You’ve moved abroad and need a bank. Which one should you choose?

It’s obviously impossible to name a single bank which you can choose simply because no single bank operates in every country of the world.

There are some general pointers as to how to go about choosing your bank though.

One school of thought is that you should choose the local bank with the most branches in the area which you’re moving to. That’s a reasonable approach in that for most countries there’s a charge to use ATMs that aren’t owned by your own bank so it may save you on ATM withdrawal fees. However, be wary of local banks that don’t operate internationally on a widespread basis or that don’t attract many foreign customers as you can come unstuck very easily through not having local banking practices explained to you. This even applies in many cases where banks operate English speaking branches: they might well speak English but often banking terms don’t translate well.

The other school of thought is that you should choose a bank based in your own country but with branches in your new country. This can work well in that the banking staff should be more familiar with the banking practices that you’re used to and sometimes offer good deals on money transfers to/from your home country. So, for example, if you’re American then the best choice is usually Citibank as that operates as a local bank in many countries yet retains an American feel in every location in which it operates and offers good deals on transfers between Citibank accounts in other countries. However, if you’re British, you might think that HSBC would be the way to go yet because it bills itself as “the world’s local bank” it tends to follow local banking practices more than British ones although it does offer transfers to your HSBC accounts in other countries.

Don’t forget that you don’t need to choose a single bank. One combination that works very well is a local bank with low charges and lots of branches combined with an international bank to handle your global transfers.

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