Postdoctoral Education

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Life in the United States

Money Matters

Transferring Funds to the United States

You should learn as soon as possible whether your country has restrictions on sending money abroad. Once you know the rules, you should plan to bring enough money to meet the initial costs of getting to campus and at least one month's expenses. Traveler's checks are the safest way to carry money; do not carry large amounts of cash.

You will need to transfer larger amounts of money for your expenses for the year. Several options exist, and you should check with your institution and your bank to discuss the solution that best suits you. The best ways to transfer money are:

  • A bank check (also called a cashier's check) drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. dollars.
  • A "wire transfer" from your bank at home to your new institution (if you are paying a bill) or to a U.S. bank.

Opening a U.S. Bank Account

You should open a bank account as soon as possible. You will need two forms of identification (example: your passport and a United States driver's license). This process could take two or three weeks if done from overseas. The kinds of accounts and fees vary from bank to bank, so you should check with several different banks to find out which one best suits your needs. Find out:

  • How long you will have to wait before you can write your first check (some banks require a waiting period of up to three weeks).
  • How long it will take for funds deposited to "clear" (making the money available for withdrawal).
  • Whether you need to maintain a minimum balance.
  • If there is a monthly service charge.

Tips on Selecting a Bank and Using Your Account

  • Opening a checking account will allow you to pay bills easily (for example: rent, telephone, and car insurance).
  • A popular option in the U.S. is getting an ATM (automated teller machine) card. With an ATM card you can withdraw and deposit money 24 hours a day. There are several ATM machines available in the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. Please note that some banks have a waiting period before issuing an ATM card. There may also be charges for using ATM machines maintained by a different bank than the one you have your account with. Be sure to ask about this option when opening your account.
  • Make sure that the number of your first check does not start with number 1. It may happen that nobody wants to accept your first check because of the low number.
  • Most banks are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday (some have hours one or two evenings a week or on Saturdays). Many banks also have branches inside of Pick 'N Save, Kohl's, and Sentry Supermarkets. Therefore, it may be better to open a bank account at a bank near your work location instead of near your home. Be sure you can get to the bank when it is open. (If your work hours make this difficult, check to see if the bank has an ATM so that you have access to your money when the bank is closed.)
  • Unlike in other countries, you may not overdraw your checking account. Be sure to keep track of your checking account by entering every deposit and withdrawal in your checkbook. Otherwise, you may end up paying a penalty.
  • U.S. banks are organized on an individual statewide basis. Thus, you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to cash a check in a town or state other than where your account is located. When traveling you may want to carry travelers checks in small denominations for easy cashing. Also, cash your last paycheck at least a week before you leave, so that you can close your bank account and obtain travelers checks before leaving. You will not be able to do this in another city.

Banks in the Milwaukee Area

The list of banks below include toll-free numbers (beginning with 800, 877 or 888) with operators available 24-hours a day to assist you (except for Landmark Credit Union and Mitchell Bank), websites, addresses and local telephone numbers. They can help determine which bank branch would be closest to your work or home location and answer any questions you have about their fees and benefits. Consult the Milwaukee Yellow Pages Telephone Book for information on additional banks.

Chase Bank

Toll Free: (877) 682-4273

7430 W State St.
Wauwatosa, WI 53213
(414) 259-6608

(Requires two forms of ID but is willing to work with you overseas. Allow 2 to 3 weeks for processing the paperwork via mail if applying outside the U.S

Guaranty Bank

Toll Free: (800) 235-4636

Inside Sentry
6700 West State Street
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Inside Pick 'N Save
8151 West Bluemound Road
Wauwatosa, WI 53213
(414) 302-6340

Landmark Credit Union

Toll Free: (800) 871-2110

3600 North 124th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53222
(414) 535-1014

(Requires one form of ID and a Social Security Number. You need to stop in the bank in person to open the account.)


Toll Free: (888) 464-5463

Full Service Location
9210 West North Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
(414) 258-7200

Full Service Location
7501 West North Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53213
(414) 258-2200

Drive-Up & ATM Only
10529 West North Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
(414) 771-8100

(Requires two forms of ID but is willing to work with you overseas. Allow 2 to 3 weeks for processing the paperwork via mail if applying outside the U.S.)

Mitchell Bank

1039 West Historic Mitchell Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204
(414) 645-0600

Bank Mutual

Toll Free: (800) 261-6888

Mayfair Mall
2600 North Mayfair Road
Wawatosa, WI 53226
(414) 771-0350

North Shore Bank

 Toll Free: (877) 672-2265 

8706 West North Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
(414) 259-0059

PNC Bank

Toll Free: (888) 762-2265

6055 West Lisbon Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53210
(414) 744-8600

(Requires proof of residency in Wisconsin such as a utility or rent bill as well as one form of identification to set up an account)

TCF Bank

Toll Free: (800) 823-2265

7617 West Bluemound Road
Wauwatosa, WI 53213
(414) 471-8500

Tri-City National Bank

Toll Free: (888) 874-2489

10859 West Bluemound Road
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
(414) 256-5380

(Requires one form of ID and a Social Security Number. You need to stop in the bank in person to open the account.)

U.S. Bank

Toll Free: (800) US-BANKS / (800) 872-2657

Inside Froedtert Hospital
9200 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 955-4600

Inside Pick ‘N Save
6950 West State Street
Wauwatosa, WI 53213
(414) 302-2850

Mayfair Mall Area
2300 North Mayfair Road
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
(414) 258-1440

WaterStone Bank

Toll Free: (888) 686-7272

7500 West State Street
Wauwatosa, WI 53213
(414) 258-5880

Direct Deposit

If you are being paid by the Medical College of Wisconsin you may want to take advantage of the College's direct deposit program. This program automatically deposits your paycheck into your checking and/or savings account. This saves you the trip of having to take your check to the bank to deposit it. The program is administered by the Payroll Office and you will receive forms to sign up for the program during your New Employee Orientation. This is a popular option because it prevents delays in getting your pay. You can enroll in the program at any time during your employment. Note that you must have your checking/savings account set up at the time you enroll in the program.

Credit Cards

The use of credit cards is very common in the U.S. It may be possible for you to have money deposited in your credit card account in your home country, to be withdrawn in the United States. Contact your credit card company to verify the amount you can withdraw each month and any transaction fees that may apply.

M&I Bank guarantees a credit card with a $1000 credit limit to postdoctoral fellows who have their payroll checks direct deposited into an M&I account. Applications are available through the Office of Postdoctoral Education.


On a low budget, you would do best to eat in cafeteria-style or fast-food restaurants. However, for those occasions when you dine out, you should know that the service charge is most often not included in the bill. Check the bill carefully to see if it has in fact been included (often with large groups). Americans typically tip 15% of the price.

  • People you would typically tip:
    Waiter/waitress, porter, barber/hairdresser, taxi driver, room service at a hotel, or food delivery persons
  • People you would not typically tip:
    Bus drivers, theatre ushers, museum guides, salespeople, employees at fast food restaurants or hotel clerks
  • People you should never tip:
    Police officers, physicians, government employees, university employees (this may be interpreted as a bribe, which is illegal)

Overlooked Expenses

  • Traveling costs incurred while en route to the College, such as taxi fares to and from the airport, overnight lodging, and meals that are sometimes needed while awaiting a connecting flight.
  • Deposits on housing and utilities.
  • Health care costs. If you are being paid by the College, you are eligible for the College's medical insurance ($40 / month for single; $100 / month for family). Additional costs exist if you will be bringing family members or starting on a date other than the 1st of the month. If obtaining outside insurance, costs will be substantially higher.
  • Also be aware that the College payroll system pays employees on the 1st of every month for time spent working or in training for the previous month. For example, if you begin a College paid program on July 1st, you will receive your first payment on August 1st. Please plan ahead for anticipated expenses for that first month.
© 2015 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 11/04/2014