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What to Expect When Banking Abroad

Getting all your ducks in a row when moving or retiring abroad can take some time.  Once you’ve gone through the necessary hassle of opening a bank account overseas, the hard part is pretty much over and you’ve conquered a big hurdle.  However, when banking abroad, you’ll gain a whole new perspective on how accommodating banks are back home

So now you’ve got your account and you finally received your ATM card and checks (these may or may not be automatically provided).  What’s next?

The important thing you want to keep in mind before using either your card or a check is that probably no matter what you do, there’s going to be a banking fee associated with it.  This includes common transactions like an ATM cash withdraw, so when in doubt, assume there will be a charge for it.  While it probably won’t be a very large amount, these kinds of things can add up, so minimizing your ATM runs and shopping around for the best bank with the lowest fees ahead of time is key.

The next surprise will come from the online banking capabilities.  First of all, the bank might not even have an online banking platform.  If one is available, then there’s a good chance that this too will be a chargeable service, even if you just want to move money from one of your accounts to the other.

Your ATM card could have some special limitations as well.  In many cases, just having the privilege of using one will cost you a small monthly fee.  Additionally, there is usually a limit on the daily or weekly withdraw amount you can make, so you’ll have to get use to going into the bank more often.  Finally, overdraft protection – where the bank will cover the amount for a fee when you use your card with insufficient funds – is virtually nonexistent.

Even though the world is becoming more comfortable with plastic, checks are still used quite regularly abroad.  So bust out that calculator and ledger because whatever you do, you don’t want to have a check bounce for insufficient funds when in another country.  Remember how overdraft protection isn’t available for your card?  This is especially true for checks and can even be considered a punishable crime in some countries.

No matter what the circumstances are, whenever you’re banking overseas, don’t be the “But I didn’t know” guy.  Always have a firm grip on your finances and keep a close watch on your account so you know where you stand.

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