What are some newer international banking options for travelers?
February 17, 2014 9:35 AM Subscribe
After trying to deal with Wells Fargo's atrocious service and policies, I'm ready to look at other banking options when traveling.
posted by Telf to Work & Money (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I tried to keep the details short, but things got a bit wordy. Actual question comes in about half way down.
I work outside of the US and travel quite a bit through SE Asia. During my last trip to the US, I closed some old credit union accounts and combined my meager assets into a Wells Fargo account. I thought a larger bank might give me better service when abroad.
After dealing with Wells Fargo for a few months, I am honestly astounded at how terrible they are when helping customers who are currently abroad. Without explaining all the details, let it be said that I am canceling my account and will never work with them again.
I guess I've been spoiled by using banks in countries outside the US, but there are a few things that really surprised me:
1. I couldn't control my own ATM withdrawal limit. I was forced to keep an extremely low withdrawal limit that couldn't cover my daily expenses. I'm not rich by any means, but between hotels, and eating, the daily limit was literally too small for me to live off of.
2. This was accompanied by excessive ATM fees. $5 from Wells Fargo and $5 from banks in country. This cost me an additional $200.00 over course of my most recent trip due to the incredibly small withdrawal limit.
3. Difficulty in transferring money to other accounts, both international and US accounts. Wells Fargo doesn't not allow simple transfers between even other US banks. There are other services with additional fees that involve 3rd parties and emails and mobile phones, but nothing bank to bank.
4. Terrible access to my own money.
5. No complaints department. Only a snail mail address, obviously worthless when abroad. No email, no phone number.
6. No communication between service reps, online service or home branch. I ended up making 20+ phones calls and needed to explain my situation every time. There was no option to add notes or flags to my account or to reference previous emails or phone calls.
As there is no way to make a formal complaint, let me take an extra second to say: Do not use Wells Fargo if you travel. It's like being back in the 1980s and being forced to rely on traveler's cheques. (Which one customer service rep recommended.)
I'm looking for international banking options that allow flexible transfers and gives me control over my own ATM withdrawal limits. No international ATM fees would be a plus as well.
I'm not talking about millions of dollars here. I've got a pretty humble job and just want to be able to access my money across different countries. This isn't any sort of money laundering or tax evasion, I imagine the amounts aren't even a blip on the radar. This account would rarely be above 10,000 USD. It's an account I'd like to keep mostly for travel. I end up in some developing areas, so access to cash over relying on credit is important.
No excessive or irrational fees. (Or at least a way to have them waved later.)
Able to set my own cash withdrawal daily limit at ATMs.
Ability to use both Swift Codes and or ABA banking numbers.
Good online services are a plus.
Does anyone have any suggestions? I'd like an international bank with a big presence in SE Asia.