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Trinidad and Tobago - Banking
A current account in Trinidad and Tobago is also known as a Transactional Account. This is for day to day banking needs and there are a certain number of requirements which will need to be met before you are able to open an account. There is a minimum deposit, which will vary from bank to bank but an average of $100 is common. As an expat you will be expected to show a copy of your passport as proof of identification and you will also need to be able to prove your address, so a copy of your tenancy agreement or a utility bill will be required. Some banks may want to have proof of your income, so a copy of your contract of employment or proof of income from another source may be needed. The requirements of each bank will be different, so it is a good idea to find out in advance exactly what each bank will need you to do.
Current account holders receive regular statements and even a small amount of interest on the minimum balance if this is maintained. There is an annual fee for the administration of the account and this fee allows a number of transactions to be carried out each month free of charge. Transactions over this number will incur a fee. It is perhaps easier to obtain an overdraft facility in Trinidad and Tobago than in most other countries, particularly when you use one of the international banks and can prove that your income can help you to pay it back. It is a good idea to arrange a meeting with your bank manager if you think you may need credit facilities as a good working relationship with your bank is essential.
Savings accounts are often set up so to limit the number of withdrawals made, although fees on certain transactions may be waived if you stay within the same banking group. Apart from the withdrawals many of the benefits are the same as for a current account, including statements and a debit card. Most expats will set up both a current account and a savings account. Transfers of monies to other countries are fairly straightforward and can be done online or at your branch, which is ideal for those who are working in the country to send money home.
Accounts in US dollars are frequently requested by expats, usually to make it easier when transferring funds from abroad. These are available as current and savings accounts. There is also a minimum deposit for foreign currency accounts and interest is normally paid twice a year, as with savings accounts. It is possible to arrange a fixed term savings account which is flexible. The account holder chooses the number of penalty-free withdrawals that they are allowed to make each year and the account earns a slightly higher rate of interest than other types of savings accounts. The only difference with these term deposit accounts is that they may require a much higher initial deposit. This can be several thousand dollars, but this will vary from bank to bank.
Online banking is very popular in Trinidad and Tobago and it can be used to monitor transactions, transfer monies, pay bills and set up direct debits and standing orders. Telephone banking is also frequently used. There are few restrictions on carrying out transactions at other branches of your bank.
Banks are open during normal working hours, though some branches in more rural areas may only have part-time opening hours. Online banking can be accessed 24 hours a day and most banks will have a customer service department which can be contacted by telephone outside normal working hours.
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