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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello,
It looks like I will be moving to the UAE in January to work at a school in Al Ain. Since I was laid off and unemployed for a few months I have some credit card bills which I want to pay off once I am settled in my job. Is there any difficulty paying US credit card bills from a foreign bank account? Also, if I open an account now with Citibank (which has a branch near my apartment in NY and also in Al Ain), can I keep the same account once I arrive or do I need to close my current US bank account(with Capital One bank) and bring my money in cash to open an account in the UAE?
 

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You'll have to pay U.S. credit card bills in funds drawn on a U.S. financial institution. Thus it would be prudent to maintain your U.S. bank account. Transfer funds from your UAE account to your U.S. account, then pay your credit card(s) from there (online). If you can consolidate your credit card bills and take advantage of a temporary interest free waiver period before you go, so much the better.

To transfer funds you can use traditional banking services such as wires, or you can use money transfer specialists such as (in no particular order) CurrencyFair, Xoom, XE Trade, etc. The latter are likely to offer lower costs. Be sure to check all fees and their exchange rate spreads, including any fees for sending and receiving to/from your bank.

Yet another way to pay bills in the U.S. is to ask your UAE financial institution to issue a demand draft (a.k.a. foreign draft) in U.S. dollars. This is a paper check drawn on your bank's U.S. partner bank (or U.S. branch in the case of Citibank). Again, check fees and expenses. You may be able to deposit this check into your own account (if made payable to you) using the new "deposit by smartphone" service that many U.S. banks now offer. Keep in mind that service generally has a fairly low limit, so you cannot use it for checks in large amounts.

Visa and MasterCard have introduced remittance services in certain countries which allow sending money in the form of a credit to any recipient's Visa or MasterCard account (debit or credit). There's no reason why it cannot be your own account. The fees and exchange rates are generally pretty good where this service is offered. However, I don't think the U.S. is participating yet as a destination country, so I don't think this service will work in your situation. You can check, though. Here in Singapore the Post Office offers the service via the Visa network, and it's called Visa Personal Payments. I think one of the major banks offers the MasterCard equivalent.
 

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As a reminder, as a U.S. person you will continue to be subject to U.S. tax and tax-related reporting requirements, notably FBAR. Citibank UAE accounts require FBARs (assuming you meet the filing threshold).
 
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