Wednesday, February 11, 2009

International Banking - Get online

If you live abroad, or are planning on living abroad, one major financial hurdle to clear is how to deal with banks across international lines.

One of the most important tools that I have used to effectively bank is using the full potential of their online services. By doing that, I am able to handle the vast majority of my banking, investing, and payment of student loans and credit cards using only the power of the interet.

By learning how to adequately utilize my bank's online resources, I've saved time, money, and a ton of effort.

Three different ways to use online banking
Bulletin Board Messaging: My credit union allows me to leave messages on the message board and they’ll complete the transactions. It sounds like a such a small thing, but the impact was clear when my sister entered the wrong PIN number for my ATM card too many times and it locked. I was able to leave a message, have a new card with the PIN that I requested sent to her address, all within the span of a few days, just by leaving a message.
Instant Message Communication: I also have an IRA that I just activated to automatically withdraw money every month. Unfortunately, the IRA was set to deposit into 2009’s account – I wanted 2008. A few quick words with the helpful Fidelity Investments representative, and the money was transferred - no problem. What's even better is they let me know that though I can't change the settings to avoid contacting them in the future, I don't have to ask them every month to change it over; though they can't change the setting, they can just transfer it all in April.
Online money transfers: I also routinely transfer money between my accounts. By using online banking, I can do many things myself, including transfer to my credit card, put money into a CD, and set up automatic bill payments. Those that I can’t do, I can ask to be done for me via instant messaging or online board messaging.

Of course, these represent a small fraction of what you could do with online banking - I just haven't found a need for much more in my life.

If you need a good summary of what online banking is, or feel lost in the process, try looking through this website. The best way to figure out what to do, though, is to jump in and just start doing it. If you haven’t signed up for the service at your bank, I recommend doing so today.

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