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Money Exchange

The basic unit of currency in the United States is the dollar, and is represented by the "$" symbol. Paper money is green and is referred to as a bill, or bills. The following are common denominations: $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.

The penny is the only copper-colored United States coin and is the smallest in value worth $0.01. The nickel is silver in color and is worth $0.05. A dime is the smallest United States coin, is silver in color, and is worth $0.10. A quarter is silver in color and is worth $0.25. The half-dollar and the silver dollar are two additional United States coins; however, they are not commonly used.

Currency Converter:

United States Banking Services

To transfer money to the U.S., you can instruct your home bank to issue a foreign draft on a U.S. bank in Philadelphia. This is preferable to presenting a draft on a New York City bank. Clearance on a draft between banks in different parts of the U.S. can result in a delay of up to three weeks in making funds available. Since there are expenses which must be met immediately upon arrival, you may want to avoid unnecessary delays. A few U.S. banks have branches in foreign countries. These could be used if the U.S. bank is located within the vicinity of Philadelphia. If not, all large U.S. banks have what are called "correspondent" foreign banks with which they have established financial connections. In most countries you can find a local bank that has correspondent relations with a U.S. bank in the Philadelphia area. A transfer of money from one correspondent bank to another requires obtaining a draft from the home bank and presenting it, with personal identification, to the U.S. bank. The U.S. bank will then give credit in U.S. dollars. You may also request that your bank at home "wire" money to you once you have opened an account at a Philadelphia bank. Below is a list of Philadelphia banks that are close to Wistar:


TD Bank
119 South 38th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA
  Citizens Bank
134 South 34th Street 
Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA
PNC Bank
3535 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA
  Sovereign Bank
3131 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA


United States Tax Obligations

Tax regulations for international visitors are quite complex and can be confusing. Generally, any person earning money in the U.S. must pay some taxes. The taxes are usually taken out of the person's salary and include U.S. federal income tax, social security tax (FICA), Pennsylvania state income tax and Philadelphia city wage tax. J-1 visa holders are not required to pay social security taxes for the first two years in which they are in the U.S.; also some J-1 and H-1B visa holders may benefit from a treaty between their government and the U.S. government which will reduce their federal income taxes. H-1B visa holders do pay social security and most other taxes. You will be required to submit an income tax statement to the Internal Revenue Service each year by the deadline of April 15th.

Cost of Living in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, like most major metropolitan areas, has a cost of living that is high compared to other parts of the United States. Here are some other costs that are often overlooked:

  • Overnight lodging upon arrival. Hotel charges are anywhere from $90-$150 a night.
  • Tips on taxi fares and restaurant meals. Add 15% gratuity to the bill.
  • Personal and household items. Even if you rent a furnished apartment, you will have to provide linens, towels, kitchen utensils, and other basic items.
  • Security deposit when renting an apartment. You may have to pay three month’s rent before moving into the apartment.
  • State and local sales taxes are added to the price of many items or services. Philadelphia sales tax is 7%.