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Old 11-26-2013, 08:21 PM   #1
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Banking underway

We plan to move aboard and loop next summer. We're wondering about other cruiser's experience with banks and banking while underway. We're selling the house, selling off everything we don't need, and simplifying. We understand most payments and services can be made online, but were wondering about availability of banks/ATMs as we travel about. We plan on having 2 boat units hidden onboard, but would want to replenish that when it gets below 1. Don't want to pay out the wazoo for non-affiliated ATM fees. Any suggestions?
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Old 11-26-2013, 08:37 PM   #2
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A non issue. Use your debt card for everything and once in a blue moon get some cash and pay the $1-2 fee.
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:25 PM   #3
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There are many different approaches. Within the United States and Canada cash can be obtained easily by selecting one or more banks with a large number of branches and ATMs. This will vary depending on where you are. Remember you can set up a savings account and draw from it using an ATM card. Thus you could have savings accounts at multiple banks and deposit to that account when you are in its region.

As to bill payment. On line works, although I prefer auto pay so that I don't have to do financial transactions over wifi.

This gets much more complicated if you go to the Bahamas or Mexico as the foreign transaction fees will start at 3% unless you find the right charge, debit and ATM cards.

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Old 11-26-2013, 11:49 PM   #4
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No different than when at home.
I use my credit cards wherever possible to cover 95% of expenses, which are paid off automatically at the end of each month so no interest charges, and withdraw cash occasionally to cover small expenses. Regular bills taken care of on auto-pay.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:04 AM   #5
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We also charge most expenses; receive and pays monthly bills over the internet. Have Debit Card thru Fidelity, they reimburse ATM charges. Rarely have more than $500 cash on the boat (when we cruised the Caribbean we carried more cash, but never needed it). Internet access and ATM machines are available virtually everywhere. Banking is not a problem.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomas View Post
Rarely have more than $500 cash on the boat (when we cruised the Caribbean we carried more cash, but never needed it).
When we were cruising the Caribbean we were told at the outset to always have a stash of cash just in case. So I got $5,000 in small bills and hid them in a safe place on the boat where no one would ever think to look. We cruised for four years and it was never needed. But when I got back home I couldn't remember where I had put the cash! Took a long, long time to find it, because I had hid it well. Where no one would ever think to look. Including me!
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Old 12-01-2013, 10:08 AM   #7
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Bank of America has the most ATM's in the US, followed closely by Wells Fargo. BOA has a smartphone ap that lets you handle pretty much all your banking needs. You can take pictures of checks to deposit them, transfer funds, do bill pay, etc. Use the card at ATM's.
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Old 12-01-2013, 10:27 AM   #8
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You may also want to check with some of the larger credit unions as well as online banks.

Some of them will reimburse you for out of network ATM transactions.
Not sure what online banks can do, but since they're "online", I would think that they would be a bit more accommodating?

Worth looking into.
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Old 12-01-2013, 10:33 AM   #9
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jwnall - we had a similar experience with out "cash stash", except yard workers in Cartagena found the money and left it in its original envelope on the nav table. $2000 in faded, crisp $100 bills removed from the headliner where I hidden them 5 years before. Couldn't find anyone in Central or South America who would accept it, but no problem spending it in the US.
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Old 12-01-2013, 11:09 AM   #10
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Tomas,
Nice little surprise to find.

Although not surprising they don't take US dollars. I'm sure you'd also have trouble spending Columbian peso's in the US.
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Old 12-01-2013, 11:38 AM   #11
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Although not surprising they don't take US dollars. I'm sure you'd also have trouble spending Columbian peso's in the US.
Actually, in the several years that I spent cruising in the Northwest Caribbean, I found that that even the most remote, isolated coastal village would always accept US dollars. All change is in local currency, though, so best to carry small bills.
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Old 12-01-2013, 12:29 PM   #12
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If your going to take a cash stash, take smaller denominations, $10's and $20 bills. The US $100 bill is the most counterfeited bill in the world. Especially in some areas of south and central America. Even in Europe the banks were reluctant to accept them unless you had or were setting up an account at their bank.

I use a Bank of America debit card for withdrawing ATM cash for local currency and back it up with an American Express and Capital One credit card. I haven't checked it out yet, but B of A has a travel card that is supposed to have some advantages for travelers?? I don't particularly like B of A, but they do have an abundance of branches and European partner banks that you can use while traveling.

Why three cards? Debit cards are the best deal for ATM's, but have a habit of not always working at some banks and ATM's in countries where debit cards are not used. Don't carry all the cards in the same place, one in your wallet, one hidden somewhere not on your person and I use a money belt for passport and the 3rd card.

Occasionally a card may stop working or be locked out by Visa / Mastercard. I rented a car in Portugal using a VISA card. Tried to use the same card to purchase gas and it was declined. Found out after I got back that the car rental company had put a limit hold on the card to cover the insurance deductible on their car. Once the car was returned, the card started working again.

Notify your card company security that you will be traveling outside of your country and make sure they have your cell phone and email address to contact you. Many companies allow you to do it on line and it's pretty simple. If you don't, they will see out of country purchases and if it's not in your pattern of card use, they may lock down your card until they can contact you.
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Old 12-01-2013, 12:57 PM   #13
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Many banks have Auto Bill pay, so you don't have to mess with any bills at all. You set it up-the bills come in- you're given notice by email, they pay them, and that's it.
Other than that cash is always good to have on hand. Those new $100.00 bills are pretty cool and can't yet be counterfeited. The Bahamas only accept cash for clearing Customs.
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