Money and Resources

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Manage Your Money 

When you’re a student away from home, money is an important concern. Let us help you plan, save and manage your finances wisely.

We recommend that you:

  • Check with your home bank before leaving to see if you can use your credit card in the U.S.
  • Bring traveler's checks in U.S. dollars. You can pay your tuition with traveler’s checks and they are safer to carry than cash.
  • Bring credit cards for expenses other than tuition.

Additional Resources

Money FAQs

Get answers to frequently asked money questions.

You must bring enough money to pay for tuition, fees, health insurance, move-in costs and personal expenses. Check the Office of the Registrar website for your estimated tuition and fees. Of course, your personal expenses will vary based on your spending/saving habits.

We recommend bringing traveler's checks in U.S. dollars. You may pay your tuition fees by traveler’s checks at the Student Business Services window, and they are safer to carry than cash.

You can also pay for tuition and fees with certain credit cards. If you pay online via Growl, keep in mind that Visa cards are not accepted. Growl only accepts Discover, MasterCard and American Express.

Do not bring a check or draft in foreign currency, even from a non-California bank, since access to your money will be restricted for up to one month until the check is cleared. This is also true for any wire transfers, as you will not have immediate access to the money.

All fees must be paid in full by the end of the third week, or your student status will lapse and you will be dropped from classes.

“Late” fees are not charged for your first quarter of enrollment as long as you pay your fees by the third week of classes. However, if you continue your studies at UCR for more than one term, make sure that you note payment deadlines in order to avoid late fees and/or having your classes being dropped.

Contact Student Business Services for details.

Please see our International Student Handbook for detailed information about banking in the U.S., including how to open a bank account.

These banks are all within one mile of UCR:

Schools First Credit Union
1209 University Avenue (University Village)
(800) 462-8328

Chase Bank
1299 University Avenue (University Village)
(951) 782-8805

Bank of America
1680 University Avenue
(951) 686-2590

1651 University Avenue
(800) 627-3999

Automated Teller Machine (ATM)/Debit Cards
An ATM/debit card is like a credit card, but the money comes out of your bank account. Use it to pay for merchandise, withdraw cash from ATMs and get cash back at many non-campus businesses. UCR has multiple ATMs. If you use an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank, you will pay a fee.

Credit Cards
Most businesses take credit cards, but the type of cards they accept will vary. You should bring a widely accepted credit card. Check with your bank to see if you can use your credit cards in the U.S. – and see if there are any potential foreign transaction fees.

Cash/Foreign Money Exchange
Exchange foreign money for American dollars at Bank of America. You can also exchange foreign checks, international drafts and money orders, but there may be a long waiting period to access the money. Traveler’s checks (in American dollars) are accepted at most businesses. You can buy traveler's checks at all banks. Fees will vary.

Personal Checks
Be sure to carry identification if you use checks. You can use your passport if you don’t have a California driver's license or ID card. Businesses will not accept a check or draft in foreign currency or from a non-California bank.

You may be tempted to buy a lot of items you won’t find in your home country, do a lot of sightseeing and eat out with friends. Over time, these expenses—not to mention university fees and living expenses—can add up! Here are some tips to spend wisely and still enjoy your stay:

Read your I-20 or DS-2019 for estimates on minimum expenses, they are usually accurate.

Create an Excel spreadsheet or use budgeting software to make a budget and track your spending. Include categories such as:

  • Tuition
  • Fees (including health insurance)
  • Meals
  • Living (rent, utilities, etc.)
  • Textbooks
  • Transportation (bus passes, parking, vehicle registration/maintenance/insurance, gas, etc.)
  • Communication (cell phone, Internet, etc.)
  • Clothes
  • Family
  • Recreation
  • Vacation
  • Taxes
  • Additional personal expenses

As you track your expenses by category, see if you are going over budget and adjust your spending habits accordingly.

If you receive income on a regular basis, schedule your bill payments around when your income arrives

If you work or receive a scholarship or money from an assistantship, the U.S. government (Internal Revenue Service) and the California Franchise Tax Board will tax this income. Learn more about tax resources.


Be careful with your private financial information while in the U.S.

Follow These Guidelines: 

  • Always sign new credit and debit cards as soon as they arrive.
  • Always report lost or stolen cards to your bank or credit card company immediately.
  • Always check your bank account and credit card billing statements frequently.
  • Always report questionable charges to the card issuer.
  • Never lend your cards to anyone.
  • Never leave your cards or receipts lying around.
  • Never put your card number on a postcard or on the outside of an envelope.
  • Never throw away anything that shows your bank account number, social security number or any other identifying information. Shred these items!
  • Never give your card number over the phone unless you are initiating a transaction with a company you know is reputable. If you have questions about a company, check with the local Consumer Protection Office or Better Business Bureau.
  • Never reply to emails that ask for personal information such as passwords or account numbers.
  • Never carry PIN numbers or passwords with the cards they activate.

If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
Contact your credit card issuer, your bank and the business where the identity thief used your personal information.

For instance, if you discover that someone bought items using your information at, contact your bank or credit card issuer and Amazon to let them know about the fraudulent transaction. They should work with you to credit your account.

Some banks can detect if someone is spending your money. They may contact you to let you know about suspicious transactions on your account. notify their bank in their home country of their plans to study in the U.S. so that they don’t suspect fraudulent activity.

Learn more about how to prevent and resolve identity theft at the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information site.

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