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I arrived in the US 10 days ago. I got my SSN. The DMV told me I will get my ID in about 10 days.

I have to pay the rent plus some months prepaid which is USD 11,000.

My question is: I have my money in cash. The apartment manager doesn't accept cash and has asked me to bring in a cashier's check. How can I change my cash to a cashier's check without having a bank account?

  • 5
    $11,000? How much is the rent per month? – JoeTaxpayer Nov 8 '16 at 3:55
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    @ZoyaAmin do you have a job - in that case better to try to find something else - 6 months prepaid is too much. – shabunc Nov 8 '16 at 4:55
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    In my state, Massachusetts, that's illegal. I am a real estate agent, licensed in my state only. I don't know if this differs in other states. – JoeTaxpayer Nov 8 '16 at 4:57
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    What is the legality of not “accepting” cash? – JDługosz Nov 8 '16 at 12:54
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    Also, according to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, it looks like your security deposit is limited to a total of three months rent, no matter what the deposit is used for. I know it's not related to the need to change money, but you should know you're being taken advantage of. – corsiKa Nov 8 '16 at 17:34
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A cashier's check costs money to get and is not connected to an account. You have cash. You should be able to get a bank to sell you one, even without an account. Find a bank where you would like to open an account and explain the situation. I can't guarantee that that will work, but I would expect it to do so. If not, the bank can probably suggest an alternative.

You might also ask the landlord if you can do it with postal money orders. I am positive that you can buy those with cash. You might have to buy a bunch to reach your desired amount. Or perhaps a Western Union money order might be better.

You also might be able to open an account with your passport and Social Security Number (SSN).

  • 5
    +1 for money orders, if the landlord accepts them. They are as good as cash, and you don't need any government papers to buy them. If the post office won't sell you a single money order for $11k, ask what is the largest amount of money that they can give you on a single money order, then buy a few of those until you get your total of $11k. Each money order has a small fee. – Pedro Nov 8 '16 at 5:04
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    @ZoyaAmin - yes, you can buy 11 USPS money orders. They cost $1.60 ea so the total would only be $17.60. First make sure your landlord will accept them, and please save all of your receipts from both the post office and the landlord. (Note a single bank check may be cheaper than $17.60, I think some banks are about $10 for a check even without an account there.) – TTT Nov 8 '16 at 7:00
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    @TTT: From pe.usps.com/Archive/HTML/DMMArchive20030810/S020.htm: "Any customer whose daily total of purchased money orders is from $3,000 to $10,000 must also complete Form 8105-A and show identification bearing the purchaser’s photograph, name, and address." That seems to be exactly the kind of ID the OP doesn't have. It also says there it's forbidden to buy over $10,000 on any one day, so it will take at least two days. – Nate Eldredge Nov 8 '16 at 17:49
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    @NateEldredge - wow, great find! If they deny OP because of a lack of an address yet, then that would be quite the chicken and egg problem. I think a bank check would be simpler. – TTT Nov 8 '16 at 18:59
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    @NateEldredge Why wouldn't a photo ID issued by the (foreign) government and showing the purchaser's most recent (foreign) address qualify? – Damian Yerrick Nov 8 '16 at 20:23
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If you have an SSN and foreign passport - it's all you need to open account, so just open it and order a checkbook. It will take some time before they will issue it but most probably they'll give you some checks to use till that very moment.

So basically you should:

  • Come to the bank, open account, put some money on that account.
  • Order a checkbook associated with that account.
  • Obtain a two-three checks right there and voila - you have some small piece of paper you can give to your landlord.

Also I strongly suggest you to open two accounts - one would be for you and one for rent exclusively. The thing is that check could be cashed any time and it's pretty annoying exercise to keep that in mind.

  • 3
    @ZoyaAmin have a try in Wells Fargo, in my experience it is the most friendly bank for newcomers. – shabunc Nov 8 '16 at 5:06
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    Take other ID, such as your foreign driving license and identity card, a notarized letter from your employer with your name on it, or even a bank statement for your foreign bank, if you have them. With your passport and SSN, that is more than 2 pieces of ID. Also ask around local ex-pats for bank recommendations. Or go to a bank that knows and trusts your employer. (Ask your employer where they bank.) – Qsigma Nov 8 '16 at 12:12
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    @ZoyaAmin You should have received a temporary ID from the DMV? – Michael Hampton Nov 8 '16 at 14:10
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    @ZoyaAmin - from your comment above, it seems that Chase bank would accept your rental agreement. If you have rent due already, then you should already have a lease agreement- could you bring that to the bank? – TTT Nov 8 '16 at 19:07
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    Just a note: you do not need an SSN. You need your foreign passport and to be in the country legally (a visa page would help immensely as well). I opened an account without an SSN while I was living at a hotel. It required bank manager approval and scrutiny of my legal status, but it took less than a day. – Mark Henderson Nov 8 '16 at 22:41
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the easiest thing would be to go to walmart and stock up on 1000$ money orders paying a 70 cents fee for each. your landlord would almost certainly accept money orders, but double check first just in case. i say stock up because you can't get a money order for more than 1000$ and they usually won't let you buy more than 3 per day.

alternatively, you can probably open a bank account using your ssn and your passport. look for any bank offering "free" checking, and they should be able to give you a few "starter" checks on the spot when you open the account. in any case, they can certainly get you a cashier's check for free or a small fee.

side note: if you want to shop around for a checking account, look for a bank or credit union offering a "kasasa" account.

  • 1
    I am a landlord. I won't take money orders. I do however take cash. – Joshua Nov 8 '16 at 23:41
  • fortunatly the landlord today accept that get money order from me. and post offices sell money order 10.000 USD (10x1000) ... – Zoya Amin Nov 9 '16 at 5:58

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