I have a Charles Schwab banking account, and it's served me well in my
overseas travels, including my scouting visits to Eastern Europe. Here's
why you may want to consider it:
- ATM fees reimbursed WORLD-WIDE AUTOMATICALLY (none of that "sending in ATM receipts" nonsense)
- Exchange rates that are obviously better than money changers, and
(according to reviews on the web) some of the best compared to other US
banks (no separate foreign exchange fee either, just a rate slightly
higher than fair market)
- Some of the best interest rates, at least for a US checking account
... might as well get something for parking your most liquid cash
- The above being said though, I know most of my purchases will be on credit (get those rewards!). So ...
I currently have a Capital One No Hassle Rewards Mastercard.
- I have it set to automatically credit my statement $25 once enough 1% cash back is generated.
- No chip, but I didn't have problems swiping in Europe.
- The exchange rates are obviously better than those offered by the
merchants (they prompt if you want to be billed in USD or local
currency). No separate foreign transaction fees. Not sure how the
exchange rates compared to those of other cards though (should look into
(There are great Flyertalk threads about this)
For tax location purposes as well as scanning and/or forwarding
important documents (tax forms, passport renewals, etc.), I'll probably
go with the official-sounding but actually just-a-company-called US
Global Mail. Why?
- Real Houston, Texas address (not a PO box) - both being important for
tax purposes, with the not-a-PO-box also being important for receiving
shipments from FedEx, etc. (some companies even with addresses will only
accept USPS, not FedEx, etc.)
- No charging for disposal (ie junk mail) - other companies' plans that
charged for disposal weren't clear about how much that would cost (so I
just assumed it was high)
- Cheaper and more transparent shipping options (some companies that
look cheap make their money on "shipping", so you need to look at those
rates, as well as the monthly rates)
As a US citizen, off the bat at least, I plan on using the Poland loophole (h/t to Roosh, jasond, and countless others at http://www.rooshvforum.com/thread-31412.html
). So for crossing the Atlantic I'll connect outside Schengen (likely
UK). Border runs to reset the 90-day tourist clock. I may look at other
options such as student visas if my plan goes well.
Update on the above: according to a few web sources, Schwab and
Capital One indeed are the best US institutions for overseas personal
finance. I should add that Schwab's ATM reimbursement is unlimited (so
no watching your number of transactions). Sources:
I may look at this again out of boredom when I move, but for now it seems what I have is among the best.
Also an update on taxes for part 1: I may also consider the "Roth IRA escape hatch":
In short, once I quit my job, I'll be in a lower tax bracket, at which
point I can convert traditional 401k money into Roth IRA money and pay
the associated income taxes, then let it sit for the IRS-minimum 5 years
before withdrawing the principal (but not the gains) penalty-free. So
basically another thing to look at after I move, when I have more time.
Minor update for those interested in the mail scanning service I
mentioned: it's slightly advantageous to sign up before going abroad.
The reason is that the USPS apparently requires the mail scanning
service to have a physical copy of the USPS form (#1583 I believe,
usually provided by the mail scanning service) that authorizes the mail
scanning service to receive your USPS mail. Likely not too much of an
issue mailing this form to the scanning service from abroad, but quite
easy in the US.
Also a minor update on my move to becoming a Texas "resident." With the
address from the mail scanning service, I don't anticipate any problems
claiming Texas residency come tax time. I don't see a need to getting a
Texas drivers license or resident ID, but I may look into this more. The
reason I don't anticipate any problems is because I know people who
claim "residency" in one state, but actually live and work in others.