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Old 21-03-2013, 22:00   #16
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

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Originally Posted by svmariane View Post
There's a lot of advice up above - some from actual experiences. We've been to many different countries so here's my thoughts. This memo got longer and longer as I thought about things. Sorry!

You wouldn't walk into a restaurant in Vancouver or Seattle and expect a hassle-free time when attempting to pay for dinner with Euros, would you? So 'tis with other countries, and the prudent mariner plans ahead.
............
And for cheese sakes make photo copies of the passports and, and, and... Many times just showing the photo copy will suffice!
Excellent post James!

My bad experience with AMEX travellers' cheques in Sicily means carrying travellers cheques for emergencies is the only thing I disagree about. I also have very easy international transfers via internet banking, but this had to be set up before I left Australia.

Cruising all the most magical off the beaten track spots here in Greece, euros are most definitely king!
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Old 21-03-2013, 23:48   #17
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

If this has been said already , please forgive us! But we have found that gold and silver are taken on the days rate almost everywhere we have been !! A few kruger rands or silver bars will get ya out of a fix easy. If ya need them things have gotten out of hand! But still better to have small stash aboard, they are real easy to hide and are not affected by salt water!! Just an old timers old fashion ways
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Old 22-03-2013, 02:07   #18
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

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Stay away from banks in Cyprus! HSBC sounds like a safer international bet. You can open an account and transfer US$ into it from your home account electronically (may be some limits). Depending on what shakes out of this whole ECB mess over the weekend, you may find banking transactions in the med and southern Europe a problem so keep a good amount of Euros stashed aboard or in a PO box close to where you are... got a bad feeling about how this whole thing is going to unfold. James, post #13 has some sound advice. The US is not immune, either. Phil
Excellent advice from James.

The reason I have had a long relationship with HSBC worldwide is that there personal service is 2nd to none.

The relationship managers know me personally and because of my gypsy lifestyle, I have their cell and home numbers and they respond within hours of a text or email, when in a strange land.

If a critical transaction is needed over a local long weekend or in a remote place, they make it happen and follow up with the paperwork afterwards, once they have spoken to me.

Internet Security devices and double passwords work if I can’t get to the paperwork.

They actively introduce me to local affiliated banks who treat me with the same consideration and extend that concierge treatment as best as they can.

HSBC probably offers the lowest interest rates on savings accounts which only indicates that they don’t need my money. To me that actually is a plus.

While the various international banking rules are tightening up, HSBC still remains efficient and flexible for a traveler
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Old 22-03-2013, 05:39   #19
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

HSBC had their share of legal problems with uncle SAM; not a clean/trust worthy bank, to say the least. I would not put too much faith in any monetary institution, for the time being; banks, stock market and the likes. While we still need a bank for writing personal checks/deposits, the safest place to park money nowadays is in traveler's checks; even though you earn no interest in holding on to them. If they're lost or stolen, you can get them replaced at no additional cost, and they never expire; anemic interest rates make them even more plausible to own. AAA motor clubs (in the US), provides them fee free. Many banks offer them by paying 1-2% commission fee on the amount purchased; this is a much cheaper alternative than the fees charged by credit cards on foreign transactions. (I am not affiliated with AMEX.) Mauritz
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Old 22-03-2013, 06:29   #20
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

I have relied on ATMs and Visa. Your bank may have a foreign ATM charge over and above the exchange rate. Check with them. I have had no issue finding Plus network ATMs in Europe, but they were not easy to find in parts of the Caribbean. RBC and Scotia Bank both have many Caribbean branches. Some require a trek to find. Visa is more widely accepted that AMEX in Europe.
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Old 22-03-2013, 15:24   #21
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

In case you guys haven't seen it: Credit cards with no foreign transaction fee

We joined one of the credit unions on that list to get a zero foreign fee card with a chip. Their website also has a way to enter in travel dates for specific countries, so that you are less likely to trigger the fraud prevention system.

Oh, and not on the above list, Wells Fargo has a zero foreign transaction fee card (with chip) for folks in their private bank.

PS: I'm not really into the 'points' thing on credit cards, but some of give double points for travel expenses (hotel, rental car, flights). Many resort style marina's (with a hotel attached) are categorized as a hotel when the points are calculated, so if there's no other reason to choose from one of many credit cards, that may be a way to choose one.
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Old 22-03-2013, 23:44   #22
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

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HSBC had their share of legal problems with uncle SAM; not a clean/trust worthy bank, to say the least.
Yes…I agree, all Banks need close watching these days, but I find HSBC to be always ahead of the traps.

HSBC was one of the banks that fought US demands to disclose overseas foreign private accounts and was punished.
They also took proactive steps in 2002 Argentina peso crisis to minimize their losses as well as a few of their foreign investors.

I like them because they are efficient and flexible and always have inside local knowledge of what the rulers of the economy are doing

To me, not necessarily a bad thing when governments consider draconian laws to service their debts as in Cypress.
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Old 23-03-2013, 04:57   #23
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Originally Posted by bobconnie
If this has been said already , please forgive us! But we have found that gold and silver are taken on the days rate almost everywhere we have been !! A few kruger rands or silver bars will get ya out of a fix easy. If ya need them things have gotten out of hand! But still better to have small stash aboard, they are real easy to hide and are not affected by salt water!! Just an old timers old fashion ways
Your kidding me. I think my local Tesco or Carrefour wouldnt agree.

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Old 23-03-2013, 05:05   #24
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The op was referring to the med specifically. In that regards Seaworthys comments about Travellors Cheques are spot on. elsewhere in the world maybe but near useless in the Med especially EU med. more trouble then they are worth. Credit and debit cards are king

Note that opening local accounts can difficult depending on local regulations and bank may need a proper local address. Money laundering provisions in many countries now require you to prove you live there. It's all doable it may not be easy.

I would suggest setting up the cheapest credit card transactions system and then some day to day cash.

For Europe don't bother bringing dollars. Despite it few growing pains. The Euro is a world reserve currency and hence dominates now in Europe. Elsewhere dollars are useful

In practice today I see little advantage in a local. Bank account and the new forthcoming Eu SEPA regulations later this year will make that even less useful.


And yes I've bought a coffee with a card in Ireland ,the UK, France and Spain. Germany is probably the least credit card friendly country in the EU, but has improved in recent years.
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Old 23-03-2013, 05:52   #25
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

Excellent advice here although I would disagree with the ideas about traveller's cheques and gold. Most cruisers just use ATMs with either a credit card or debit card. The only problem is that the daily limit can be quite low in places. We also use credit cards for large payments when possible, we keep a credit balance on the credit card. We generally will have a stash of cash (local currencies and US dollars) hidden in the boat in several locations. Once we hid some dollars so well it took us two days to find it.
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Old 05-04-2013, 12:43   #26
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

I'm with TD, a couple months ago they sent me a "Visa Debit Card". I haven't tried it outside Canada yet but from what I was told by TD when I called them it will work as a regular debit card attached to my chequing account anywhere that Visa is accepted. I'm not sure the exchange rates for Euro or whatever currency you'll be using, but I bet it's on their website. Also, as far as I know, I'm not paying any additional fees for using it outside Canada.
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Old 05-04-2013, 13:21   #27
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

Thanks to everyone who gave us suggestions, wonderful imput from a wonderful group of people. We ended up opening a Premiem account at HSBC in Canada in Euro's and they then opened up an account for us in France. We are able to move money from our Euro account in Canada to our account in France for no fees. We will be given a debit card that will work in the EU. As long as the account maintains the minimum balance we are able to do most transactions for no fees.

We only have 4 more sleeps before our adventure begins, we are a very busy couple right now..thanks again!
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Old 05-04-2013, 13:34   #28
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

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Take with you American Express traveler's checks in $100 and $20 USD denominations. They are accepted in "Hell and in Heaven" - everywhere; in 40+ countries that I've visited, not one refused AMEX. Some stores will even give you a bonus premium for using AMEX traveler's checks for your purchases; 5-10% discount. The only limitation that you might encounter is the max amount that you can carry legally while entering some countries; $10,000 USD is the max. I prefer NOT to use any credit/debit cards while traveling; very difficult to challenge an un-authorized charge in a foreign country, not to mention the processing fees incurred. Another benefit with AMEX traveler's checks, replacement is easy if you lose them or are stolen. (Not affiliated with AMEX.) Mauritz
Amex is useless in Ukraine except for maybe for a few places in Kiev. Most banks in country do not have experience dealing with Amex. ATM's spit out USD or Hryvnia based on needs, but nobody uses USD unless large purchases. Most stores will not take anything but Hryvnia, or a Ukrainian or Russian bank issued Visa or Mastercard. At least that is my experience in Crimea. I simply use ATM's based on my US Bank holdings. Have not had any problems anywhere in Europe or Eastern Europe with using ATM's and local cash. Just put a travel notice on your account so your bank does not freeze your account for suspicious foreign activity.
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Old 05-04-2013, 14:09   #29
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

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We only have 4 more sleeps before our adventure begins, we are a very busy couple right now..thanks again!
I can just imagine your excitement. Wishing you a safe crossing!
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Old 05-04-2013, 14:24   #30
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Re: Banking questions for Canadians/Americans in the Med

If a country does not accept AMEX traveler's cheques...it is off my list as a place to visit. I have never had any issues with AMEX checks in 40+ countries that I visited; they all accepted the cheques, including Egypt. If lost or stolen, who else can get you a full refund, besides AMEX? <Not affiliated with AMEX.> Mauritz
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