I dunno too much about social security
, but I'm pretty sure if you are a US citizen, worked all or most of your life and paid into social security
, you're eligible to collect regardless where you live (several exception like Cuba
exist). No need to return to the US, etc. If you are not a US citizen, or are collecting benefits for taking care of a disabled child, etc, there are probably different rules. It is probably quicker and easier to have it direct deposited, and this probably requires the bank has a routing ID from the federal reserve (i.e. at least some operations in the US).
I'm not sure what advantages there would be to having gold coins instead of cash. US currency tends to either be taken or easily exchanged in most places. Travelers checks would be smart, can be guaranteed against loss or theft, but might not be accepted for whoever your trying to pay
. I personally can't imagine trying to barter for something with gold, and wouldn't know how to prove it's gold even to myself if someone else was attempting to sell it to me. In fact, if someone in some remote
pacific anchorage tried to sell me some gold, or exchange some for fuel
, etc, I would be highly skeptical about getting ripped off. And I would assume many customs
agents would find them odd and feel the need to make there was nothing else questionable about a boat with a large amount of gold coins on it. But I guess civilization could collapse and the US dollar become worthless.
Credit cards offer the most protection against fraud. But might be more expensive with exchange rate and foreign transaction fees
, especially with multiple small purchases. Maybe anything over $100 or so is smart with a credit card. The ATM is also generally going to hit you with a fee of some sort, and usually the max your going to get out of it is equivalent to $300. (you might be able to get your bank to raise that, but do you really want to have that risk?). Even with this fraud protection, getting ripped off can be time consuming and annoying (spend an hour on hold, getting a letter from the bank to sign and return stating you didn't make the charges, etc).
ATMs will give you local currency generally at a favorable exchange rate. If you take your ATM card and look at the back you'll see a bunch of logos, Visa, Star, Interlink, Plus, etc. These are the "networks" that connect the ATM to the bank, match the logo on the card with the logo on the ATM. Internationally, it'll commonly be Visa. And assuming that you've got Visa or MasterCard ATM card, it's also a debit and will work anywhere that a Visa or MasterCard credit card will. But, it generally does not offer the same fraud protections and might have a different rate.
Best advice I can give is to get two checking accounts with different banks with ATM cards. Talk to the bank (go in and talk to the branch manager) and make sure that if the accounts are overdrawn, it's refused. Often banks will cover the charge, and then give you a fee and make them pay you back, but if the card is stolen and they get your pin, they can steal money
you don't have. Keep the money in a separate account and transfer it to the checking on an as needed basis. Of course, this makes things difficult waiting for transfers to plan your drinking and such, so generally keep the checking balance to as small an amount as convenient. And make sure the bank doesn't charge you $20 for each transfer.
And most US banks are not international. There is a strict definition of International in US banking laws, and most do not meet this. They still work with international networks like SWIFT and the ATM networks and it's easy to get your money from them in foreign countries.
(I've spent the last 5 years working at a bank on the back end network technology. I don't know much about banking policy or regulation, but I have learned whose computers
are connected to what and have some general ideas about what information is sent / received.