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How to set up a US Dollar account from the UK?
December 4, 2006 4:26 AM   Subscribe

Like many UK people, I earn some money in dollars: Adsense and Cafepress mostly. Whilst the exchange rate is poor, it would make a sense to leave this money in the US and only collect, as and when the rate changes significantly in my favour. Any one got any experience with a UK based person setting up US dollar savings account with good interest?
posted by robmanuel to Work & Money (11 answers total)
 
I imagine most U.S. retail banks will not touch you with a ten-foot pole if you are not a U.S. resident. Even if you can get a U.S. address somehow, most of them are going to want a Social Security Number to open an account.

You can open dollar-denominated accounts with a few UK high street banks (such as HSBC) or Citibank UK. They may have unfavorable minimums, fees, or interest rates though.

only collect, as and when the rate changes significantly in my favour.

You don't know when that is going to happen. It may never happen. The only real way to win is to avoid transferring money back and forth. So if you wanted to spend money in the U.S. it would be best to spend it in the dollars you have rather than get dinged on an international transaction fee both ways.

Otherwise, unless you are earning a lot of money it's unlikely that this will be worth the hassle.
posted by grouse at 4:36 AM on December 4, 2006


I have a dollar current account running alonside my Citibank UK sterling current account. There's no fee to deposit dollar cheques. There is some minimum amount you're supposed to keep across all accounts, but whatever it is it never affects me (I get an OK but not amazing London salary and pay the usual exorbitant rent on a flat, so my balance is often not that high.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:47 AM on December 4, 2006


Depends how much money it is, but the cheapest solution may well end up being keeping a Paypal dolllar balance, buying things on amazon.com instead of amazon.co.uk (for example) and transferring into your sterling account when you see fit to do so.

Anti money-laundering regulations will probably prevent you opening a US bank account - I was unable to open an account in France (a fellow EU member, even) for the same reasons.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:19 AM on December 4, 2006


If it is at all possible, your best chance might be if some of that dollar income somehow qualifies you to join a credit union. From my experience, once you become a member, you're in as long as you keep an account.

Another possibility might be found by having an American stock brokerage account.
posted by Goofyy at 5:59 AM on December 4, 2006


I used to be resident in the US, but have returned to the UK for a year working for the same company so I still get paid in dollars. While I still have my US bank account, I've set up a dollar account with Barclays and have my salary paid into this account and then move it into my current account (also with Barclays) as and when I need the money. It's much easier this way and you only have to deal with one financial institution. (It is a requirement that you have a current account with Barclays to have the dollar account.) Other Ask mefi threads on this subject were also really helpful - I don't have them to hand, but a keyword search would most likely bring them up.
posted by poissonrouge at 9:11 AM on December 4, 2006


[USians in this thread thus far may not be aware that the dollar is pushing towards a low point this week that it's not seen since the oil crises of the 1970s. The dollar:sterling rate is nudging $2, and the dollar:euro rate is similarly ridiculous.]

In the interests of pursuing cause rather than effect...

Why are you taking US Adsense money when you could be taking sterling? Stop doing that.

And I heartily recommend Spreadshirt as a replacement for Cafepress. They pay in first-world currencies instead of DC Pesos, and their T-shirts are much less crappy to boot.
posted by genghis at 12:53 PM on December 4, 2006


Ooops. Totally didn't notice who'd asked the question.

Since you're probably doing more sales than the average, I doubt you'd have any trouble getting some face-time with the local bank manager.

Think of dollar accounts as just like the Euro ones every git on TV was going on about a few years back. Even if they're a bit rare and only available in London, or even only in the city branches, then you personally will be OK.

(And if you ever find yourself in the Kentish Town Barclays, shoot everyone and torch the gaff for me, will you? Bunch of bastards. kthx.)
posted by genghis at 2:04 PM on December 4, 2006


Playing these games is basically speculating in currency. If you're that confident that the dollar will continue to slide, you should invest in it. If you're not, this could easily backfire on you as the dollar goes back up and you wish you had transferred it to pounds at the current rate.
posted by smackfu at 4:32 PM on December 4, 2006


Playing these games is basically speculating in currency.

An acquaintance of mine was doing a PhD in mathematical finance studying the forex market and that's what he told me as well. If you're a small fish, the only way to win is to play as little as possible.
posted by grouse at 4:38 PM on December 4, 2006


"Playing these games is basically speculating in currency. If you're that confident that the dollar will continue to slide, you should invest in it."

Actually if you're in the UK, as Rob is, it's exactly the other way around. It's only worth holding onto US pesos if you think they'll gain in value.

I think most of us are reasonably certain that the dollar can't stay this low forever.
posted by genghis at 4:47 PM on December 8, 2006


I second game warden's comment: Citibank can open a USD bank account in the UK that clears through New York. Colleague has one with RBOS.
posted by arcticseal at 8:44 AM on December 9, 2006


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