Bank Accounts

There are two basic types of bank accounts: checking accounts and savings accounts. With a checking account you can deposit your money in the account and access those funds using your Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card or by writing personal checks. Most likely you will pay your rent and bills with your checks, but most stores do not accept personal checks for purchases anymore. The bank will provide you with a checkbook and checks (there may be a fee depending on how you want to personalize your order). The ATM card is provided for free, but there are often fees for using your ATM card at banks other than the one where you hold an account. Additionally, most checking accounts have a minimum balance requirement. If you go below the minimum, you will be charged a fee.

If you have money that you do not need to use immediately, you may want to open a savings account. The advantage of a savings account is that money in the account earns interest. You can usually deposit and withdraw money from a savings account as you wish. As with checking accounts, there is normally a minimum account balance requirement.

When you go to open your account, take your passport and immigration documents along with any and all U.S. identification that you possess. It is very helpful to get your bank account set up soon after you arrive so you can have your paychecks from Drexel directly deposited into your accounts. There are many banks in the Philadelphia area to choose from.


Nearly everyone who works in the U.S. must pay federal income tax. Some states and cities including Pennsylvania and Philadelphia also collect income taxes. There may be a tax treaty between your country and the United States. The University Payroll, Human Resources, and Tax Offices can assist you with your tax-related questions.

Drexel University Office of the Comptroller:

Tax Office


Human Resources

 Government Tax Agencies:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Pennsylvania Department of Revenue

Philadelphia Revenue Department


There are a number of circumstances in the U.S. when tipping is expected. Many service personnel depend on tips for the majority of their income.

Expected tips are as follows:

  • ¬†Porters, at airports, train or bus stations, and bellhops at hotels: $1.00 – $2.00 per

piece of luggage

  • Waiters or waitresses in Philadelphia area restaurants: 18% – 20% of the bill
  • Taxi drivers: 15% of the fare
  • Barbers or hairdressers: 10-15% of the bill
  • Restroom Attendants: $1.00
  • ¬†Bartenders: $1.00 per drink
  • Valets: $2.00 – $5.00 when you pick up your car

* Never offer a tip to public officials, including police officers. It is considered a crime to do so.

This and additional information can be found in the Guidebook for International Faculty and Graduate Students.