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Transferring Money as an Expat

Transferring Money as an Expat

In the last seven years, I’ve lived in five different countries and traveled to over 20 more. That’s a whole lotta currencies.

Every time we move to a new country, we have to deal with closing bank accounts, figuring out how to transfer money to new bank accounts, whether we should send some back to savings accounts back home, and how to do it all without paying obscene fees.

It’s a massive pain in the butt. I dread to think how much money I have lost in transfer fees over the years just trying to take my money with me around the world.

I get questions a lot from you guys about how I take money with me when I travel or how I move money when I start living somewhere new, so I thought I’d put together a post with different ways that I’ve discovered over the past few years to minimize fees and make money transferring as painless as possible.

Use the Same Bank

So many banks have branches all over the world these days. When I lived in New Zealand, I used a bank called ANZ. When I moved to Australia, I was able to open a bank account there with the exact same bank and transfer all of my money without paying any fees.

When we were getting ready to leave Australia, I opened a Citibank account and put pretty much all of my money in there. Citibank is in SO many countries around the world. You get free withdrawals from any Citibank ATM worldwide, which has also saved me tons of money.

Then when I moved to Korea, I opened a Citibank account again. This meant I could freely move money between the two accounts without any extra fees incurred.

When I traveled all over Asia, I was able to use that Citibank bank card at Citibanks all over Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and even Vietnam.

Be sure to check if the name of your bank is slightly different in the country you’re moving to. For instance, Citibank in Mexico is called Banamex, but it still gives me all the same perks, allowing me to transfer money between my other Citibank account back home.

Paypal

I know some people don’t love Paypal, but since a lot of the companies I work with prefer to pay this way, I’ve come to love it.

I often keep several hundred dollars in my Paypal account at any given time because I can use it in any currency without paying an extra fee. The exchange rates they give aren’t terrible and I can use it on so many different websites.

You can also hook it up to your bank account so instead of using your debit card and having your bank charge you a fee for using a different currency, Paypal removes it in whatever currency it’s in and converts it for you.

Money Transfers

If you are sending a lot of money back to bank accounts in your home country because you know you’re going to be moving countries soon (or whatever reason you have), money transfers can be one of the best options.

In lieu of using Paypal, a lot of international companies have started paying their contractors (me included) using a website called Transferwise. This website allows you to send money abroad to different bank accounts.

There are so many websites like this one out there that allow you to send money to different bank accounts without having to go through your bank (and therefore pay a huge fee). I found a really great comparison website recently called Moneytransfercomparison.com. They actually specialize in helping expats send money home to their families or to your own bank accounts back home.

I would have loved something like this when I was living in Korea. We had to make sure our bank accounts were totally empty before our visas expired and our bank limited how much we could send at a time. I was getting pretty stressed by the time we were getting ready to leave.

The comparison website basically allows you to compare different companies that help you transfer money based on where you are and where you are sending it to.

I did a quick comparison of sending money from Mexico to the US and it recommended that I use a company called World First. The process of signing up with some of these companies is slightly more thorough than simply transferring money with your bank, but it keeps your money safe and protects all of your bank information, which is something I was initially concerned about.

Do Your Research

The biggest tip I can give is to do your research. Check which bank accounts are best for you and the country you’re in. The fees you pay and what works best for you will depend so much on where you are and where you want the money to go.

How do you save money when you are trying to travel or move abroad with your cash? 

This post is sponsored by Moneytransfercomparison.com, but all opinions and love for saving money are my own.

Rob (Expat Financial Guy)

Thursday 22nd of March 2018

Great article and excellent tip on the comparison website!

I know I've certainly paid over the going rate when moving money between countries, simply because I didn't shop around. Sometimes, the options are limited, especially in countries with currency restrictions, like China and Malaysia, but, as you rightly recommend, it really makes sense to do your research first, because some methods are considerably cheaper than others.