Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 30-07-2014, 21:36   #1
Registered User
 
SailingTerrapin's Avatar

Join Date: May 2014
Location: San Diego
Boat: Dufour 12000ct 45 Ketch
Posts: 50
Images: 1
How to Handle Bank Account/ Debit Card while Long Term Cruising... Need Insight

Exactly how does this work? Is there a "better" bank than another to use while cruising Mexcio, Central America and the Caribbean? Is it feasible to use a debit card while cruising for a few years? What about all the bull$hit fees for international use?

Starting to feel overwhelmed. Certainly not planning on sailing for two years with mattress money.
__________________

__________________
Family of four from California sell it all and set sail
Dufour 1978 45' Ketch
www.sv-terrapin.com
SailingTerrapin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-07-2014, 21:41   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: San Diego
Boat: Pearson 39-2 "Sea Story"
Posts: 1,109
Re: How to handle bank account/ debit card while long term cruising... Need insight

It has been awhile since I last checked, but even if you find a bank with branches in all the countries you want to visit, you will likely be susceptible to the international fees. It is technically a different bank in each country.

That being said, look for a bank which does not charge ATM fees. This is most often found in small, local banks or credit unions, not the big names.
__________________

__________________
Greenhand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-07-2014, 22:10   #3
Registered User
 
transmitterdan's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2011
Boat: Valiant 42
Posts: 4,018
Re: How to handle bank account/ debit card while long term cruising... Need insight

Even banks with "no ATM fees" often do not offer that feature for foreign ATM transactions. You just have to talk to your bank or credit card issuer. If you are thinking about getting new cards consider getting credit card(s) and ATM card (not a debit card). Debit cards linked directly to your bank account do not offer all the fraud protections of a credit card. An ATM card will not work as a credit card but you can get cash with an ATM card.

Some credit card issuers are advertising no annual fees and reduced or no foreign transaction fees. This is an evolving issue and likely to change fairly rapidly. Both ATM fees and foreign transaction fees vary widely among card issuers. You will have to research this and contact a number of issuers to see what is the best deal you can get.

The web might be a good search tool (checkout NerdWallet.com for example) but before signing up read all the fine print.
__________________
transmitterdan is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 30-07-2014, 22:32   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: W Carib
Boat: Wildcat 35, Hobie 33
Posts: 7,909
Re: How to handle bank account/ debit card while long term cruising... Need insight

Don't think you are going to find a bank that avoids all international fees. For example, unless you are using your home bank's ATM you will get dinged by the ATM operator for the transaction (about $3 in most of CA now). Make the biggest withdrawal you can to cut down on the relative percentage.

Ive got both USA and Guatemalan accounts that I use throughout CA and I get fees, but the fees charged by my banks (excluding the one charged by the ATM operator) are small. For example my USA bank charged $0.56 on a $70 purchase txn recently.

My CitiBank credit card does not currently charge for international transactions (they used to), but they rape you if you do a cash advance whether international or domestic.

Don't over think this, the fees are annoying, but not that bad.
__________________
belizesailor is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 30-07-2014, 22:33   #5
Registered User
 
TeddyDiver's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Arctic Ocean
Boat: Under construction 35' ketch
Posts: 1,826
Images: 2
Re: How to handle bank account/ debit card while long term cruising... Need insight

Never had any problems using debit or credit cards abroad. This includes all of europe, middle east, far east and caribean. There's allways wifi or hardwired internet in bigger cities and turist resorts to manage your funds, cards and bank accounts online.
Thou I know banking in the US is some decades behind the rest of the world..
__________________
TeddyDiver is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2014, 01:23   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Montegut LA.
Boat: Now we need to get her to Louisiana !! she's ours
Posts: 3,421
Re: How to handle bank account/ debit card while long term cruising... Need insight

We carry bank letters of credit. Good most anywhere and in most banks in most every country we have been to ! at least through out the Pacific and the Carribe so far ! We always have a little cash aboard, it helps a lot and with the bank letters of credit we can get larger amounts if needed for repairs and such ! works for us, but we are old fashion !
__________________
Bob and Connie
bobconnie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2014, 02:37   #7
Registered User

Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 666
Re: How to handle bank account/ debit card while long term cruising... Need insight

We sail in the Med each year. To bypass international money transfer fees by our bank in Australia, we opened an account in France (credit Agricole) We then use a money broker (Ozforex) to buy Euros which are deposited in the French account. This is a small saving but also ensures that we can get money out of most ATMs which was not the case with our Australian cards. If you go this way , make sure that you choose a bank in a country which you pass through every year. You might have to visit a company bank to change passwords etc. The original signup might require notarized documentation and a personal interview.
__________________
dlymn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2014, 04:06   #8
Registered User
 
matauwhi's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Boat: Mason 53
Posts: 652
Re: How to handle bank account/ debit card while long term cruising... Need insight

G'day, Mate. FWIW, do some due diligence on Schwab Bank. Have been using it's debit card for over 5 years now internationally. It will be hard to beat with the other options out there. They had a good credit card business for awhile, but sold it on to BOA, darn it!!

All the best with the travels. Cheers.
__________________
matauwhi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2014, 04:45   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Cheyenne, WY
Boat: 1981 Ta Tong Cape Horn Cutter
Posts: 323
Images: 2
Send a message via Skype™ to gts1544
Re: How to handle bank account/ debit card while long term cruising... Need insight

We got a Capital One Credit Card (MasterCard & Visa) as they charge no foreign transaction fees on credit purchases. I cannot speak to their debit cards, if they even have them. We pay all of our bills online using Wells Fargo Net Pay so our personal account numbers are never revealed. As for cash, I always depart the US with about $1000 in small bills (20 / 10 / 5 / 1) for small items & tips and use the credit card whenever I can. It seems to work well for us, however I am never out of the US for more than a few months at a time. Hope this helps! George
PS - Citibank charges a 5% foreign transaction fee, including in the BVI's where the official currency is the US dollar.
__________________
gts1544 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2014, 05:51   #10
cat herder, extreme blacksheep
 
zeehag's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: furycame alley , tropics, mexico for now
Boat: 1976 FORMOSA yankee clipper 41
Posts: 17,762
Images: 56
Send a message via Yahoo to zeehag Send a message via Skype™ to zeehag
Re: How to handle bank account/ debit card while long term cruising... Need insight

i use usbank. i have the debit card. suck up the fees they happen ...
make sure you have a good address to which to send cards when they expire and / or become cancelled due to someone frauding in usa.
you will need an address in usa for them to send the card to and you will need an address to which to send the card from usa to you. bank will not send card to you in mexico or anywhere else not matching your address on card.
as there are restrictions in mexico as to who can open an account, you must be flexible.
atm cards are usable everywhere.
DO NOT USE CASHOLA MACHINES!!!!! only use machines associated with real banks.
(donot be a victim)
other than replacement of cards, life with atm cards is all good.
paypal is also good to have-- get the credit.debit card..is a card backed with money you have on account. good for when your bank card is lost or delayed, as it willbe, even when delivered via dhl next day service. count on replacement taking about 2 weeks, and you will be fine. (that is with an address to send in the country you are visiting) hint--marinas make great addresses.... and usually will accept and distribute mail. this one deosn not) is also a good idea, if in a small puebla/town, to make friends with the mail deliverer.. lol it helps get your packages and letters to you.

btw--i do NOT do the gringo migration , making a path between mexico and usa every 6 months, as i arrived at the right time not to have to do that. i am now holding a residente temporal visa, and i am able to open a bank account here, which is top of my to do list.. i figure a bank that is also in cariibean is a good choice....
zeehag is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2014, 07:32   #11
Registered User
 
dwedeking2's Avatar

Join Date: May 2014
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Boat: Morgan Out Island 415
Posts: 371
Images: 1
Re: How to Handle Bank Account/ Debit Card while Long Term Cruising... Need Insight

Currently using CapitolOne because they don't have any service fees internationally (at the time of this post subject to change). You do have to go online and enter in a travel notification (only good for a period of 60 days so you have to fill out a new one at the end of 60 days if your are always overseas).

Another warning, I was told by my bank (Bank of Hawai'i) that they don't allow mail forwarders to forward the cards when they are sent out. I don't know how valid this statement is as I changed my address to a friends house at that point and then she will just send it on to me. But I was suprised by this (isn't this the point of having a mail forwarding service?).

I also recommend having at least 2 points of funding. Flukes still happen (neighbor couldn't get cash out because the local ATM wouldn't connect to his bank, but other people with other banks, were able to get cash) and it's stressful to have a "card decline" when you need things like food and beer... ok, really just the beer.
__________________
dwedeking2 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2014, 09:08   #12
Registered User
 
tbodine88's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Austin TX
Boat: West Wight Potter 19
Posts: 719
Re: How to handle bank account/ debit card while long term cruising... Need insight

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenhand View Post
It has been awhile since I last checked, but even if you find a bank with branches in all the countries you want to visit, you will likely be susceptible to the international fees. It is technically a different bank in each country.

That being said, look for a bank which does not charge ATM fees. This is most often found in small, local banks or credit unions, not the big names.
Maybe things have changed, but I once had an account at Wells Fargo in San Diego, when I walked into Wells Fargo in Hong Kong and asked for money from my account they said they couldn't help me, I'd have to open another account in Hong kong, transfer the money and then I could get at it. Since their fees were high, when I returned to the US I closed my accounts with them and moved them to a credit union.

While I lived in Antigua, I maintained my main money in my credit unions in Austin, but opened an account at a local bank so I could get money from their ATM with out fees and write checks to the locals.

Using the Austin credit union cards to get cash was no problem. Once I got it established wiring money from one to the other was just a slight hassle.
__________________
Frimi Captain
Tom Bodine
tbodine88 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2014, 09:13   #13
cat herder, extreme blacksheep
 
zeehag's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: furycame alley , tropics, mexico for now
Boat: 1976 FORMOSA yankee clipper 41
Posts: 17,762
Images: 56
Send a message via Yahoo to zeehag Send a message via Skype™ to zeehag
Re: How to Handle Bank Account/ Debit Card while Long Term Cruising... Need Insight

them big big bail out banks have a bad attitude. i use a small bank..not one of the bailout boys. they will mail to my mailing address, which is my brother, he also rags on me when i overdraw..lol.. and then he repackages it to send to me...the key is repackage it. my bro sends me mine via dhl overnite. it takes 4-6 days here to receive . but it does get here.
i have back upnow, with paypal. i have the credit card they have, and i can use that to get cash some places. is a backed up by me card so i dont do credit i cannot afford..and, until i open a scotia bank account, i have a vbackup plan. btdt with wholly sheets already....
zeehag is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2014, 09:34   #14
cruiser

Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 81
Re: How to Handle Bank Account/ Debit Card while Long Term Cruising... Need Insight

i use a schwabb non-resident account,totally tax-free and ATM fee free. the best eal i have found globally except HCBC ex-pat account. as far as ATM fees the schwabb non-resident account with visa access is the best. fairwinds and godspeed.
__________________
su2014 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2014, 20:16   #15
Registered User
 
bella's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Old SouthEast
Posts: 244
Re: How to Handle Bank Account/ Debit Card while Long Term Cruising... Need Insight

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwedeking2 View Post

Another warning, I was told by my bank (Bank of Hawai'i) that they don't allow mail forwarders to forward the cards when they are sent out. I don't know how valid this statement is as I changed my address to a friends house at that point and then she will just send it on to me. But I was surprised by this (isn't this the point of having a mail forwarding service?).

.
Last Mail forwarding service I had, St. Brendans, repackaged all my mail into a manilla envelope. My dtr now does my forwarding, she does the same. Never had a forwarding service that did not put all the mail into one envelope.

I use USAA Savings Bank and Navy Federal Credit Union. With USAA have a travel checking account that I can only add money to, not transfer to my main account. I never keep more in it than I am willing to have skimmed. USAA is esp johnny on the spot about keeping an eye on my accounts if I notify them I am out of the country. Both banks are great to do business with and offer out of the US phone numbers. I can use either of them web bill pay to pay my bills or just go directly online and do so. Capitol One is very very good to do business with both bank and credit cards. I only keep small amounts of cash on me, and try to use my credit cards for larger purchases.

I have friends who swear by Scotia Bank others like HSBC, not sure if they are still around in Mexico tho.

Zee is correct about using bank ATM's..otoh, I got skimmed for an extra $200 recently AT a bank atm in Cozumel while diving. Proved my foresight in that travel account was wise..
__________________

__________________
bella is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
cruising, long term cruising

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Mediterranean bank ATM & debit cards Seadog54 Boat Ownership & Making a Living 1 26-06-2014 16:44
Cash, Credit Card, Bahamian Bank Card? Lynx Dollars & Cents 26 18-06-2009 09:19



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 12:37.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.