Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner

1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
226 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'll start with reassuring readers that I've searched past threads on the forum and have learned some things that may be relevant to my situation, but not the main thing.

Background
I need to begin periodically transferring money from my bank (or credit union -- I have both) account in the United States to my bank in France. I'm aware that the most cost-effective transfer mechanism is via companies such as OFX or Transferwise.

Problem
My problem isn't with them, necessarily. It is with my bank in the U.S.

I set up an account with a money transfer company and attempted an initial transaction. It was unsuccessful.

The reason it was unsuccessful is that my bank would not allow me to initiate a wire transfer without visiting a branch office of the bank in person, something I'd rather not spend the few thousand dollars and the better part of a week to do. They refused to let me authorize the transfer via telephone or internet, even when they had satisfied themselves as to my identity.

I then attempted to work with the transfer company to execute an ACH payment, which -- as I understand it -- is where the receiving bank (the transfer company uses a U.S.-based bank to receive funds from U.S. accounts) essentially "pulls" the money from its customer's account (with proper identification and use of bank routing number and account number). That, I thought, would bypass my U.S. bank's queasiness about wire transfers, as it would look like a normal payment from one bank to another within the U.S.

That failed too. It failed because the transfer company said that their policy (or maybe law -- it wasn't clear) would not allow me to authorize an ACH Payment within the U.S. because I live outside the U.S.

So -- I've been told because I live outside the U.S. and it's both cost-prohibitive and extremely disruptive to visit my bank in the western U.S. in person, I cannot:

  1. Push the money from my U.S. bank to another U.S. bank via wire transfer; and

  2. Pull the money to the receiving U.S. bank used by the transfer company from my U.S. bank

In other words, I'm stuck.

So - my question for others possessing more wisdom and experience than I is: how do I resolve this? Is the only way to bite the bullet and travel to the U.S. to set it all up? That's incredible to me.

While any are welcome to respond, of course, I'm seeking primarily information from those with direct experience dealing with U.S. banking institutions while living abroad to facilitate transferring and exchanging money from U.S. dollars to Euros.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,434 Posts
I set up a Transferwise account and transactions without any difficulty, just giving them my bank information in the US. As far as my US bank is concerned, they take the funds like any US company would do in making a standing payment, and they have no idea (or concern) that the money will eventually wind up outside the US.

Do you have a bill payment arrangement with your US bank? It might be possible to "pay" Transferwise or the transfer company at their US address using the bank's bill payment service. I haven't had to go this route, but it was what I was intending to do when I was going to use one of the London based FX services. (Couldn't do that because of issues related to proving my identity to the London office - because of the 5 year extension of French i.d. cards makes it look like my carte d'identité is expired.)

But I had no problem setting up the ACH transfer with Transferwise - and each month the "payment" shows up identified as TransferwiseLtd. Was actually a bit surprised how easily it all went through the first time I did it.

And, before you ask, the bank has only my French address for me on file.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
226 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Well, the transfer company I used initially was not Transferwise. Perhaps I'll give Transferwise a try to see if the outcome is any different.

Thank you for your prompt reply.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,899 Posts
Can't help with details, dear Aly, except to say that it's sad when the technology exists to make world wide transfers very easy and quick, and then the legal/social / political scene makes it difficult.

On the other hand, just give me a US dollar check. Don't worry about the amount, I'll fill it in for you and arrange the transfer. I'll look after the tedious details for you. Of course, there will be a certain amount of fees, charges and expenses. :) :) :)

DejW
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
226 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Can't help with details, dear Aly, except to say that it's sad when the technology exists to make world wide transfers very easy and quick, and then the legal/social / political scene makes it difficult.

On the other hand, just give me a US dollar check. Don't worry about the amount, I'll fill it in for you and arrange the transfer. I'll look after the tedious details for you. Of course, there will be a certain amount of fees, charges and expenses. :) :) :)

DejW
DejW,

I've rarely been presented with such a generous and thoughtful offer. Words fail me.

To get started, let's just have you send me via private message your bank account information, along with any passwords and personal information such as birthdates, mother's maiden name, first pet, favorite Beatle, and so forth, and I'll be sure to start kiting ...er... writing checks to you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
217 Posts
I'll start with reassuring readers that I've searched past threads on the forum and have learned some things that may be relevant to my situation, but not the main thing.

Background
I need to begin periodically transferring money from my bank (or credit union -- I have both) account in the United States to my bank in France. I'm aware that the most cost-effective transfer mechanism is via companies such as OFX or Transferwise.

Problem
My problem isn't with them, necessarily. It is with my bank in the U.S.

I set up an account with a money transfer company and attempted an initial transaction. It was unsuccessful.

The reason it was unsuccessful is that my bank would not allow me to initiate a wire transfer without visiting a branch office of the bank in person, something I'd rather not spend the few thousand dollars and the better part of a week to do. They refused to let me authorize the transfer via telephone or internet, even when they had satisfied themselves as to my identity.

I then attempted to work with the transfer company to execute an ACH payment, which -- as I understand it -- is where the receiving bank (the transfer company uses a U.S.-based bank to receive funds from U.S. accounts) essentially "pulls" the money from its customer's account (with proper identification and use of bank routing number and account number). That, I thought, would bypass my U.S. bank's queasiness about wire transfers, as it would look like a normal payment from one bank to another within the U.S.

That failed too. It failed because the transfer company said that their policy (or maybe law -- it wasn't clear) would not allow me to authorize an ACH Payment within the U.S. because I live outside the U.S.

So -- I've been told because I live outside the U.S. and it's both cost-prohibitive and extremely disruptive to visit my bank in the western U.S. in person, I cannot:

  1. Push the money from my U.S. bank to another U.S. bank via wire transfer; and

  2. Pull the money to the receiving U.S. bank used by the transfer company from my U.S. bank

In other words, I'm stuck.

So - my question for others possessing more wisdom and experience than I is: how do I resolve this? Is the only way to bite the bullet and travel to the U.S. to set it all up? That's incredible to me.

While any are welcome to respond, of course, I'm seeking primarily information from those with direct experience dealing with U.S. banking institutions while living abroad to facilitate transferring and exchanging money from U.S. dollars to Euros.


If you bank with a bank that operates in both countries, and have accounts with them in both, you should be able to make transfers seamlessly. That said, I am only aware of HSBC filing this bill. That is where I bank and you can transfer online or via their app and the transfer is instantaneous, transaction fee-free, and the exchange rate is good.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
From the USA...lived in Canada, the UK, and France
Joined
·
1,285 Posts
Well, the transfer company I used initially was not Transferwise. Perhaps I'll give Transferwise a try to see if the outcome is any different.

Thank you for your prompt reply.
Aloysius

It can work exactly the way you describe...though I think that it’s likely you will have to be in the US to set it up.

The FX service that I use requires that I use wire transfers to put funds into their account from my US bank account. They do not accept EFTs.

My US bank allows me to make wire transfers by telephone because I have
  • Signed an agreement authorizing the wire transfer by phone at a bank branch with a bank officer
  • Specified from which of my bank accounts I will be the sending the money and to which of the FX company’s bank accounts the money will go
Our US bank is a regional bank in the northeast. My bank manager had to do some serious research to discover that the service exists. I expect that some national banks offer wire transfers by phone in a similar way.

Best of luck.

Ray
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
107 Posts
A couple of ideas for you.. I'm sure there will be more.

If this is a relatively small amount < $1000 at a time (since you said it was on a regular basis) you could simply open an account online in the US (would need an address and someone to froward an ATM card to you) with someone like CapitalOne360. They have zero fees for ATM withdraws in any currency, you can then just walk into your French bank plug your card in the ATM, take out $1000 euro walk over to the teller and hand it to them. The only cost would be the $2-3 you pay in ATM fees to that bank.

Another out there extreme idea (not trying to start a discussion). Sign up with two coin exchanges of choice one US based one EU based.. Buy bitcoin/ether etc in the US, send it to yourself at the other exchange in EU, cash it out and transfer. Keep in mind though ACH deposits for US exchanges usually take 1 week to clear before you can buy coins and/or withdraw/transfer them so that may not fit in your timeline. If you used ether your fees are pretty low might cost you like $10-15 per $1000 transferred/sent. There is a small chance that the whole thing goes belly up in the 1-2 hours it takes to settle/transfer coin based transactions and there are price movements and relative exchange rates that could ultimately effect how much you get out (+ or -).

My long term plan once we get there would be to just do the first idea I gave you, but we already have those accounts setup.

Edit: Some exchanges do deal with both USD and EURO currencies. I am not sure if you can setup bank accounts for both and I think you would still have to purchase BTC or ETH in USD and then immediately sell into EURO to be able to then withdraw EURO. But using the same one would save fees and time. Once funds are cleared via ACH you could literally do the whole thing in a couple of minutes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,320 Posts
We do this through our stock broker, easy and simple. OTOH, we bank with the Bank of the West in California, and they are owned by BNPParibas, our French bank. The two will have nothing to do with each other. Go figure.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,434 Posts
If you bank with a bank that operates in both countries, and have accounts with them in both, you should be able to make transfers seamlessly. That said, I am only aware of HSBC filing this bill. That is where I bank and you can transfer online or via their app and the transfer is instantaneous, transaction fee-free, and the exchange rate is good.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case. Many expats found that out "the hard way" with Citibank. And actually, many of the French banks operate in the US (hence their caution in dealing with Americans, due to FATCA) but having an account on both sides of the pond in the same bank doesn't get you anything.

Basically, you need to find a transfer agent that operates by making "local" transactions on both sides of the deal. I'm curious to see how things go for the OP with Transferwise, because I've never had any problems with them right from the start. But, as far as the banks are concerned, there is no "wire transfer" involved at all - just a local payment or receipt of funds.

There are, however, banks in the US that get "sticky" about their own internal procedures and if they won't let a depositor set up a simple "standing order" or direct payment/receipt without them having to appear in person in the bank, the only real solution may be to find another bank. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to nearly impossible to open a new bank account from overseas without making a personal appearance at the bank (usually on a "visit" back there).

I recently helped a friend "verify herself" by phone with her bank in the States. She's elderly and not a native English speaker, though she does have US citizenship. The bank was really loathe to let me speak for her on the phone - ultimately, we got a supervisor to ok this, after putting her on the phone briefly to explain that she was "authorizing" me to handle the call for her and would be sitting by my side the whole time. (We concluded afterwards that next time I should simply call and say I AM her and just avoid the hassle.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
The reason it was unsuccessful is that my bank would not allow me to initiate a wire transfer without visiting a branch office of the bank in person,
Our US bank told us the same thing; we needed to have set up the wire transfer in person before we left the US. We were successful:
  • with pulling money from that US bank, depositing it in our Ally bank account, and then using Trasferwise to get the money to France.
  • directly with our US bank by using the "debit option" that Transferwise offers rather than their "wire transfer option"
  • and by using our US bank ATM card at our French bank's ATM machine. Our US bank charges one dollar to make withdrawals from any ATM machine in the world.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,899 Posts
Hi Bev!

A word of caution. To my knowledge at least one UK telephone bank has (is??) used voice recognition as an anti fraud precaution. You don't want to get the account tagged
as "do extra security checks".

Anybody trying to imitate my voice on the telephone must learn to copy my commanding tone of voice (steward! ANOTHER large whisky) and to include the odd slur as the alcohol level rises.

DejW


Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case. Many expats found that out "the hard way" with Citibank. And actually, many of the French banks operate in the US (hence their caution in dealing with Americans, due to FATCA) but having an account on both sides of the pond in the same bank doesn't get you anything.

Basically, you need to find a transfer agent that operates by making "local" transactions on both sides of the deal. I'm curious to see how things go for the OP with Transferwise, because I've never had any problems with them right from the start. But, as far as the banks are concerned, there is no "wire transfer" involved at all - just a local payment or receipt of funds.

There are, however, banks in the US that get "sticky" about their own internal procedures and if they won't let a depositor set up a simple "standing order" or direct payment/receipt without them having to appear in person in the bank, the only real solution may be to find another bank. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to nearly impossible to open a new bank account from overseas without making a personal appearance at the bank (usually on a "visit" back there).

I recently helped a friend "verify herself" by phone with her bank in the States. She's elderly and not a native English speaker, though she does have US citizenship. The bank was really loathe to let me speak for her on the phone - ultimately, we got a supervisor to ok this, after putting her on the phone briefly to explain that she was "authorizing" me to handle the call for her and would be sitting by my side the whole time. (We concluded afterwards that next time I should simply call and say I AM her and just avoid the hassle.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
217 Posts
Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case. Many expats found that out "the hard way" with Citibank. And actually, many of the French banks operate in the US (hence their caution in dealing with Americans, due to FATCA) but having an account on both sides of the pond in the same bank doesn't get you anything.



Basically, you need to find a transfer agent that operates by making "local" transactions on both sides of the deal. I'm curious to see how things go for the OP with Transferwise, because I've never had any problems with them right from the start. But, as far as the banks are concerned, there is no "wire transfer" involved at all - just a local payment or receipt of funds.



There are, however, banks in the US that get "sticky" about their own internal procedures and if they won't let a depositor set up a simple "standing order" or direct payment/receipt without them having to appear in person in the bank, the only real solution may be to find another bank. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to nearly impossible to open a new bank account from overseas without making a personal appearance at the bank (usually on a "visit" back there).



I recently helped a friend "verify herself" by phone with her bank in the States. She's elderly and not a native English speaker, though she does have US citizenship. The bank was really loathe to let me speak for her on the phone - ultimately, we got a supervisor to ok this, after putting her on the phone briefly to explain that she was "authorizing" me to handle the call for her and would be sitting by my side the whole time. (We concluded afterwards that next time I should simply call and say I AM her and just avoid the hassle.)

Cheers,

Bev


Well, all I can say is that’s the way it works for me with my accounts at HSBC.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,434 Posts
A word of caution. To my knowledge at least one UK telephone bank has (is??) used voice recognition as an anti fraud precaution. You don't want to get the account tagged
as "do extra security checks".
Well, fortunately we're dealing with a US bank, not a UK one. <g> And honestly, it was pretty easy to get the woman on the phone to consult with her supervisor and agree to let me handle it once I put my friend on the phone to assure her. I seriously doubt they voice-identified her. And my friend is always a bit timid in "official" situations like this. I was thinking that I could easily have been holding her hostage and "forcing" her to tell them whatever on the phone. After all that, they never asked me to identify myself, other than my relationship to the person I was calling on behalf of.

Oh well - once a public auditor, always a public auditor!
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
64 Posts
I never cease to wonder at how the gods smiled on us in our French sejour, and this seems to be another example, although maybe I'm just missing something in this sophisticated discussion.

Assuming that safety isn't a factor with any of the major avenues of money transfer, I suppose we're all seeking basically two things: a good exchange rate and convenience.

With that in mind, when our move was in the planning stages (3+ years ago), I did a trial run with a sampling of the major online transfer services in search of the preferable one. While I chose a winner, at least as measured by our needs, I found a better approach - and one I wasn't expecting - once we got here.

I simply draw cash (delivered in Euros) from my US bank account and then immediately deposit same into my French bank account. No intermediaries. Simultaneous. Nothing to check. Something you can do basically anytime you leave your home, Allows you to dollar cost average in a volatile currency market.

All of this is self evident in using a debit card. The real kicker came in discovering that I got a (very slightly) better exchange rate doing things this way. I do periodic comparison shopping, but I always seem to do better. Even today, I was slightly (a half a cent/Euro) ahead.

Some caveats. I do transfers for basically living expenses in small dollar amounts, usually $500 -$1000. The daily limit is $1000. For someone making much larger monthly transfers, what I do would probably be a nuisance. When we travel outside of France, we have to make larger deposits in advance, but we haven't taken any really long trips.

And I did run into one "legal" snare. About a year into the regime, the French bank informed me that they prohibited accounts with only cash deposits. They didn't want to say they were afraid of money laundering, but it wasn't hard to connect the dots. I provided them with a six month audit trail that justified everything to a legitimate US source (brokerage houses) to the penny. More than satisfied the auditors.

Something tells me that it shouldn't be this easy, but that's exactly what it seems to have been.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
37 Posts
I have the HSBC USA and HSBC France setup in a Premiere account. Although there are no fees on the global transfer from USA to France, HSBC USA took around a 3.75% margin spread on the currency exchange rate from USD to EUR. Compare that to places like TransferWise and CurrencyFair who take around 0.50% margin spread on currency exchange rate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
64 Posts
I have the HSBC USA and HSBC France setup in a Premiere account. Although there are no fees on the global transfer from USA to France, HSBC USA took around a 3.75% margin spread on the currency exchange rate from USD to EUR. Compare that to places like TransferWise and CurrencyFair who take around 0.50% margin spread on currency exchange rate.
Ouch! I often think this topic is like trying to describe a moving kaleidoscope.

I've tried to avoid comparing apples and oranges, but I'm no George Soros.

I have two apps on my cell phone that purport to show the cost of a Euro in USD, and neither is a transfer company. They give market quotes, the Dow, CAC, etc. I believe they quote the rate between banks. While this is a useful benchmark, I understand that I'm way too impecunious to ever get this rate.

So, what I compare is the override by using my debit card and then making the deposit of withdrawn cash, with the transfer services' add-on(s). Both of those give me the rate(s) I can actually get.

At least historically, including yesterday, I seem to consistently beat the transfer services, although not by much. And when you add the convenience factor, it's a no-brainer, at least for me.

But during these days of a strong dollar, I'd love to find a cheaper alternative. The override (on the bank rate) I pay is still about 1.5%. So I guess I'll continue researching.

Hopefully, rate hikes by the Fed will give us some relief next year by drawing cash
to the US bond market.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
64 Posts
How about Revolut?
I am just looking into it.
Thanks for the heads up. As a lawyer in my first (American) life, I learned to read the fine print.

Here's what I see.

There's a built in 3% override for Resolut accounts funded via a US debit card. Other than an international wire (antediluvian), I believe that's the only way I could fund the Revolut account. And it can take 5 business days.

If you pull out more than 6000 E in a calendar month, there is an additional 0.5% override.

I've sort of concluded that getting USD from a US bank to France in Euros on a free ride is a bit like building a perpetual motion machine That said, this might be a good deal for folks with UK funds. The base rate is the "bank" rate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
269 Posts
@Yankinpaca:
Where did you get the fine print? I was searching for it.
Yes, there is a 3% override if topped up from a US debit card. Why can you not top of from a normal US bank account?
I did not suggest to use the Revolut card for withdrawing cash. Or do the 6000E refer taking it away from the Revolut bank account?
As I said I was just start looking into it.
But I can tell you that my partner lost with the help of Chase's incompetency during the transfer 4000$ when he tried to transfer a large amount back to his German bank account.
 
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Top