I opened a checking account at Bank of America in California (a Bank of America Core Checking Account to be precise).

I have the option to link my Social Security Number to my bank account: what are the pros/cons of doing so?

If that matters, I am a non-resident alien, F1 student living in the USA.

  • 3
    What do you mean "link"? You have to provide tax id to the bank, which is your SSN
    – littleadv
    Jun 5, 2015 at 21:03
  • @littleadv Only my passport was required to open the bank account. By link I mean indicating my SSN somewhere in my bank account. Jun 5, 2015 at 21:04
  • 4
    As I recall, if you don't provide a SSN, the bank is required to withhold 20% of all interest payments and send the money to the IRS as income tax withheld. I presume there will be some issues with reconciling your 1099-INT statement and your income tax return. On the other hand, if you are an impecunious student whose bank balance rarely exceeds a few thousand dollars, the pennies in interest that you will earn from the back might not even generate a Form 1099-INT from your bank: the amount will be small enough that the bank does not need to report it to the IRS at all. Jun 5, 2015 at 22:13
  • @DilipSarwate when I just moved to this country the bank refused to pay me any interest or give me any credit without SSN
    – littleadv
    Jun 5, 2015 at 22:21
  • @DilipSarwate My impression is that it's 30%, not 20%, that they take if you don't give them a SSN. Jun 6, 2015 at 3:26

1 Answer 1


From my understanding, two reasons for linking my Social Security Number to my bank account:

  1. Avoiding issues with the IRS
  2. Building credit history

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