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Old 15-09-2003, 05:12   #1
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Banking while cruising

Gisle:

How about a thread on banking while cruising. Some things are covered in the "making money while cruising" thread, but I (and possibly others) would like to have some help on this issue. What are some good banks in the Caribbean, or some part of the world? What Carib banks are affiliated with those of our particular home country; or which are better represented? How much money do we need on board, and what credit cards are recommended?
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Old 15-09-2003, 18:13   #2
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For Example...

Since posting the above, I emailed corporate headquarters of one local bank, here in NB, Canada, that is prominent in the Caribbean. Their response was informative, and probably common. Pardon the removal of the particular corporation:

"Although DISBANK does have businesses outside Canada, those operations outside Canada are independent of our Canadian branch network. You can't do your banking at DISBANK branches outside Canada as they don't service Canadian DISBANK
accounts.

DISBANK can't guarantee access to bank machines outside Canada, although access is usually available at bank machines on the PLUS system in the United States. Some of the issues that may prevent access to your accounts are:

· The bank machine might not recognize the designation of the account you're trying to access.
· The withdrawal limits on the bank machine might not match your withdrawal needs.
· The amount you try to withdraw might seem to exceed your daily withdrawal limit, because only absolute figures are taken into account, not the currency. "

They went on to recommend credit cards and travellers cheques. Useful info, I think; although somewhat predictable. A second Canadian bank prominent in the Caribbean gave the same answer - Banks with the same name are not strongly affiliated with our banks at home.

Still, it seems to me that if we are spending any reasonable time in an area, we are going to need some local financial services.

I guess it would still be helpful if others provided opinions on this. What arrangements for banking would be right or wrong, especially for the Caribbean? Has anybody had real banking trauma while travelling, that they would like tell us about? How much cash should be kept with a cruiser? How often are credit cards refused in favour of cash?

Thanks
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Old 16-09-2003, 02:18   #3
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Plastic vs Cash

Credit Cards are very widely accepted in the Islands (virtually anywhere /w telephone, used to confirm authorization); whereas large bills (cash) are sometimes not.
Hundred & fifty dollar bills are almost impossible to use (counterfeiting), and sometimes even twenties are mistrusted.

I always carried lots of small bills (one & tens, and nothing larger than a twenty), avoiding the common “I don’t have change” gambit. Gas docks are famous for this ploy.

Any cash amount over $10,000 is “reportable”, in most jurisdictions.

Prominent in the Bahamas, we had no problem with “Scotia Bank” plastic (Disbank?).
On the other hand, customer service presented one minor problem. We received a Canadian Scotia Bank “Draft”, which a Bahamian Scotia Branch would not cash without verifying the signature (of the Canadian Banker). No problem, except they wanted to charge us for the telephone call. Went to a larger Branch (both in Nassau), and got it cashed without question. Go figure ...

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Old 18-09-2003, 05:09   #4
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Disbank

Thanks, Gord:

Actually, Disbank was CIBC. Scotia (DATBANK?) was the second, shorter reply.

I had some minor banking trouble in Grenada. Their machines spat out my debit and visa cards (probably my errors, as the cards worked when I got home), but no matter how hard I pleaded, they would not give me any cash on my Visa card at any counter. It was a case of "go to the machine", "but I can't get it to work", "sorry, too bad". This happened at Scotia and at Barclays. I chalked it up to the local theme on customer service.

I got better service at the little bank on Carriacou, but I think that was before my Travellers Cheques ran out.
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Old 26-12-2003, 12:14   #5
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For Canadians

For those Canucks who are following this, my research has continued a bit.

I have found no exceptions regarding connections between the Canadian institutions and the Carib banks of the same name. It is like they just sell the Caribs the surplus signs.

I have now been searching for a U.S. funds credit card (from a Cdn bank) that I could pay on line. I am hoping that my broker or a friend can make deposits of American funds to the American account, for me to manipulate/access from afar. Scotiabank does not even have a US Visa yet. CIBC has the US Visa, and allows you to carry a US chequing account, but you cannot transfer between these accounts on line.

I checked with Bank of Montreal (BOM). They insist they can provide me with the US Visa, the US account, and that if I set it up, I can pay from one to the other on the internet from any location from which I can log on. I intend to set this all up and check it in the new year.

Some American readers may be surprised by this, as I am told by the banks that the Canadian systems are somewhat further ahead, electronically than many of their American counterparts. Probably has to do with the numerous associated outlets. We only have 5 banking institutions up here; and they compete for customer service and for the edge on one another. We can bank online at all five banks, switching funds from different types of accounts, to and from credit cards, and into special accounts that allow the purchase of stocks and mutual funds online. We can lose our money without leaving the house or even standing up.

Interestingly, the non-BOM banks insist that they will get what I want soon.
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Old 26-12-2003, 18:40   #6
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International Banking

We too have situations where we needed to transfer $ between Canada and the US. One of my sister's-in-law is a manager of a BOM in Coquitlam, BC and she is hoping there will be a change soon. Sometimes we exchange funds to take advantage of financial situations. The thing we have done in the past is to pay a fee to transfer funds. From the US it's $15, From Canada it's $25. But my sister didn't have to pay because of her position at the bank.

I do know that when I go to Canada I can use my checkcard to withdraw cash from my US acct. in C$.
As far as the US banks not being up to date with the Canadian, you should check out the Bank of America. Their online service covers a lot of options. I'll check out transfers between countries with my acct. here soon. And they do keep up dating a lot.

Do they not have the PLUS system in Canada?

And please keep us updated on the BOM acct. progress. Here's a link to BOA.

http://www.bankofamerica.com/

In the search box at the top of page type in "transfer funds" . There maybe some info there you could use.

Fair winds.........................._/)
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Old 26-12-2003, 21:01   #7
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Currency exchange

At my day job I use Custom House Currency Exchange in Vancouver. They are even in the Marine Building. I have been able to use my HSBC ( used to be bank of BC ) mastercard in NZ England and the US with no fuss or bother. And I have had no problem doing electronic transfer of $$. In Canada if you want service do not go to the major banks go to the Trust Companies. Trouble is the banks are buying all the Trusts. BC mike C
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Old 28-12-2003, 08:43   #8
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Delmarrey and BC Mike C:

Transferring funds is an option, but I am looking for day-to-day stuff as I travel. Certainly, I can get to a bank, pay for telephone calls and fees, and get large sums of money transferred.

I am not familiar with the Plus System, or at least don't recognize the name.

Mike: Was that a US funds credit card?

As you say, the trusts can have better service and special services. I actually enjoy the special abilities and services of ScotiaMcLeod. Their rates for the purchase of US funds, and for the transfering of funds to offshore suppliers have been very good. They have been very helpful in transferring funds to France to allow the purchase of the boat from Martinique, and in transferring money to Holland for my winch parts. I expect that my SM broker will make a transfer to a Carib bank if I am lucky enough to call him from an island telephone, catch him at his desk and get the transfer info to him. I would end up with a large sum of money to justify the trouble, then "stress out" about having it with me. Still, an option.

It was actually my SM broker who suggested we get a US credit card from a Canadian bank and pay it off online. He said he could transfer US funds from my SM account to the bank, and I could pay the credit card off from wherever I can access the net. Sadly, Scotiabank doesn't even have the US cards. It would have been slick to have ScotiaMcleod transfer the funds to Scotiabank, and for us to manipulate our Scotiabank credit card and chequing account online. Still, SM have even offered to walk funds to another bank, if that gets me what I need.

It will be a week or so before I check with BOM. I am acquiring a new address from Canada Post first. Keep the comments coming.
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Old 28-12-2003, 11:14   #9
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Credit card

My Master Card is actually linked to Canadian Tyre so I get CT points when I use it. It is not a US funds card but it works fine if I need to book a room buy a meal or gas in the US. Same thing in England. Sometimes your financial agent can do stuff for you when you are gone, you will need to sign a letter of authorization and be clear about what activities can be done in your name. We do this as a service to good clients if the need arises. But in Canada we have different sets of rules that we must follow. If you can get the bank where you are going to talk to the bank where you are from it will help. Some places will not let you open a bank account unless you have been a resident for a minimum time period. This is a big problem. If you had a bookkeeper type person looking after your bills and getting $$ from your financial agent you may have a plan. BC Mike C
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Old 28-12-2003, 14:41   #10
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Everything you say makes me think that I am on the right track, getting a US funds card and paying it off online. Paying for everything with a Canadian funds card, and having them decide what rate and fees they want to charge me for the currency exchange just bothers me. Every card purchase is actually two transactions, with a Canadian funds card in a strange port.

I have never had a problem with paying for anything in US dollars in the Carib.
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Old 28-12-2003, 18:45   #11
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US funds

If you are going to be primarily in places that use US $$ then a US card and or bank does make sense. You can get a Canadian life insurance policy and a mutual fund all in US dollars. A lot of Canadians have US bank accounts, and property and phones and so on. BC Mike C
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