What kind of bank
accounts do I need when living overseas?
Should I get
an international ATM card?
Rule #1 - Keep it simple - don't go chasing after
"offshore" accounts and other fancy banking schemes that
will cost you a small fortune in fees - and that are
only interested in you if you have several hundred
thousand dollars, at a minimum.
a bank account with free "Bill Pay" service that is
totally accessible via the Internet. Even your local
credit union can do this nowadays. Find a bank or
credit union that also offers other financial services
such as life insurance, bill payments via "EFT", and/or
investment accounts. All easy to do in this
up your Accounts
Arrange these accounts BEFORE you leave your home
country. Some are quite difficult to set up from
overseas. Once they are set up - it is easy to attend
to your financial affairs, even financial planning, from
anywhere in the world.
International ATM Card
Make sure you get an international ATM card to go with
your account. It should belong to one of the
international systems such as Cirrus or Maestro.
Traveller's Cheques are old hat these days - good
international ATM cards work almost everywhere. I've
never had a problem with mine.
ATM cards are far more
useful than Traveler's Checks (the other spelling!) - as
you can withdraw funds whenever you need them - wherever
you are. I haven't used a Traveler's Check since about
1989. Haven't needed one - and they are far too much
With your bank account on line and a related ATM card,
you will find your finances greatly simplified. I wire
money home to my account, withdraw it as needed via my
ATM card, pay my bills with the Bill Pay service, and
even move money in and out of my brokerage account, to
and from my
bank. All on line, from the comfort of my
living room. All of this is even interconnected
with my PayPal account as I don't like to use my credit
cards on the Internet.
Many people fear identity theft or other security issues
when managing their
finances online. Ideally, you
should use your home computer. Get one. If you use an
Internet Cafe, be sure you carefully close all windows
and sign out of each account. Open them again before
you leave to make sure that you did. They should open
to the log-in page - not directly to your account.
wouldn't believe how many people's accounts I have had
access to when using public computers at airports. They
simply forgot to log off! Pay attention - it's your