Being an expatriate can have its moments. Travelling abroad, meeting new people experiencing different cultures, and most importantly different ways of doing things. Spending part of your career working abroad can open your eyes, expand your horizons, and can even beef up your skillset through learning new ways of looking at things.
But it does not come without its drawbacks. This becomes apparent if you use a bank that is not present in the country you are staying in. This can definitely get you into some trouble not only because you cannot access your funds immediately, but also if you are using a different currency than that of the country you are currently in. You could be in quite a pickle.
The Benefits of Online Banking
This is where online banking can be of assistance to the individual. Online banking is a system where transactions and applications can be done virtually without ever having to go to a bank building and interact with a teller. And when you wish to withdraw funds, you can simply go to the nearest ATM and take out what you need.
A popular characteristic about online banking is the constant access you can avail. A physical bank building is only open during certain hours of the day, usually business hours. This of course represents an issue if you also happen to work during business hours and cannot find a time to do your banking. Online banking solves this issue.
Another problem expats might run into that online banking solves is a language barrier. The expat might be stationed in a country where they do not know the language very well. Therefore, online banking, which can be done in the language of the users choosing, presents a very convenient solution to this problem by giving users access to services in a language they are comfortable with.
Another major benefit of using online banking is that users can transact in their own currency or an internationally recognized one. If they are living in a country whose currency is not internationally traded, moving funds in and out of banks for personal use might run into some difficulties. By using online banking and even virtual payment methods, this problem is more or less solved.
Tips when Banking Online
One of the main tips given by those who have lived abroad is to bank with a large, reputable bank. This is because the bank is recognized internationally and therefore will inspire confidence in the people you interact with. This can be helpful when using your card at a local store in order for the shopkeeper to be confident that the payment will not bounce.
Larger banks are also able to offer more services due to economies of scale. Many allow use of an account even during a foreign currency transaction whereby a certain conversion rate is applied with a reasonable fee on the top. The larger the bank, the more likely these services expats might need will be offered.
Another important thing to remember is to consult your bank before your move abroad. This is order to smooth out any wrinkles before they happen. Banking rules might be very different in the country you are looking to move to so much so that your bank has a different set of procedures in that country that you might not be familiar with.
So, it is very important that you inform your bank of your move and ask them if there are certain things that need to be done before that date. You might consider changing your address from your local one to the international one in order to continue to receive important pieces of mail from them. Also, the bank will then know of your move and not be surprised once you start using your funds there.
Getting Yourself Started
The first step to take before venturing into online banking is to select a good bank. The most important factor to consider is whether or not the bank actually has branches in the country you plan on going to. Obviously, unless you can easily travel to another country that has branches, you should not bank with someone you cannot have easy access to.
Another factor to consider is whether the bank in question offers the services you will need. It will obviously defeat the purpose if this is not the case. You will first need to list down the services you will need as an expat, and then use that list as a reference to grade the different banks.
Wherever possible, you will want to receive the biggest bang for your buck. Many banks offer high interest savings accounts that you can choose from. Some even offer special deals for certain people, such as students and independent expats. How important this factor depends entirely on your preferences, since this is not exactly a sink or swim issue.
Once you have selected a bank, do be sure to set up the necessary accounts with them. In certain situations, more than one type of account might be necessary. For example, if you are a business owner looking to expand abroad, some transactions will need to be done with a business account and not a personal one.
Seeing the World Safely
Living abroad can be fun and sometimes affordable, but not if the necessary preparations are not done beforehand. Like with any big move, all the major factors must be noted down and taken into consideration. But at some point, you do need to decide if it’s a yes or a no.
The digital age usually makes things easier and banking is no exception. As time goes on, it seems that banking from afar will become ever easier, making it less of a hindrance when making this life-changing decision. Good thing too. This is not exactly the most stress-free decision you will ever have to make.
The Yucatan Times