Friday, November 07, 2014

Saint Coemgen Joins the Banking Issue

Saint Coemgen states:The reason why only a drivers license was considered valid ID and not the passport is because they wanted to verify that you actually lived in the US State where you claimed having an address. Passports do not have address information so would not work. And for the same reason, even if you had a Hungarian drivers license, that would not have worked either. Long term US expats have the most difficulty when they keep ties to the US, especially in banking. The simple truth is the US Banking system is not international friendly for private bank holders that live abroad. If I want to do an international money transfer to a US bank account from my European account, I can go on-line and make the transfer with a web browser. Some US banks may allow such e-banking also, but my US bank never did (still doesn't today for personal accounts). If I wanted to do an international transfer of money from my US bank account I always had to go into the bank and fill out a paper form and sign it.

BN Follow-up: We have successfully had online banking with Bank of America since we left the US in 2001. They even send our paper statements to our Hungarian address. However, we did have an issue as Saint Coemgen stated regarding transferring money here. When we wanted to buy our apartment, they did insist we would have to come into a branch office to sign the paperwork. After a number of calls explaining why that would not work, they agreed to allow us to have the papers notarized at the US Embassy. That solved the problem. Since then, we have transferred money for a second apartment without a hassle.

Unfortunately, we no longer have a driver's license in any of the US states. We don't have one in any country of the world, either.
Back to the original issue, I thought the Plan B would be to use credit cards as ATM cards if emergency cash was needed because of ATM card theft. This is what I discovered.

If was ironic, but I called Bank of America to see if they had a pre-paid debit card. The rationale being  we have accounts there. The auto response telephone system asked for my ATM card number and stated “If you don’t have it handy, say ‘Wait’.” I did say "Wait" and went to look for it. I have not used it for about a year and I could not find it where I keep all the other cards I don’t want filling my wallet.

When I returned to the phone, there was an live agent on the line saying "Hello, hello" and I told her what happened. She asked if I needed my card canceled and have a new card issued. I said it seems that I did, even if this was not the reason for calling.

We never accomplished anything with the pre-paid card, but when I went back to the bedroom where I had spread all the cards over the bed, I spotted the B of A ATM card. In my memory it was still blue, but the latest version is red. Too late! She told me the card would be voided immediately if I said I needed a replacement.

I called Chase Visa to see what would happen IF I had a $500 credit on the card, but then took a cash advance. My thinking was to circumvent the system, but they had another brick wall in place. Even if I had OVERpaid the credit card by $500, when I took out cash from an ATM, there is a 3% or $10 fee, whichever is higher AND they assess interest at 19.28% for the next TWO billing cycles. I was furious!!

We have two accounts here in Hungary. One is strictly for the business and the other is our travel account. It is the travel account card that I am afraid to lose, thus wanting a back-up to have on hand. B of A charges $5 for every ATM withdrawal, so I was hoping to save some money. The other cards charge $2-3. My other concern is that if I had to report my Hungarian card lost or stolen, it would be impossible. Each time we go in the bank they have to get the one and only employee, who speaks English, away from whatever he does in the back area to come to help us. Calling the bank from abroad would be hell.

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