When you arrive in the United States, we strongly recommend that you carry only small amounts of cash with you. You will probably want to set up a bank account in the Cambridge area as soon as possible. Commercial banks are preferable to savings banks, since commercial banks offer a greater variety of international services. To open an account you will need to bring your passport as identification.

Banks on campus:

  • MIT Federal Credit Union (credit unions are non-profit and is owned by bank members, not shareholders)
  • Bank of America

Other banks in the area:

  • Cambridge Trust
  • Santander

US currency

US currency comes in two forms: paper and coin. US paper money, known as dollars (bills), comes in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Common US coins are the penny (1 cent), nickel (5 cents), dime (10 cents) and the quarter (25 cents). One hundred (100) cents is equivalent to 1 dollar. And yes, even though the dime is smaller than the nickel, it is worth 5 cents more.

  • Quarters say “Quarter Dollar”
  • Dimes say “One Dime”
  • Nickels say “Five Cents”
  • Pennies say “One Cent”

Why does dime say “One Dime” instead of “Ten Cents?” As usual, we have borrowed a French word and changed the pronunciation. Dîme means tithe or “tenth part.” Cent is the Latin root of one hundredth.