Cal Poly

Banking in the USA

Transferring Money From Home

If you require regular or emergency financial support from someone at home, Western Union Money Transfer services can be used to transfer cash from many countries. A bank account or credit card is not necessary. A family member, friend or sponsor may bring the cash they wish to send to any Western Union location, where they fill out a simple form and pay a service charge based upon the amount to be sent. You can withdraw that money in local currency minutes later at any Western Union location. Each country has its own central telephone number that gives callers detailed information regarding locations and service hours. Check your local telephone directory under Western Union Money Transfer or in the U.S. call 1-800-325-6000.

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If your government does not restrict the exchange of currency, you may wish to transfer some personal funds to the U.S.. There are no restrictions on the importation of U.S. or foreign currency. This can be done by instructing your bank to issue a foreign draft on a bank near your U.S. university with which your bank has a correspondent relationship.

Upon arrival, you can then open an account at that bank and draw on the funds or arrange for the funds to be transferred to a more conveniently located banking institution. You are strongly advised to bring some personal funds with you in the form of traveler’s checks to cover expenses during transit and immediately after your arrival. Do not carry large amounts of cash. When you arrive at the airport in the U.S., it is useful to change some money (traveler’s checks or foreign currency) into U.S. dollars to pay for transportation to campus, tips for baggage handling, hotel, and other possible expenses.

There are many banks located in San Luis Obispo. These banks offer various types of financial services, such as checking accounts, savings accounts, safe deposit boxes for valuables, foreign currency conversion, international money orders, and electronic wire transfers.

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Banks and Credit Unions

How Banks are Different from Credit Unions

Banks are for-profit corporations that serve a large number of people. Credit Unions are non-profit organizations that serve the needs of a specific group of people. Banks usually have state-wide or nation-wide branches and Credit Unions are usually locally based. The advantages of banking with large corporations are having the convenience of 24-hour customer service, many ATM locations throughout the United States, safe deposit box service, weekend business hours, and credit cards for students. The drawbacks of banking with large corporations are maintaining a higher minimum balance and having to pay higher service fees and penalty fees. The advantages of banking with Credit Unions are maintaining a lower minimum balance, free 24-hour banking service, free checking accounts, free over-draft protection for your checking account, and lower service fees and penalty fees. The drawbacks of banking with credit unions are: fewer ATM locations, usually no weekend business hours, no 24-hour customer representatives to answer questions, no credit cards especially for students, and usually lack of safe deposit box service. When selecting a bank or credit union, it is best to compare your
needs to the services that the bank or credit union offers.

Golden I Credit Union

852 Foothill Boulevard
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 547-3801

SESLOC Federal Credit Union

11491 Los Osos Valley Road
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 543-1816

Bank of America

1105 Higuera Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Call Center: (805) 544-2022
For international currency: (800) 523-7860


  • SSN not required to open account.

On-Campus in University Union
(805) 785-0219

Downtown Branch
1235 Chorro Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Call Center: (800) 492-7587
Local Branch: (805) 595-5602

Madonna Plaza Branch
445 Madonna Rd.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
(805) 595-5602

Wells Fargo Bank

  • SSN not required to open account.

San Luis Obispo Branch
665 Marsh Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Broad & Tank Farm Branch
3900 Broad Street (inside Vons supermarket)
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Heritage Oaks Bank

  • Passport needed to open account.
  • Must have an account for international currency exchange.

113 5 Santa Rosa Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401


  • SSN required to open account.
  • Currency exchange for account holder.

2276 Broad Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 541-5500

75 Santa Rosa Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 544-7070

Union Bank

Main Branch
995 Higuera Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(888) 400-7228

Marigold Center Branch
3840 Broad Street, Suite 1
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

997 Monterey Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

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Saving Accounts

A minimum $100 to $300 is usually required to open an account with a bank. Credit Unions usually require about $50 minimum balance. When you open an account, you usually receive an automatic teller machine (ATM) card. This card will allow you to access your account even when the bank is closed. Credit Unions may charge a $5 fee for your first ATM card and for each replacement card prior to your ATM card expiration date.

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Checking Accounts

After opening a checking account, which may cost you a monthly fee, you will be given a book of "temporary checks." You can write checks against the balance in your account. You will also be given a small booklet with your checks to be used to keep a record of the checks you write and the money you deposit. Good record keeping is very important, because it is the only way you will know how much money is in your account until you receive your statement each month. Banks and credit unions charge a penalty for overdrawing your account. The penalty fee usually starts at $20. Your bank will not honor a check written if the funds necessary to cover it are not in your account, and the business or person to whom you wrote the check may charge you a penalty fee as well.

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ATM Usage

A service charge of about $3 per month may be charged for the ATM if your account balance goes below the minimum. There is also usually a per-usage charge of $1.50 to $3 when using an ATM not provided by your bank or credit union. ATMs have a daily maximum allowable withdrawal amount to protect your account in case of theft. The maximum amount is between $200 to $500 depending on your bank or credit union. In the evening, select ATMs that are inside supermarkets or on brightly lit streets. For your safety, save your receipt and wait until you are in a safe place to count your money.

ATMs will only accept deposits from customers of their bank or credit union. When making deposits through an ATM it is best to use checks or money orders and write your account number on each check or money order. Instead of endorsing the checks, write "For Deposit Only" on the back of each check. There will be deposit envelopes near the ATM; write your account number on the envelope as well.

ATM Locations on Cal Poly Campus

Cal Poly has three ATM locations. Chase Bank provides an ATM machine by their office across from the University Store. Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank each has an ATM machine behind the University Store near the Avenue Eatery. Chase and Golden One have ATMs outside the Campus Market.

The Cal Poly Cashier, located in the Administration Building, will not accept all credit cards. It is very convenient to have a checking account because you can pay your registration fees and other bills without carrying a large amount of cash.

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Writing a Check

Here is a sample check:

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