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Old 29-07-2011, 10:55   #1
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Accessing Bank Account from a Third World Location

I retired 2 years ago and left Florida with my wife for a ‘test cruise’ to see how we would like it. Everything has been fine and we plan to continue but it is time to get our financial house in order to accommodate the lifestyle.

First of all, how do you folks access your bank accounts from the 3rd World? Our ATM fees are eating up a ton of cash… bank fees here, bank fees there and fees to convert our money. Who has the definitive ATM card and Credit Card for long-term travel in remote areas? Or is there another way? (I am not associated with the military so the USAA Card, which sounds pretty good, is not an option for me.)

Special note: It is not my intention to make this an ‘American Only’ post. I have a Canadian passport and a British passport, though I have worked in the US for a dozen or so years and have investments there. Having said this, I don’t consider myself a citizen of any one country and, selfishly, I am prepared to open bank or brokerage accounts in any country that is advantageous to our particular needs.

Most of our present capital is invested in US funds managed by a large discount brokerage house. We are top heavy in stocks. I feel we need to get into the bond market with a fund that provides us with more security and a monthly dividend for living expenses and those dividends must be easily and cheaply available from wherever. This sound about right? Any recommendations?

I realize that I could use the services of a financial adviser here, but think exploring ideas within this forum a good place to start my homework.

Thanks in advance for any comments, advice, ideas and information.

Bry
July 2011
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Old 29-07-2011, 11:13   #2
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Re: Accessing bank account from 3rd World

Good question, I am sitting on the sidelines to learn myself...
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Old 29-07-2011, 11:16   #3
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Re: Accessing bank account from 3rd World

I USE MY ATM CARD, AS IS ONLY WAY I CAN GET MONEY IN MEXICO--HOPEFULLY OUR CHOSEN LEADER ISNT GONNA CURTAIL MY FUNDING--I LIVE ON SSDI.
getting fm3 in mexico is a plus as you can open a bank account here with that and some dough, then dependence on us funds is just a transfer.
so far , has been ok-- the fees are a bit high, but seem to be a necessary evil until fm3 status here is obtained. at least food is cheaper here.
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Old 29-07-2011, 11:26   #4
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Re: Accessing bank account from 3rd World

I always either used my Visa which took into account the exchange rate rather well, and often didnt show up on my billing for over a month. or...when back in the states I got traveler's checks....enough for 6 months or more. They were free with the type of bank account I had.. I dont know that there is any way to avoid fees in the third world though... waiting with baited breath
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Old 29-07-2011, 11:33   #5
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Re: Accessing bank account from 3rd World

Send yourself a moneygram?
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Old 29-07-2011, 11:54   #6
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Re: Accessing bank account from 3rd World

ATM/Credit Cards are the way to go. And a big wad of $100's for when there is no ATM. Yes, there are some fees. Nothing like the cost and losses associated with a "financial advisor" or brokerage. I'd keep my money where it's best invested. Where you are in the world is meaningless in that regard. Doesn't hurt to shop around for the best ATM in any given location. The rates can vary. Withdraw the max each time.

To manage my investments I have a brokerage account. It uses good encryption over the internet and a one-time electronic key thing they gave me. Quite secure.

Travelers Cheques are old school and accepted reluctantly everywhere.
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Old 29-07-2011, 12:01   #7
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Re: Accessing bank account from 3rd World

HSBC Premier account with their MasterCard and debit card... no ATM charges and no foreign exchange transaction fees. We live half the time aboard in Virginia and the other half in Thailand and this is the only card we use.
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Old 29-07-2011, 13:49   #8
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Re: Accessing Bank Account from Third World

There is only 2 ways. Visa card and Mastercard.

Its your type of bank and its fees that make the problems.

I have 2 banks.
1) A large bank. Charges me $18 to $30 per transaction, however their exchange rate is fractionally better.
2) A Credit Union (Its a memebers owned financial group) fees very low, or none at all on a Visa DEBIT card, but exchange rate is not quite so good.

You do need to hunt around at home and find the banks that are going to suit you best.
All 3rd World countries I have been to have ATM's, or will cash advance with credit card and passport over the counter.

My Australian dollars in my accounts are changed to US dollars then to the local currency so I get hit with a double rate commish. So others should note that too unless their money is in US dollars.

Banking/trancfers/bill paying etc is via the internet so make sure your bank is capable of all that

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Old 29-07-2011, 23:32   #9
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Referencing original post, what does USAA card do for you in this situation?

DH
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Old 29-07-2011, 23:49   #10
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Re: Accessing Bank Account from Third World

USAA is a military bank and insurance organization, based in texas, which serves military personnel and their families all over the world. They are accustomed to having their clients live in foreign nation and have reasonable fees.

We have just returned from a grand tour of europe. We used our wells fargo atm card to withdraw funds from BANK atms at 340 euros a crack to maximize the benefits and prorate the fees (5$ or 1% for 500.00) most effectively,

But we used the USAA card for larger purchases as the fee was 1% to charge something, essentially the same as the atm. There was an additional fee as I recall on the USAA card for cash withdrawls, but if we had an ATM card on a USAA account I expect it would have been competitive with Wells.

They both blew Chase outta the water.
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Old 30-07-2011, 00:25   #11
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Re: Accessing Bank Account from Third World

I use a US credit union but also setup an account overseas with WestPac (works better in the Pacific). Pretty much you can get money anywhere in the world with this, or a Visa/Master Card. Atm fee's and exchange fee's are a real problem. Oversea's accounts typically also charge a monthly fee. I always have access to my money but have to pay fees to look at it. New US rules also mean you pay taxes on your over seas account. I do carry a lot of cash, trying to minimize atm usage.

I'm really interested in this thread, hoping somebody has a better idea.
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Old 30-07-2011, 00:38   #12
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Re: Accessing Bank Account from Third World

If you have the requisite deposit with HSBC then the Premier account is definately the way to go - as mentioned by Doodles there are no ATM fees charged regardless of where or how often used. Citibank is another institute that knows international and expat customers and their needs. ATM systems are globally recognized so where your physical bank sites is now a moot point.
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Old 30-07-2011, 04:17   #13
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Re: Accessing Bank Account from a Third World Location

The "requisite deposit" that Zanshin mentions can be satisfied by simply transferring some IRA's or other investments to HSBC. It doesn't have to be a cash deposit. I had some IRA money with Janus and we just did a direct transfer ... no fees, HSBC just hold the funds in their Securities account. Works fine and since they are the custodian I don't get all the mailings from Janus.
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Old 30-07-2011, 05:17   #14
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While not a cruiser I have used Banking Division with good results when I travel. They rebate back all ATM fees, and when we travel have a fair exchange rate. I link the checking to one other account to limit exposure. Yes they protect you, but I don't want to put too much money in play.

When we were traveling in Eastern Europe I did not feel comfortable using my smart phone to check balances or move money. One phone call and a proper security check to verify my ID and they moved money to keep the vacation fun going.

Bill

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Old 30-07-2011, 05:56   #15
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Re: Accessing Bank Account from a Third World Location

I'm a US citizen and carry a few credit cards: American Airlines Advantage plus, Amex. But my ATM/Visa credit is from Edward Jones. My entire brokerage account is available through the ATM card 500/day limit.

Recently the actual banks here have been running scams on people's ATM cards by stealing your account # and password and immediately making withdrawals and charges from many countries.

I hate getting ripped off. So what I do, and it has worked flawlessly now for two years, is keep my account locked until I make a withdrawal. I find a safe and quiet location that has a "swipe" reader as opposed to a "take your card into the machine" reader, call the international service number on the back of the Edward Jones Visa card and give them the card number and my Edward Jones Brokerage number, ask them to "unlock the card." They verify then unlock the account, stay on the line till you get your cash, then you ask them to lock it up again.

Because of the daily limit, it took me several days to get the money to purchase a nice used toyota pickup recently. I sleep soundly at night knowing there is no way these theives are going to tap into my account because ,even though they have my number, they can't use it. This is a common practice in Latin America.

If you do your research, you will find Edward Jones Visa to be number one or two best rated card for exchange rates and low fees. I am happy with them.
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