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Banking - best way to transfer money around
Does anyone have a suggestions on what to do about banking? I would like to be able to transfer money back and forth between CR and the USA without too much hassle or fees. Ideally, I would like two accounts one in CR and one in the US that allow me to transfer funds via online banking. Is Citibank or any other bank offering anything like that? The reason I am asking is because I don't to take all my funds with me but rather have the flexible to shift around whenever needed.
That's a great question. There are a few options:
Slow, but sure (and cheap!)
Open a checking account in the US. Then you open a CR account in a private bank like Scotia bank, BAC or Cuscaltan (others too). They take 5-8 days or 8-15 days, or 21 days to clear the check, depending on the bank. But there is no charge. If you need a certain amount each month, you can deposit in advance and have the check cleared before you need it. Also, for emergencies you can use your credit card and send them the payment drawn on your US checking account.
Fast, but expensive
Open an account with a US bank that will allow you to do electronic funds transfers online to your account in CR. You might be able to do better shopping around, but from what I hear transfers cost $35 and the local bank will charge you $15 on this end. The money is ready from 1 day to the next though.
If you are traveling back and forth you can wire Moneygrams to yourself. You place the order in the US and wire it to your name in Costa Rica. Instantaneous, and cheap ($5 fee, I'm not sure about large amounts)
This is probably the best, but you will need to have $2500 to leave in the bank doing nothing. You open a checking account in the US. Then you come here and open a US based account with a local bank, BAC Miami for example. You can go to the bank here, deposit the check from your US bank account to your BAC Miami account and the transaction is processed through the US banking system - so the funds are available with in 24 hours or the same time as any check you accept from another person and deposit.
Money Laundering Way
Just kidding. The other way I can think of is to use a debit card. You get a US account with an International debit card. Then you withdraw money here with that. I bet you could even deposit to your local account drawing money from the debit card, but maybe not.
The best way to carry your initial funds is a bank draft that you deposit to open your account. This check has to go through the clearing process, even though it is certified, so you have to know that it might take a week or two before you have your money.
Here is a good article about what you need to bring with you in order to Open a Bank Account in Costa Rica
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Scotia bank is a partner with Bank of America. I don't know about money trnasfers, but you don't have to pay to use their ATms.