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Top Checking Accounts for U.S. Expats Living Abroad

The other day, after noting that Chase bank had charged me $12 service charge for not having maintained the minimum balance I decided to google the phrase used in the subject line in this thread. Of course, If I had a monthly pension deposited in this account I could avoid this fee as well. But alas, I don´t.

I came across an article on Investopedia that had the following financial institutions listed as their top ten:

Capital One
Charles Schwab Bank
Citibank
HSBC
Alliant Credit Union
First Republic Bank
Ally Bank
Connexus Credit Union
Navy Federal Credit Union
Fidelity Investments

The Capital One was at the top of the list and had the following description associated with it:

Expats can use the Capital One 360 interest-bearing checking solution offered by Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF) without paying maintenance, foreign transaction or ATM fees. Account owners can set up direct deposits and link 360 checking to investment accounts at Capital One to manage their portfolios online.

I tried to open an account online at capitalone360.com this past weekend. It was necessary to establish a vpn to the U.S.A to get through the screens, but at the end of the process it said due to security concerns I would need to call to finish the process. So today I called and finished the process of opening the account.  My mailing address in the U.S. is a private mail box with U.S. Global Mail. . They had no problem with that. They do not allow p.o. boxes, however.

While clearly I can avoid the maintenance fee with this account, I will be curious to see what, if any, fee I will be charge for using the ATM. I currently am dinged $5 with Chase bank each time I use the ATM.

Well, one disadvantage of the capital one 360 checking account is you cannot send international wire transfers.  I never do,  but it is an option nice to have.

How do I initiate a wire transfer?
You can only send a wire transfer to your linked external checking account or a title company in the U.S.

Also I believe that Citibank has two locations in Ecuador, Quito and Guayaquil.

Citibank also has a fairly expansive bricks & mortar global presence, including these latin American countries -

Argentina
Bahamas
Barbados
Brazil
Cayman Islands
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Guatemala
Haiti
Honduras
Jamaica
Mexico
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Puerto Rico
Trinidad and Tobago
Uruguay
Venezuela

gardener1 :

Also I believe that Citibank has two locations in Ecuador, Quito and Guayaquil.

A good reason to consider them, I would say.

Citibank apparently charges a maintenance fee of $12 if your average balance falls below $1,500, which is the same as Chase.    However, for those over 62 years old they apparently wave that fee.

I know at one point in time Charles Schwab charged no fees, and also any atm fees were refunded at the end of the month. Was thinking of opening an account for international travel, but never did. That was a few years ago. Don't know if they are still charging no fees, and returning atm fees.
Should add that was if you used their debit card.

j600rr :

I know at one point in time Charles Schwab charged no fees, and also any atm fees were refunded at the end of the month. Was thinking of opening an account for international travel, but never did. That was a few years ago. Don't know if they are still charging no fees, and returning atm fees.
Should add that was if you used their debit card.

Just Created an account at Charles Schwab online. I activated a VPN on my computer before going starting the process, and for my U.S. Global Mail address in Houston I had to remove the letters "PMB" since they flagged this as a  p.o. box which is not allowed.

So, with two checking accounts created online, I just need to the ATM cards sent to Ecuador and fund those accounts to make a test.  I will update this thread once that happens.

Nards Barley :
j600rr :

I know at one point in time Charles Schwab charged no fees, and also any atm fees were refunded at the end of the month. Was thinking of opening an account for international travel, but never did. That was a few years ago. Don't know if they are still charging no fees, and returning atm fees.
Should add that was if you used their debit card.

Just Created an account at Charles Schwab online. I activated a VPN on my computer before going starting the process, and for my U.S. Global Mail address in Houston I had to remove the letters "PMB" since they flagged this as a  p.o. box which is not allowed.

So, with two checking accounts created online, I just need to the ATM cards sent to Ecuador and fund those accounts to make a test.  I will update this thread once that happens.

Look forward to the update. Do they still refund any ATM fees at the end of the month? Also forgot to mention that there was no maximum withdrawls (I think), or it was something like 3k you could withdrawl in a day. Not that you would need that, but was a nice just in case option. Wound up not getting one for myself, but that was more because my shedule was pretty busy, and wasn't traveling nearly as much as used to. By in large most of the reviews from people that I read were positive for Schwab. Still might wind up getting an account from them in the future.

I went online to Charles Schwab in order to complete the process of funding the account and was unable to due to a hold placed on my account and that I needed to call the the account verification department.   I was told that they determined that had used a private mail box for my residential address and that I needed an actual residential mailing address.  So I am dead in the water for now..............

Nards wrote: 

I was told that they determined that had used a private mail box for my residential address and that I needed an actual residential mailing address.  So I am dead in the water for now..............

I use USGlobalMail for my regular mail needs. When I've encountered a similar situation I've used the home address of a niece who I trust completely. I do make sure I let her know ahead of time that I'm doing it and with which agency or organization.

Nards posted:

I was told that they determined that had used a private mail box for my residential address and that I needed an actual residential mailing address.  So I am dead in the water for now.


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Since you were attempting to use a GlobalMail address in Texas, this situation may signal a change in the level of scrutiny that  USA-based shippers are giving to Expats.

At least in the case of Schwab, which historically was Expat-friendly especially in terms of eliminating / reversing ATM charges for overseas withdrawals.

cccmedia

A friend of mine emailed me this link. I don't know anything about them, but interesting concept since its purpose is to allow people to avoid fees related to transfering money.

https://www.friendlytransfer.com/home.aspx

https://ptmoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Capital-One-360-Checking-Review.png

I used my new debit card from CapitalOne360.com yesterday at the Banco Pichincha on Solano and withdrew $20.  No ATM fee has hit my account as of yet, so that is a good sign. I assume if they don't charge me within the first 24 hours, they won't.

Of course they put a hold on my account afterwards, probably because I am in Ecuador. I need to call to tell them............

Another interesting thing I did for the first time was deposit a check into this account by signing it, scanning both sides and then uploading the image to their website   Of course, it wouldn't surpise me if I never have another paper check to deposit again since most everything I do now is electronically.

Used my Capital One card in Europe and Asia, never got a foreign transaction fee.

Turns out the hold on my account was from the check I uploaded. They wanted to confirm the nature given the fact it was an out of state check.  Of course they think I live in Houston Texas and that check was cut from Pennsylvania I think........

Makes sense it wasn´t the ATM card that caused the hold since I had filled out the form online indicating I was currently "traveling" in Ecuador.

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