The banking system in the U.S. is very safe with secure branches, with ATMs (automatic teller machines) and drive-through banking having security cameras, and websites having enhanced encryption for safe online banking. Many Houstonians check their balance and pay bills online or receive email alerts for minimum balance or a check gone through, even as a text on their cell phone.

Expats are generally not used to the drive-through system. Most banks, even downtown, let you drive up to a station and conduct bank business out of your car window. Outside ATMs are also designed for easy access by vehicle. It is efficient and fast. The process is safe but if you have to discuss confidential matters, it is recommended that you go inside the branch and speak to a teller or advisor there.

You will find banks and credit unions in Houston. Credit unions often provide some interest on their accounts and are the popular choice for all types of loans.

Expats may be used to easily wire money in their home country. In the U.S., money transfer has not become popular until online banking, where you log in online and request to pay a bill online with money from your account, called ‘Bill Pay’. International money transfer cannot be performed online and should be requested by visiting your bank directly or by using a money transfer service. For more information, see the section “Sending Money Overseas”.

Banks and credit unions also offer notary services and they are free if you hold an account with that bank or are the member of the credit union. Notary services are required when you need a copy notarized to ensure its validity and as a new expat to Houston, you’ll quickly become familiar with that process when setting up everything.

Typical banking hours are Mo – Fr 9 am – 6 pm, Sat 9 am – 3 pm. Banks are generally closed on Sundays and holidays. See the section Bank Holidays for more information.

If the bank is closed, you have access to 24/7 ATMs. ATMs allow you to withdraw and deposit money and check balances.