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A few other posts here, and a flurry of comment in other expat forums, express recent concern about the new spate of bank fees impacting expats who need to access their resources in US financial institutions. Mostly, the causes and extent of changes have not been mentioned. Here's some background.

You probably recall the huge Wall Street reform bill passed a few years ago. This provided new “consumer protections” applicable to the banking and financial services industries. Among many, many other things, the legislation amended a part of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, known as Regulation E. This regulation codifies tighter standards for “remittance transfers,” essentially ANY movement of US funds sent into a foreign country. This regulation finally became effective at the end of October 2013. Hence all the recent changes in fee structure that have been experienced by folks using B of A to access their funds.

The new rule affects any remittance transfer of more than $15, and specifies additional disclosures and tracking requirements. The additional fees and service changes we're seeing are reactions of the institutions as they change procedures, software, and intermediaries to comply, and also offset their (presumed) higher transaction costs. The rule affects banks, thrifts, credit unions, money transmitters and broker-dealers. Bank wires, ACH transfers – all are affected. Fees now coming into play are in addition to those due to exchange rates, although they may appear as a single charge on your bank statement. How this will affect cross-border credit card processing is anybody's guess.

Personally, I'm holding off bailing out of Citi-BanamexUSA (which just stopped doing bill-pay and free transfers into a SoB peso Banamex account) and jumping right away to another institution (with all the hassle that entails). It's just not clear yet how the service providers which have been mentioned as having historic low-fee structures (Fidelity, Schwab, Capital One, Banorte-INB, etc) will eventually choose to comply with the rule change. If we are fortunate, maybe some of them will absorb (some/all?) of the extra costs. Time will tell.
 

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Thanks for the heads-up Azuledos. I have been a Schwab International client here in Mexico for some 13 years but opened the accounts in the U.S. before moving here. Schwab provides service charge free wire transfers to any finnaciial institution we choose in Mexico or anywhere else in the world and we also cash Schwab One checks without hassle or fees at such intermediaries as INTERCAM anywhere they have an office in Mexico. All ATM fees charged for ATM transactions at bank-connected ATMs anywhere in the world are also immediately refunded to us. We have heard of no proposal by Schwab to alter these long-standing benefits we have enjoyed as their clients. We will remain alet for changes but do not anticipate any as of yet and will be amazed if Schwab starts imposing new fees but, who knows.

One thing of which people should be aware. If you are a resident of Mexico and not a dual resident of both, say, Mexico and the United States; you may find it quite difficult if not impossible to close your present banking relationship and open a new one at another U.S. financial institution because of the continuing ramifications of the Patriot Act. Despite the potentially onerous new charges that may be imposed by your present bank, compliance with those new charges may be preferable to trying to change financial institutions to save a few bucks. Proceed with immense caution.

In the final analysis, perhaps the strange bedfellows of Bin Laden and the Wall Street bankers actually won their mutual crusades.
 
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