Moving to Germany: T-51 Days – Checks, Bills, Wire Transfers

As an American moving abroad, I won’t completely cut off all ties back home. I still have accounts, investments, and the like that will still be maintained even while I am in the land of Beer and Pretzels. Most of this boils down to keep my old bank account so that my automatic payments don’t have to change.

I have so much that I have to take care of before I leave that finding a different way of paying for my Netflix account is not on the top of my list. There will be a post on this later.

So I will need to find a way to have my German and American accounts play nicely so that I can put money where I need.

This is easier said than done. American banks don’t play nice with each other or other banks. I think it’s been since the deregulation of the banks in the states that the big dogs like Chase have been finding more and more ways to take your money away from you.

Thorsten and I have had instances where we need to pay the other one back. In Germany, it is common to just directly deposit into someone’s account. Checks are considered a thing of the past and are hardly used anymore. In the US you guard your bank account number the same way you would your social security number and even though we do automatic pay, we also still use checks on occasion.

We looked into a form of direct deposit but American banks (like Chase) only see it as a wire transfer (and thus they can charge $15 just to receive the money). This does not include the fee to send the money to begin with.

We have also tried PayPal. PayPal charges you only 2% of what you are trying to send as a fee. So for smaller denominations, 2% is not so bad. However, once you try transferring larger sums of money then the fees add up quickly.

When I went to my bank, they also recommended the tried and true “write a check to yourself and deposit it” trick. This may be my best option even if it takes more time. With today’s technology, I may even see if I can take a photo of said check with my phone.

These sorts of things are possible but it is a matter of doing your research. To all of you expats, how do you change money between your two accounts?

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