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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a couple of questions about money... right now, I have a US bank account, which I will keep open while in France (we will be there for 18 months). And of course, I also plan to open a French bank account, so I can do daily transactions in euros .

First, what is the best way to start the bank account? Will they accept a check from my US account (made out in dollars or euros?)? I will be paid in euros, which will fund this account after the initial opening.

Next, we plan to keep investing in our roth IRA while gone. Since our pay will be in euros, we would ideally like to transfer some amount (say, 500 euros) to our US bank account each month, which would then be put into our brokerage account. But I don't want to pay a large fee each time we do this. Is there a cheap way to transfer money?

Basically, since we'll only be in France a limited amount of time, we don't want to invest in France itself, and we want to hold the majority of our savings in USD. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

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I have a couple of questions about money... right now, I have a US bank account, which I will keep open while in France (we will be there for 18 months). And of course, I also plan to open a French bank account, so I can do daily transactions in euros .

First, what is the best way to start the bank account? Will they accept a check from my US account (made out in dollars or euros?)? I will be paid in euros, which will fund this account after the initial opening.

Next, we plan to keep investing in our roth IRA while gone. Since our pay will be in euros, we would ideally like to transfer some amount (say, 500 euros) to our US bank account each month, which would then be put into our brokerage account. But I don't want to pay a large fee each time we do this. Is there a cheap way to transfer money?

Basically, since we'll only be in France a limited amount of time, we don't want to invest in France itself, and we want to hold the majority of our savings in USD. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
I have successfully used Everbank in the US - you can open both a checking account and a Euro account in the US. Transfers into and out of the Everbank accounts are free - they even pay interest on credit balances. The only fees you are likely to incur will be transfers from a French account to the US charged by the French bank.

Cheers
 

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To open a bank account, you actually don't need much of a deposit. You can open the account (takes an appointment at the bank) and then give the necessary information to your employer to have your pay direct deposited to the account. (Though it's probably best to have 100€ or so - in cash - to open the account. Use a credit card at an ATM in France or get a small stash in cash from the airport exchange counter.)

Don't use US checks to open an account. The fees for processing the check are enormous and you will have to wait a week or more for the funds to clear.

Unless you've got something like the Everbank deal David mentioned, don't plan on making small transfers between the US and France. The fees will eat up whatever you have to transfer. What you might want to do is set up a tax-free (for France, at least) savings account (a livret) with your French bank. Transfer your 500 euros each month to the livret (usually can be done online) and then make one big annual transfer to your Roth IRA. (Or wait until you return to the US and make the transfer then - IIRC Roth IRA contributions aren't tax deductible anyhow, so there's no time pressure about when you make the transfer.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I will look into Everbank, sounds interesting.

Also, I didn't know about the livret. That sounds like a really good option, and the savings rates are better than what's available in the US right now. Thanks!
 

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I use HSBC in the US and in France. Very easy to move money back and forth as required.
Yes, easy but they charge fees, commmision etc. Everbank - no fees at all!

It's your money :rolleyes:
 

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I can attest that planning to send money back/forth regularly is probably going to be cost-prohibitive due to the international transactions fees charged by most banks... Yes, grouping it and sending one-time is going to make more sense probably, since the fees are per transaction and not percentage based... But also keep in mind the exchange rate; it might make sense for you to make such a transaction at one certain time versus another. Or, depending on your confidence in the euro, just keep the money in a bank here, and plan to come back for a vacation sometime down the line!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Hey everyone,

I wanted to update you all on a solution I've found: xe.com

XE allows you to transfer money (or trade currencies) between bank accounts in different currencies. They don't charge any fees (as long as you use EFT instead of wire, although wire is maybe a day or two faster). They make their money on the spread between buy and sell, but the conversion rates seem to be very very good.

So far, I have only used to to make an initial deposit to my landlord on an apartment in France, since I don't have a French bank account yet. But, I plan to use it to easily transfer money back and forth at a good rate... I would like to try to move money each month, to dollar-cost-average the fluctuation of the euro vs. dollar rate.

The signup process is a bit intense. They want to avoid any kind of money laundering I guess, so they really verify your identity (I had to send a notarized copy of my passport and explain why I wanted the account).

Thanks for everyone's suggestions!
 

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Hey everyone,

I wanted to update you all on a solution I've found: xe. com

XE allows you to transfer money (or trade currencies) between bank accounts in different currencies. They don't charge any fees (as long as you use EFT instead of wire, although wire is maybe a day or two faster). They make their money on the spread between buy and sell, but the conversion rates seem to be very very good.

So far, I have only used to to make an initial deposit to my landlord on an apartment in France, since I don't have a French bank account yet. But, I plan to use it to easily transfer money back and forth at a good rate... I would like to try to move money each month, to dollar-cost-average the fluctuation of the euro vs. dollar rate.

The signup process is a bit intense. They want to avoid any kind of money laundering I guess, so they really verify your identity (I had to send a notarized copy of my passport and explain why I wanted the account).

Thanks for everyone's suggestions!
Hi Erin,

We're trying to find a way to close our bank account in France and transfer the funds back to the US, but so far our US-based credit unions and banks and our bank in France have been unable to help us. We're trying to move about 500 euros.

Have you had success transferring money from a French account to a US account using xe. com?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi Volvo,

To be honest, I haven't actually transferred money from the French account to the US one yet. What I have found out about xe.com is that the ACH/EFT option is only available going from the $ to Euro, not the other way around... you must use the wire transfer option going from euro to $. It seems that in this case, xe still doesn't charge anything, but your banks might charge some small fee for wire transfers. This may still be a better deal than going through the banks, because the exchange rate is probably better with xe.

I would say it's worth a try if your French bank refuses to help you (which is understandable... it took about 3 months of back and forth before they would allow me to make wire transfers to my landlord here).
 

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Hi Volvo,

To be honest, I haven't actually transferred money from the French account to the US one yet. What I have found out about xe.com is that the ACH/EFT option is only available going from the $ to Euro, not the other way around... you must use the wire transfer option going from euro to $. It seems that in this case, xe still doesn't charge anything, but your banks might charge some small fee for wire transfers. This may still be a better deal than going through the banks, because the exchange rate is probably better with xe.

I would say it's worth a try if your French bank refuses to help you (which is understandable... it took about 3 months of back and forth before they would allow me to make wire transfers to my landlord here).
See my comments earlier, you can use Everbank both ways, no fees or commissions. And my bank here (Soc Gen) allows me to set up external accounts (in the Eurozone) to send money to, Everbank has a Swiss routing which works so I get no French fees either

Cheers
 

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Hi Erin,

We're trying to find a way to close our bank account in France and transfer the funds back to the US, but so far our US-based credit unions and banks and our bank in France have been unable to help us. We're trying to move about 500 euros.

Have you had success transferring money from a French account to a US account using xe. com?
If the amount you're transferring is only 500 € you may not want to bother with a wire transfer at all. Most banks will charge you at least 25€ or so for that, possibly on each end of the transaction. It might be easier to hand carry a check or withdraw the amount in traveller's cheques or something. (Do they still do travellers' cheques nowadays?)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Bevdeforges said:
If the amount you're transferring is only 500 € you may not want to bother with a wire transfer at all. Most banks will charge you at least 25€ or so for that, possibly on each end of the transaction. It might be easier to hand carry a check or withdraw the amount in traveller's cheques or something. (Do they still do travellers' cheques nowadays?)
Cheers,
Bev
We'll have to do some more investigation into the fees from xe and ever bank. We can no longer hand carry the check (or cash, for that matter) since we've already come back to the US. In hindsight it was a poor decision, but we left the account open since we were hoping to return to France this year. I do have family that lives in the UK though, so perhaps we can get the money to her somehow.
 

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I would definitely look to set up a regular payment plan with an independent currency provider as they don't charge fees where a bank typically charges 30 GBP (equivalent). Thus, 30x12= 360 GBP saved a year. Try thetranspert.com - they will allow you to put your question before a professional at no cost....
 

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I would definitely look to set up a regular payment plan with an independent currency provider as they don't charge fees where a bank typically charges 30 GBP (equivalent). Thus, 30x12= 360 GBP saved a year. Try thetranspert.com - they will allow you to put your question before a professional at no cost....
You can lead the horse to water :rolleyes:
 

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We'll have to do some more investigation into the fees from xe and ever bank. We can no longer hand carry the check (or cash, for that matter) since we've already come back to the US. In hindsight it was a poor decision, but we left the account open since we were hoping to return to France this year. I do have family that lives in the UK though, so perhaps we can get the money to her somehow.
One other somewhat off the wall suggestion would be to use your CB/credit card on that account to run the balance down and then close the account by mail.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I use HSBC in the US and in France. Very easy to move money back and forth as required.
I'm from the UK and use HSBC too. They have a "Global View" system so that you can see all your accounts in one place online. If you upgrade/are a good enough customer to have an Advance or Premier account, then transfers between accounts and currencies are completely free. You only need to qualify in one country (probably the US for you) as a Premier customer to automatically qualify everywhere!

HSBC isn't a particularly big bank here in France just yet, but they have a few branches in major cities and larger towns so it's worth looking in to and really saved me when I moved over here!
 
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