Any banks with US and German branches

13 posts in this topic

EArly next year I'm headed to Europe for a period of at least 5 months. My base of operations will be GErmany, but I expect to spend a month or two in France and Spain as well. I'm trying to figure out how to best arrange my finances for the duration, keeping in mind that the move may become permanent...probably to Germany, but possibly to one of the other two countries.

 

First, I'm wondering if there are any banks that have both GErman and US branches, which would allow intra-bank transfers from a US account to a German account without paying hefty fees? Probably too much to ask that global banks like Deutsche Bank, HSBC or Citibank would do this, but figured I'd ask.

 

Second, do I understand correctly that if I open an account at say Deutsche bank (or another in the Global Network) that I should be able to use my debit card for that account at any Global Network ATM without a fee in the other countries?

 

Third, what exactly is an EC card? Is it essentially a debit card?

 

Finally, would appreciate any advice on how I might best set up finances for this period. I'll be retiring at year end and expect I would have monthly transfers from my retirement accounts directly deposited to a bank account either in the US or in Germany, if that's possible.

 

Thanks!

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Do you have an extended visa to stay 5 months in Europe? Normally, you just get 90 days.

 

I don't think you can open a bank account in Germany without having some sort of residence visa.

 

Just use your ATM card to get money. There aren't any German/American bank deals. I wish there were, but we haven't found any. Husband gets his pension into an American bank, than uses an ATM to get his money to put into our German account.

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I have an account with Bank of America in the US, and it's part of the Global Network. I can get money out at Deutsche Bank and other members with no fees. You won't likely be able to open a German account until you settle here--and in fact, there's no need to.

 

Second Moondancer: before you buy plane tickets and make plans, be sure you will be allowed to stay for five months. Non-EU citizens traveling in Europe (those who don't normally need an entry visa) only have 90 days within the Schengen zone before having to leave for another 90 days. I assume you're either American or Canadian, this applies to both nationalities.

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Unless something has changed recently, Targo Bank (which used to be CitiBank) allows free wire transfers between the two. If you do have a visa and will be registering as a resident then this could be an option. Might also be something for you to check out, Moonboot?

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It will change soon, I am not 100% sure of the date but sometimes this year Targobank will sever its last ties with citibank. :( I think it is on 31.12.14.

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Thanks for the replies all. It's too bad about Targo and Citibank that would have been a great solution.

 

As for the visa issue, I have every expectation of getting an extended visa after arriving in Germany. In Aug when I was in Germany visiting the friends I will be living with come February. I visited the local Auslanderbehorde to ask about the a process and likelihood of obtaining either a freelancer visa or simply an extended stay visa without work permission. I explained my financial resources (retiring at the end of this year) and confirmed the need for adequate health insurance, and was assured that provided I had no history of drug smuggling or the like that there would be no difficulty in getting a visa to stay longer. When I asked if I should make application in the states before arrival, I was again assured that there was no need I should simply come back there when I was back

 

One reason I thought of opening an account there is that I am contemplating a more permanent move. This trip is a sort of trial run at the expat life, if it suits,, I'll be back next fall, looking to rent an apartment, and I expect having a German bank account will make that much easier.

 

Residency for a period of 5 months ( about half of which I will actually be traveling outside of Germany) does raise the question of tax liability though. Assuming I get the extended stay visa and have an official address at my friends home, will I be liable for income taxes in Germany on my U.S income drawn from my retirement savings account?

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It is possible to open a bank account in Germany without having to be a resident, albeit a but difficult.

 

For example, DKB bank also allows non-residents to open a bank account. You can in fact open an account even without coming to Germany. But the bank is a bit picky when accepting its customers, i.e expects decent salary, a good reason to have a German bank account (like having an apartment here with rental income, or frequent travel due to German clients etc, planning a move is also good I suppose) and some basic knowledge of German (because they call you to ask why you need to open the account). But there are other banks which does allow non-residents too. There has been some discussion on this in the forum already, see open a non-resident bank account in Germany and opening a german online bank account from abroad.

 

DKB bank would be perfect for you because it gives you a credit card which acts as a debit card for free cash withdrawal worldwide from any Visa ATM (most of them are VISA).

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To answer one of your original questions, an EC card is like a standard US debit card, but unlike most debit cards in the US which also work via signature and/or on the Visa/Mastercard networks, it seems like it's totally separate and only works with a PIN. There are places where you can only pay with EC card, and potentially (though I've never seen this) only with credit card.

 

If you have a US bank that allows you to use your debit card to withdraw overseas without fees, you could probably get by with that for a long while. Germany is a predominantly cash country anyway, so it's only if it's your personal preference to pay with a card (EC) as much as you can, that it'd make sense to try to open an account here. Also if you need to make payments via bank transfer (like rent).

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Preston: Thanks...DKB does sound like a decent option.

Polexa: Thanks for the info. That was what I assumed, but am glad to have it confirmed. And it just now occurs to me...does EC stand for electronic chip? I kept mentally harking back to European Community and wondering if that could possibly be it!!

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[adminmerge][/adminmerge]

 

After 15 years in Germany, we will be heading back to the Midwest in the USA for a two year assignment.

 

Needless to say, much has changed, especially in the financial and banking sector. I was hoping there may be a similar Toytown expat that could instill their wisdom, advice and experience and suggest a good banking chain with ties in Germany and the U.S. that can be used for typical banking needs in both countries since we will be traveling between the two frequently. Criteria that would be helpful: low money transfer fees, low ATM fees, banking locations and branches in both countries, and perhaps experience with expatriate / international clientele.

 

Thanks so much for any tips, recommendations or things to avoid! Unfortunately, I did not find any specific advice online or with a google search.

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After 15 years in Germany, we will be heading back to the Midwest in the USA for a two year assignment.Needless to say, much has changed, especially in the financial and banking sector. I was hoping there may be a similar Toytown expat that could instill their wisdom, advice and experience and suggest a good banking chain with ties in Germany and the U.S. that can be used for typical banking needs in both countries since we will be traveling between the two frequently. Criteria that would be helpful: low money transfer fees, low ATM fees, banking locations and branches in both countries, and perhaps experience with expatriate / international clientele.Thanks so much for any tips, recommendations or things to avoid! Unfortunately, I did not find any specific advice online or with a google search.

 

I don't think you need a bank with ties to both countries.

 

What I think you need, in each country, is a bank that allows you to do pretty much everything online (including wire transfers both within the country and between countries) without having to visit a branch. That's very important if your're not physically present in the country. The other thing to look at are the conditions for accessing your account while abroad (how much does the bank charge for using its Visa/Mastercard while abroad? how much does it charge for foreign ATM withdrawals?) There are German banks that are very good in both of those respects, and they are even free of charge. See e.g., DKB and Consorsbank.

 

For transferring money between Germany and the US, also have a look at XETrade. It doesn't cost anything to open an account, and I'm sure it will come in handy at some point.

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