about yourself, tells you which forms you need and fills them out for you.
People who earnt nothing in the previous calendar year will still need to send off an 8843 form. Remember that you will still need to file taxes the year after you finish the exchange for the 2nd calendar year that you were at MIT. So if you were at MIT in 2015/16, then you need to file taxes in April 2017 for the 2016 calendar year.
Filing Massachusetts Tax Edit
You only have to file Mass tax if you earnt above $8,000 in the previous year, so unless you’re a particularly high baller you don’t need to worry about Mass tax.