Expat Banking

With all of the issues that can impact the financial success of your time abroad it is very important to consider the banking options prior to leaving your home country.  You should also take the opportunity of any orientation visits to enquire into the services available from local banks and any special arrangements for expats or foreign nationals.  Offshore banking may also play a role in managing your finances and in tax planning.


Existing Bank

If you decide to stay with your existing bank when you move be sure that they have the local network that you will need to meet your requirements.  Online banking arrangements are generally country specific and therefore only allow you to make payments in your home country.  Payments in your new country will be treated as foreign payments if the service allows you to make such payments online.  Many banks have specialist expat arrangements, but ensure these will provide you with the services that you will require and that they match or surpass available services from regional banks.


Regional Banks

Approach the leading banks that are dominant in your destination prior to leaving your home country.  Many have special expat or migrant banking packages that you can set up prior to your move with the account activated upon arrival.  You can then identify with them prior to your move any issues you are likely to face.


Debit and Credit Cards

It is possible to use your debit and credit accounts from your home country, but you need to check on any restrictions.  Many credit cards will have a daily limit and many debit cards will have limits on what you can spend in shops as well as cash withdrawal limits. This can be a problem if you have significant costs to meet in setting yourself up in your new home.   You also face an exchange rate risk and the charges made for overseas transactions.  These generally mean you should only use these on a short term basis before setting up local arrangements whether with your home bank or with a new local bank.


Local credit cards may be difficult to obtain as many countries will not recognize your credit status from your home country.  You will need to establish your credit in your new country.


Home Country Banking Arrangements

Whatever banking arrangements you establish in your new country you should consider retaining your banking arrangements in your home country as you may need to make a payment at home or be forced to repatriate earlier than expected.  This is clearly required if you have property income at home or if you have left family members behind.  It can be difficult to quickly establish suitable banking arrangements in such circumstances (and you may also find yourself treated like a new arrival in your home country initially for credit purposes).  If you are overseas for a prolonged period ensure that you use your home credit cards occasionally to maintain your credit status at home (and make sure you settle the bill on time).