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slims
11-27-2011, 21:33
I'll be coming from another country to hike next year. On the plus side I am an American citizen (despite never having lived in America) so I won't need to worry about getting a Visa however I do need to worry about how to deal with the money for my thru. How do foreigners normally do this? Obviously a couple grand in cash in the bottom of my pack is a no. :rolleyes: Traveller's cheques? VISA credit cards? Something else?

bamboo bob
11-27-2011, 21:41
Visa and some cash. Debit cards. Most of the foreign banks operate in America and so do their debit cards.

StubbleJumper
11-27-2011, 22:08
I'll be coming from another country to hike next year. On the plus side I am an American citizen (despite never having lived in America) so I won't need to worry about getting a Visa however I do need to worry about how to deal with the money for my thru. How do foreigners normally do this? Obviously a couple grand in cash in the bottom of my pack is a no. :rolleyes: Traveller's cheques? VISA credit cards? Something else?


Just do the same thing that Americans do, which is withdraw cash from an ATM periodically. The only difference for a foreigner is that you'll pay a service charge of perhaps $5 per withdrawal and you'll get whatever exchange rate your bank offers. In practice, the $5 service charge means that you'll not want to be withdrawing $40 or $60 each time, but rather $200 or $300.

In the end, it's really no biggie if you end up making 12 withdrawals of $300. It's just $60 of service charges which is not significant over a 2,000 mile hike (just drink 15 fewer pints as an offset :-?).

swjohnsey
11-27-2011, 22:17
Carry some cash, a debit card and a credit card.

Northern Lights
11-27-2011, 22:41
Or open an account with a US bank and deposit your money in your account and then use it like anyone else would. Then you wouldn't have to pay the 5.00 fee.

Fats
11-28-2011, 00:25
Or open an account with a US bank and deposit your money in your account and then use it like anyone else would. Then you wouldn't have to pay the 5.00 fee.

I would do this. Also if you have any issues with prices, keeping track of change and such that you should get back I would recommend using a debit card everywhere possible.

I have known people to give the wrong change to foreigners (in this area) on purpose. Using a debit card takes away a lot of the problems with this.

Brad

10-K
11-28-2011, 00:40
You may have to try many banks to open an account if you don't have a SS# number.

I'm not even sure it can be done, but I would guess not - at least easily.

Northern Lights
11-28-2011, 00:50
You may have to try many banks to open an account if you don't have a SS# number.

I'm not even sure it can be done, but I would guess not - at least easily.

It can be done, so long as you have proper Identification. And you should if you are travelling. If you have a passport and driver's license it shouldn't be an issue. The bank I work for will open accounts for foreigners. I would even check with your bank, they may have a bank they deal with in the states and you would be able to open the account before you even started your hike. Just my two cents worth.

rp1790
11-28-2011, 02:25
I carried about $2k initially (it's light!) and then just used a debit card. I was a foreigner leaving the US, but still, carrying a whole lot of cash isn't an issue.

HockeyGirl
11-28-2011, 07:44
Howdy!

Am in the same position as you (US Citizen but have lived forever in UK) - I have a SS# and last time I was back in the States opened an account (with BOA). You might need a US address though (I use a family contact in the US).
So I have a debit card I can use to draw cash when I need and works fine

I also found it easy to use the web company Tranzfers to cut down on fees when changing money over from UK to US account, so I can move money whenever I need with little hassle.

Hope this helps?

JAK
11-28-2011, 09:41
I never much thought of it before, but the high services charges that banks charge creates an increased law and safety problem. I am now talking so much in terms of hiking the AT, but in general. In any country, things would be safer if people were to carry less cash on them. If for one reason or another, people in some countries carry more cash on them than in other countries, then that might create more theft, and it wouldn't neccessarily do you much good to carry less, and pay the service charges. You might lose less cash if you do get rolled, but you would still get rolled. Just saying its another reason that government has a legitimate roll in setting limits on how much banks charge for withdrawals, because we all pay for the increased crime that results, as well as the bank charges.

JAK
11-28-2011, 09:49
Relating back to the thread,

What are some useful tips for hikers to pay less banking charges other than by carrying more cash?
How many places allow you to get cash back when you make purchases?
When should you use debit, and when should you use credit, and when should you use cash?
Is anything different if you are from another country?

JAK
11-28-2011, 09:53
When I used to travel I would often put a positive balance on my credit card before I left.

Is that an option today?
Would you be able to use it for most things?
Would it have any advantages in reducing costs?
If you take cash off a credit card when in positive balance,
do you still pay interest charges for the month?

azb
11-28-2011, 10:17
American citizens need VISAs?

I used to do a lot of international traveling and never had any problems finding a bank that would accept my VISA based debit card for cash withdrawals. The exchange rate was better this was as well. I would keep a small amount of emergency cash on your person though. Just in case.

Things may be different now, as I haven't flown at all since the TSA started their illegal and immoral search and seizures.

Az

Marta
11-28-2011, 16:45
What I do when I'm traveling outside the US is to mostly use a debit card and mostly make larger withdrawals instead of lots of small ones. I pay larger hotel and transportation bills directly with the card and smaller bills with cash that comes from the ATM in fairly large chunks.

One of my sons is about to start an extended period of working overseas. He switched his bank accounts to Chase because they don't charge foreign currency transaction fees, which a lot of smaller US banks do.

A complicating factor, of course, is that the AT goes through a lot of one-horse towns, which means your choice of banks will be very limited. (Often just one or two.) and as it winds along through different states the selection of banks will change. The main thing is to learn your bank's rules ahead of time so you can minimize the bank charges on that end.

PennyPincher
11-28-2011, 17:08
I have a bank debit card that I get charged fees if I use it as a debit card. However, if I use it as a charge card I get charged nothing. The difference is the retailer is paying the fee instead of me. Whenever I use this card I simply tell them it has to be run as a charge and they usually check the signature (sometimes).

I also take out larger amounts if I am at an ATM that know I will get charged a fee. Since the fee is usually a set dollar amount I save money this way.

BoA charges for foreign currency transactions.

Someone above said "know the rules" of the bank you use. I would say that is key.

stranger
11-28-2011, 18:05
Or open an account with a US bank and deposit your money in your account and then use it like anyone else would. Then you wouldn't have to pay the 5.00 fee.

I recommend doing this (though it will take 7-14 days to get your ATM card). I'm American by birth, but haven't lived in the US since 2002, I'm in the states all the time, sometimes for up to 3-4 months, I have a US bank account. Plus if you have money problems you can contact your bank much more easily. The other option to to explore this with your current bank and see if there is a way to knock down those international charges on ATM's. I've been charged as much as $10 to use a foreign ATM, when you consider what your own bank charges you and the foreign ATM. Travellers Check are a hassle, it would make more sense to me to use a credit card than travellers checks. In event, make sure you have a $100 in cash in a ziploc in the bottom of your pack, on every hike there is a circumstance when I have found this quite useful, like the only ATM in town is empty, or broken, or the motel doesn't take credit cards, etc...

Marta
11-28-2011, 19:03
I disagree that opening an American bank account will be an effective way to save money. Most US banks have a a whole host of fees associated with their accounts, unless you keep a fairly large balance in an account with them. There are monthly fees just for having the account, and fees for cashing checks and/or using their credit and debit cards. The other point is that, during a thru-hike, you'll end up getting money from ATMs run by an assortment of banks, as well as some of those little privately run ATMs you see in convenience stores. So you'll end up paying fees anyway. The best thing to do is see what you can do from your home country to try to prevent being nicked for international fees, and then hopefully you can keep down the other fees associated with getting money. And don't sweat the small stuff.

RockyRoo
12-06-2011, 22:49
We are in the same position. We didn't even think of trying to get a US bank account, will look into that one! We were thinking of a mix of cash/debit card from home/travellers cheques (not overly used these days, but still useful). We can also get a travellers card with x amount of the foreign cash loaded - aparantly keeps the transer/exchange rate cost down.

Wise Old Owl
12-06-2011, 23:21
You may have to try many banks to open an account if you don't have a SS# number.

I'm not even sure it can be done, but I would guess not - at least easily.

cannot be done - NO SS -NO Account. Period - its a USA regulation in Banking.

stranger
12-06-2011, 23:40
The person is a US citizen, therefore they would have a social security number

stranger
12-06-2011, 23:41
The OP is a citizen

RockyRoo
12-07-2011, 03:42
we're not citizens, but I do have a SS due to working there a few years ago. SS don't get cancelled once I leave? *starts rummaging through documents*

Jeff
12-07-2011, 08:52
There was a good journal posted by an Australian woman Gipcgirl who hiked the AT in both 2010 and 2011. I am sure she would respond to your email regarding what she did regarding this situation:

http://www.trailjournals.com/about.cfm?trailname=10621

RockyRoo
12-07-2011, 15:41
There was a good journal posted by an Australian woman Gipcgirl who hiked the AT in both 2010 and 2011. I am sure she would respond to your email regarding what she did regarding this situation:

http://www.trailjournals.com/about.cfm?trailname=10621

Cheers Jeff!