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TransferWise is a great new way to transfer money internationally. It can be used for both personal transfers and business transfers.
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I used TransferWise for the first time. You send money into a random bank account with the sinking feeling that you may never see it again. Thankfully this clever new company is as trustworthy as they make out. I had my money in my bank account within the time they had promised at half the cost of what the banks would have charged me.
How does it work?
Basically instead of sending your money overseas incurring fees they have large pools and simply exchange the money like an exchange student. No currency swaps they just note that you have transferred it and take it out of the pool in each country.
We are an associate partner with Transferwise but that is only because we believe in them and endorse them. If you love them too check them out here.
For more information take a look at their video which walks you through the process.
Credits: Feature image Jimi Filipovski
You have moved to the USA and now you need to access your money. Here’s how to apply for a bank account when you get to the US.
Before you leave home, double check if you bank has an association with an American bank. Some banks with international offices allow you to apply to open an account before you leave if you are with a bank that has a presence in America. There are a few banks that have international relationships with American banks such as , , and
If you have not arrived an online application will probably be denied so do your re before you go but apply by going into a branch. This is mainly because America relies heavily on credit history and as an expat you have to begin.
Unfortunately, opening a bank account in the U.S. is quite difficult but with a little patience and the right paperwork we can help you get get moving.
Do some re about the area you are going to as bank regulations change state to state but as a general rule you will need the following to apply.
What you will need to apply for a bank account (for most banks)
Social Security number for those who haven’t got one see our video on how to apply for a SSN see the article below (video coming).
An addressand take along your lease agreement if you have one
Any additional immigration documents that you think will assist your case such as bank documents from your banks at home
Employment details such as letters of employment and salary
A little bit of cash
If you are a student bring along your enrolment forms
Note that most banks ask you to fill out an application form but depending on where you go, they might walk you through it.
Let’s talk a little bit about credit history. A large amount of the US economy still works with checks, ( most rent is paid via check) and credit however, no matter how good your credit score is at home it will not help you at all in the states, you will need to start from scratch.
After you open a bank account here in the US, ask the bank manager how long you need to wait to apply for a credit card. Apply for a credit card as quickly as you can. This is generally about a month from when you open you account.
When you do get your credit card use it regularly and be sure to pay all bills on time as you do not want to damage your credit record.
Let’s take a look at a few of the larger banks so you can get your head around the current options. Note these change constantly so do consult with an agent at the bank.
Which bank is best for me?
This is the biggest bank in the US. They are useful because they have a range of ATM’s and store fronts across the country.
They have a free student account that’s available for five years you have to be between 17 and 24 to qualify so it’s great for international students.
Their business account is $10 per month but is waived if you have more than $1,500 in the bank.
Basic account – $12 per month – the fee is waived if you deposit at least $250.00 per month.
Students – Free if you are under 23. There is no student account with the Bank of America this is the standard ‘Basic Account ‘
Students – again they do not have a specific student account
They do have some nice perks like having officers throughout the world along with coupons for things like event and movie tickets.
Basic / Bank account – $10.00 per month – waived to $5.00 if you are aged $17 to 24.
Perks: visa debit card and free online payments
If you are not someone to go for the big guys, the Bank of Internet USA
The USA has ATM’s drive up ATM’s and branches where you can draw out cash. They also have the ability to give cash out during a transation if you use your card using the ‘cash back’ feature at larger stores such as major grocery stores.
Note, most banks will charge a fee if you do not use your bank’s ATM.
ATM and human bank teller fees
Withdrawing money from an ATM is free in the U.S. if you use one of your bank’s ATMs.
However, many banks will charge a fee if you withdraw money from another bank’s ATM. Other banks only offer a limited number of free withdrawals per month.
How do I transfer my money from home?
You can use your bank to transfer funds however, we love Transferwise. They are competitive because they are an online company that deals with exchanging money rather than sending it. For example, if someone in Australia is going to the UK and someone in the UK is heading to Australia, rather than do the exchange they just swap. The money is transferred into a transferwise banks account and then transferred to the new party. This means that it can save you a lot in transfer fees.
For more information, see our article here about using .
Feature photo by on
Read time: 1 min
Moving to the USA, the land of opportunity will be an incredible adventure, however, it’s not always easy to get your head around how to set up everyday needs. We have covered the process in a step by step checklist to ease the process for you.
Each point has a full blog for further detail so hit the link for more detail on each point. Let’s get you started.
Before you move
– to live and work in the USA you will need a valid working visa – take a look at our visa section here for more information on which visa would be best for you.
Insurance – make sure you have coverage
When you arrive
– there are many places that offer phone cards in the US. If you know you are going to be here for a while but you cannot be granted with US credit (because you haven’t built a credit score yet) go to a company such as AT&T which offer the service to carry over a prepaid number to an account later on.
and accommodation– this does not need to be your home address, it can be a hotel or a temporary place you are staying. You will need it for your entry card when you arrive in the U.S.
– you will need one of these to get paid by your employer in the USA
(you will need utility bills as proof of address for a lot of things so the sooner the better)
After the first six months
When you have settled in there will be a few extra things that you need to take into consideration.
Making friends in a new city
Take a look at transferring money with .
Opening a bank account as an expat is relatively straight forward. If you are currently with a bank that has branches in Australia such as HSBC or Westpac contact your bank about setting up in Australia.
Bank accounts are necessary in Australia if you intend to work as employers tend to pay as a direct transfer to an Australian bank.
Step 1 – Decide on a bank
Step 2 – Make sure that you apply within six weeks of arriving or you will need to present more forms
When you have decided on your bank you can begin the application process at a branch, over the phone or online. From there, you will need to provide identification depending on which account you intend to open.
Finding a branch
Most major malls have branches or local shops but just log onto your preferred bank and for your closest branch using your post code.
Most country towns have at least two options so if you know that you are moving to a country town it pays to double check as banks charge a fee for using an ATM from a different bank.
Opening an account
Can I open an account on line before I arrive?
Good news, you can start the application process for most major banks in Australia online (there are four major banks that allow you to do it – Commonwealth, ANZ, NAB and Westpack). You can apply within twelve months of you arriving.
All you need to do when you arrive is provide the 100 points of ID and you are on your way (explained below).
Savings or checking account
In some places your normal and main account is called your ‘current’ account but in Oz it is called a savings account.
Example ID check
You need a certain amount of ‘points’ of ID as they call it. Most banks ask for 100 ‘points’ of ID.
Birth certificate, passport or citizen certificate – 70 points
Driver’s licence, shooters’ licence, public service ID card – 40 points
A card with your name on it such as a credit card, debit card, library card or a store card with your name on it – 25 points
Utility bill – 25 points
Which Bank is best for me?
As we mentioned if you are moving to a rural area check which banks are available in your town. Here is an overview of a few of the banks and what they offer in Australia so you can get your head around which options are best for you.
NAB (National Australian Bank)
Note that there are no accounts designed for students.
Good for business bank accounts
ATM’s: Over 4,000
Smart Access account which is best for expats.
There are several ways to transfer but we highly recommend . See our article on. Transferwise is fantastic service as there are no overhead bank fees involved so it’s generally much cheaper. Most major Australian banks are working directly with Transferwise.
Using your card
Australia is tech savvy when it comes to banks. Cards working on a chip or contactless system. Most people use the ‘tap and go feature’ on their cards to make simple food and quick everyday purchases. In Australia it’s called ‘contactless’.
If you are using your card in store to make a payment it is called EFTPOS in Australia. It will need a pin or signature at the time of purchase. Most cards issued by Australian banks such as visa debit can be used to make online purchases but do not have the credit feature.
Visa payWave and MasterCard® PayPass™ are almost standard now in Australia and can be made to make payments for things under $100.00 at a time. There is no signature, swipe or pin required, you simply hover your card over the machine and go.
Note that it is fairly rare to sign these days even credit cards are using pins to be aware if you do have to sign for things with your card you may want to carry a pen to avoid a hold up.
You can generally make cash withdrawals using EFTPOS when you make a purchase at the store.
A lot of stores allow customers to use Apple Pay these days. Install a card on your phone in the ‘wallet’ app and off you go. I love this feature as it sends you updates every time your purchase and you don’t have to carry a wallet.
There are thousands of ATM’s available around Australia. Most banks have an ATM attached and almost every pub in the country has a small independent ATM in there (for when you get stuck on Saturday night).
Note that withdrawals and transactions from your bank ATM are generally free however, withdrawals and transactions from other banks incur a fee of around $1.00 to $3.00.
Cheques are hardly used in Australia anymore. Instead we use online transfer systems such as BPay, internet banking or PayPal to pay things like rent or larger sums of money.
Managing your accounts
Most banks have apps that can be downloaded to your smart phone or tablet to keep an eye on your bank account. This is a really nice feature to have particularly for those little things like transferring money to friends after a dinner. They will email you a receipt on the spot so you can send it to your friend.
The online services are fantastic and very fast. I love the friendly interface of Commonwealth and ANZ . They have always been the most tech savvy but the others are not far behind.
Which Bank is best
This is a question of choice and what suits yours needs best. The biggest are , , ,
but there are also most international banks such as
and . All offer slightly differing accounts but they all charge approximately the same fees and offer the same service provided you use their ATM machines and branches. One bank to consider, and the largest bank is the Commonwealth bank. They have the largest network of branches and ATM machines around Australia because if you are travelling around you get charged to use another banks ATM so it might make sense to use a bank which has ATM machines in all the places you are travelling to, plus the Commonwealth allow you to use Bankwest machines free as well. If you are sticking to the main cities then all the banks have ATM but you may struggle to find your own banks as you travel or in rural areas.
Moving Down Under to Australia can sometimes feel like you have moved to the moon. Don’t worry, you are not that far away. Here’s some help with setting up.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
WHEN YOU ARRIVE
WITHIN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS
Once you have yourself set up there are some things you might want to consider in the following six months like how to sign up for a gym or how to make friends in a new city. If you are not a native English speaker, you might want to brush up on your language skills with some English classes.
Here are some more blogs you might be interested in.
– learn a language fast if English isn’t your native language
Credit: Photo – Vita Vilcina – https://unsplash.com/@vivivi
You can always follow us on twitter @an or on instagram @an
One of the best parts is that you not only learn the written but also the pronunciation. There are little visual aids to help you retain what you have learned so that it sticks.
For more information take a look at the
It is also available here on
There are some additional options if this is not the one for you.
– which has a similar structure but charges an $11.00 monthly fee.
– teaches us by memorizing words. They start off with the top 250 most common Spanish words. This is free
– for those traveling or moving to Japan. It uses a flash card system to help you memorize characters and words faster. Lessons are short, generally around one minute.
Ok, so you have the language sorted, do you need to think about transferring money. Take a look at our article on
Credits: Feature photo credit – Ellie Pritts – https://unsplash.com/@elliepritts
READ TIME: 2 MINS
The motherland, a place of tea, larger, theatre, football and a lot of fun. Moving to the UK will be an amazing adventure!
If you have decided to move to the UK this is a guide to the step-by-step process to help you along the way.
If you have come to grab your here it is. A step-by-step downloadable guide to avoid getting stuck in the Catch 22 circle that is the London ‘Bermuda Triangle’.
Ok so now you are out of the triangle, let’s go through all you need to know about moving to the UK. We go through each step in detail so that you can get your head around it fast.
Before your move
Visa – Before you move, sort out your .
Money – Get money on a travel card
Travel Insurance – make sure that you are covered
Find an area you would like to live in (London guide is below in getting an address)
– how much stuff are you intending to bring from home and consider how to get it there. Check out our article on ways to get it there
When you get on the ground
Get an address – this does not need to be your home address, it can be a hotel or a temporary place you are staying. You will need it for your entry card when you arrive in the U.S.
Get a phone sim – there are many places that offer phone cards in the US. If you know you are going to be here for a while but you cannot be granted with US credit (because you haven’t built a credit score yet) go to a company such as AT&T which offer the service to carry over a prepaid number to an account later on.
National Insurance Number (NIN)
Get gas and electricity for your house (you will need utility bills as proof of address for a lot of things so the sooner the better)
Getting a bank account
After the first six months
Converting your driver’s license.
Transferring money – we currently lovesave money in bank fees
Consider an yearly travel insurance plan to cover your weekend warrior trips
Credits: Photo Credit – Henry Be –
Real estate can often be a good investment particularly for expats who are working in a global marketplace.
This is a guide to get your head around what you need to know and how to go about buying property in the US as a foreigner or expat. It is important to note that you do not need to be a citizen to purchase property in the US.
Before buying there are a few things that you should consider.
Purchasing property does not change your immigration / visa status or give you additional privileges
Purchasing property in the US does not alter your visa status or give you any additional privileges which means, if you do not hold a form of non-immigrant visa or immigrant status, you will only be allowed to enter and use the property in line with your legal status of entry. For example, if you are Australian and do not have a form of work visa you will only be able to enter on the ESTA visa which classifies you as a tourist. These visas can not be applied for back to back so please consider this before purchasing. If you are unsure, contact the consulate in your country or an immigration attorney.
How do sales work in the US?
Note that this may be different in your country.
Things to remember
Step One – what will the property be used for?
Work out how you intend to use the property.
Step 2 – Visit realtors in your area
Get an attorney involved who specializes in foreign expat buyers.
If you are visiting the US and looking for property do take advantage of the local real estate agents. Agents in the US must qualify to practice and many specialize in dealing with foreign buyers.
Step 3 – apply for a TIN
If you are serious you will need to get a
see our article on what to do and visit the
for more information and the application.