Transferring money from the U.S. to Germany

Best ways of moving your money to a bank here

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dblaisde
I'd like to transfer quite a bit of money to Germany. I basically want to clean out my US bank account, and put the money in a German bank (I know, bad timing). My lame US bank can't do this (international wire transfers), and says even a check will be a hassle on the German end. So, I get another US bank. What do I need to look for on both ends (I don't have a German bank yet) to make this as painless as possible. And traps? (eg: I've heard you get in trouble with the US if you don't report transfers of over $10,000.)

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silty1
Go to xetrade.com, set up an account. It takes a few days for the papers to go through so you can prove you're not a money-launderer, but once set up, it's a breeze. No commissions, decent rates - better than the rip-off rates at the banks here, anyway.
Odenwalder
You want banks on both sides that work with SWIFT transfers. It's really not a big deal (at least I don't think). I know for sure that Bank of America and Sparkasse both work fine in this area. I've made numerous transfers from BoA to Sparkasse, several of them well over $10k and never had any issues. This was post-9/11 as well and there were never any questions. If I remember right, there was a flat fee for each transfer of about $45 or something like that regardless of how much or how little was wired.
jen13
Personally, I would hold off on transferring all your money from your US account to your German account for a few reasons. First and you already addressed this is the horrible conversion rate. You will in the end loose a load of money. Second, from my own experience some things are cheaper when you pay directly with US dollars, ie plane tickets. Third, if you ever go back to visit in the states you will not have to exchange currencies again. Finally, with a US bank account you can buy gifts (ie family birthdays, wedding gifts etc) online and have them mailed to the person directly.
I have been here for awhile now and having a US bank account has saved me loads of money and time. If you can live here with out all the money, I would recommend leaving some of it there for the time being. Also, if you ever move bank you will have some "starter" money. That's just my opinion.
kyllmann
I have my accounts with a little regional bank in the midwest, and they can transfer money to my German account - all they need is my German account number, SWIFT code and fifteen bucks. Takes about a week for the money to make it across the pond. I figure if they can do it, anybody can... If all else fails, set up two paypal accounts (a German one and a US one) and paypal the money to yourself. No idea how much they'll charge. But you're already taking a beating on the exchange rate, so what's the difference
Odenwalder
If he goes the Sparkasse route, he would open a US Dollar account with them and transfer his money from the US account to the Sparkasse Dollar account. The money will remain there, in USD, until the account holder moves some or all of it to a Euro account. He can leave the USD in that account for years without worrying about exchange rates or interest and just exchange what he needs when he needs it.
dblaisde
What are the limits of these transfers? I'd like to transfer up to $100,000. This sounds like bragging. It's not. I worked a lifetime for it. I just don't want to set something up and find that I can only transfer $1000 a month. Heard you about keeping a US bank account. I plan to. (it's an open question though, whether the US dollar (vs. Euro) will ever be worth more than it is now (at least for 10 years or more) "Bernake pesos", as we call them now)

cheers and thanks
Odenwalder
I didn't transfer 100k at one time, but I did transfer $40k & 50$ (and several between 20-30k as well) over a period of 18 months. I don't think there is a limitation as long as you inform your bank in the US that you don't want a limitation on your SWIFT contract. You can even do the transfers over the phone from Germany if you like. Just make sure you have both accounts opened (German & US banks) and a SWIFT authorization set up at the US bank (have to be there in person to do this) before you leave for Germany for the last time. If I remember right, you have to have a SWIFT authorization set up for each account that you want to transfer money to. I could be wrong as I was in a MAJOR rush to get the banking situation taken care of before heading off to my new job.
CarolynS
One thing I can tell you is my experience of setting up a wire transfer was a huge hassle. Perhaps it was my bank in the US, Chase. For phone wire transfer, I had to fill out the paperwork. After it's "approved" I'm sent in the mail an activation code -- which took 10 days to get to another U.S. address. But that was only the first activation code. The letter says, for security purposes I'll be sent a second activation code in three more days. Like ... what type of security is that. Once I have both codes I can call a phone number to activate my account. It took me -- not kidding -- a out 10 phone calls to get everything set because it was an automated system that kept saying it was busy, or that it couldn't process my request at this time. Then once I got through all the automated stuff, I got a real live person who apparently pushed a button to transfer the funds but said it could take up to 5 business days to "clear." I was astounded. I signed up for online international wire transfer next which was a bit easier but still took 10 day to get the "codes" in the mail. I wish you luck. Apparently Homeland Security has put these roadblocks in place to "protect the nation."
Darkknight
What are the limits of these transfers? I'd like to transfer up to $100,000. This sounds like bragging. It's not. I worked a lifetime for it. I just don't want to set something up and find that I can only transfer $1000 a month.
Then do as others above have mentioned and goto XE-Trade
tomgraham
Can't speak for the US but I've found the best way to get funds from my UK account to my German account is simply to pay in my own cheque made out to me. The cheque takes 5 days to clear and I pay a charge, per cheque of Eur 11.50, regardless of how much is involved. All other methods I've tried have cost a percentage of the transfer plus a transfer fee. Obviously, transferring small amounts this way would be expensive but for anything over GBP 1000 it's fine. A good friend of mine swears by www.xe.com but the benefit seems to be only a good transfer rate. Once you've got an account it's OK, but for a single transfer it seems longwinded.
krostitzer
I went into sparkasse where I have my account, they told me I can write myself a check on my american bank and deposit it, it would cost somewhere around 40 euro total. seems reasonable and painless compared to the other options...
Pmohsgrl
Let me guess, you bank with Washington Mutual, or a credit Union ...

Set up a Bank of America account online, it takes a couple weeks. You need an address in the US for them to send things to you, but if you contact them and explain you are in Germany they will be very accomodating. They sent me my bank card via DHL over here. Only start out with a small amount to open the account, about $50 in each account.

I recommend bank of America because they have a relationship with Deutsche Bank so it doesn't cost anything to withdrawl money - only a small % of what you are taking out. I usually pay no more than 70 cents when I take out 200 euro at a time.

When I transfer money to myself from here, it takes 3 days. So I imagine it would be the same in reverse.
allenz
As far as depositing US checks in a German account, I do this every month. I just write a check to myself from my US account and give it to the bank clerk here at the Sparda Bank. It takes about a week for the money to arrive but is relatively cheap at 7,50 EU. The exchange rate seems decent to me, and there is no fee on the U.S. end.
Bruchsicher
Hey all,

I'm currently in America, and I'm wondering how I would go about getting my money from an American bank to one in Germany once I have opened an account there. Of course you're free to offer words of wisdom whether I ought to go try and convert the (near-)full value of an account, but I am starting with that assumption. I am not experienced with travel and I am moving to Germany with expectations of employment mostly as an afterthought, so I need to live off savings while I adapt and look for work. I'm in my mid-twenties and I hold an EU passport (Italian dual citizen).

SO...

1.) A representative at Wells Fargo suggested that I could have a traveler's check (or checks) issued for the amount of the account, which I guess I could then deposit into a German account once it's opened.

2.) A representative at CitiBank suggested that I open an account with a co-signor here, open another CitiBank (oder StadiBank?) account in Germany, and then the both of us do a transfer.

3.) I saw somebody mention XE in another post. Unfortunately it was only first mentioned, then praised, with no further elaboration in layman's terms along with any attempt to allay fears of sending money through a faceless online intermediary. Can I basically just hop a plane, open a German account wherever there's EFT(?), and then have XE move real big chunks from one to the other without involving another live person?

I am intending to move a very large amount of money, enough to buy decent a car wholesale. So, you can imagine that I REALLY want to minimize fees, deductions, etc., especially if they work out according to percentage rates. Anybody have an opinion on the future outlook of the exchange rate? I really can't believe the dollar would equal the euro by the end of the year. Far be it from me to say something that could end up sounding unpatriotic but the value of the dollar is just disappointing, almost shelved my plans last summer because of what went on and I just can't let that happen to me at this point if I can help it.

This is the pivotal detail in my relocation plans besides the EU passport, so thanks in advance for whatever advice you can give me and please be detailed (write your response as if I'm at risk of doing something stupid).

- O.M.

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