I currently bank with RBS.
I am travelling for 2 months in Asia (24 Oct - 20 Dec) and then onto Australia for a year. I want to transfer some of my savings over to Australia when I arrive but will need to leave funds in my account whilst on the move etc and I would like advice as to what the best bank is to go with when withdrawing/using debit card. RBS currently charge @ 2% for foreign withdrawals so i'm willing to change bank now in enough time before I go to ensure I can withdraw my own cash and not be charged. I have started research online but would really appreciate personal advice from peeps.
I'll also need to take a couple of credit cards and would appreciate any info relating to this too.
Banks are out to make money. If they can levy a charge on you they will, so not a lot of difference between any of them.
Lloyds TSB I would avoid like the plague as far as travel is concerned. And as far as transferring money is concerned.
What you need to do is have a chat with your bank manager and leave details with him/her on your plans. If you have credit cards, send letters of your plans to them. Take a cheque book with you so you can send minimum payments while away.
On arrival in Asia, use your credit cards for a nominal sum. If OK, no problem. If not, as in your credit card company has filed your letters in the bin and now want you to phone them (not easy from Asia) to check you are really there, it gives you time to sort things out.
For sending money via your bank, you will need the IBAN (International Banking) numbers for the bank it is going to; which will be the country code and area, bank code, and bank account number. Mine is two letters and 25 numbers long.
I am with Barclays, and while I was in Spain recently, my account was blocked due to fraudulent activity apparently (Later we figured out the activity was me using on-line banking, and 3 or 4 different cash machines in one day -_- ) However, they blocked my bank card, and when I rang up about it they said they was unable to do anything without me going into a branch and sorting it out directly, as they couldn't prove it was me requesting the card to be unblocked. I guess my account password wasn't enough.
Before I went I used my online banking to let the bank know I would be in Spain, and I also went into my local branch over it, so they did know I would be away.
So I wont be able to recommend a bank to you, however I can advise you not to use Barclays, as in my experience they were extremely unhelpful.
Thanks for the responses. I've decided (so far) to go with a HBOS Clarity Credit Card. It has a good read up on MSE website and there are no fees for using abroad unlike many others. I may just have to stay with my RBS account and transfer funds to the HBOS card when required.
If anyone wants to add to this I'll be checking back periodically so all posts gratefully received.
i use HSBC. no charge for me to do transfers of funds and withdrawals in other countries. but i'm not sure if it's because my parents are premiere members? =/ you could try to check that out.
I did pop into HSBC and they said they would charge - me finks it's because of your parents being premiere members! Lucky!
Remember there are two ways in which a bank can charge you for an overseas withdrawal - one is via an explicit charge that appears as a separate line item on your statement (it could be a fixed fee per usage of an ATM, or a % of the amount you're withdrawing), and the other is via giving you a bad exchange rate. With an HSBC Premier account, there's no explicit charge for the transaction, however the exchange rate they use is 2.75% worse than the wholesale market rate.
From what I've seen, the HBOS Clarity card is probably the best one out there, one reason being because they use the wholesale market rate without taking a cut. Yes, you'll pay interest but it should work out less than any of the usual bank charges you'd get with a normal ATM/Debit card (I think 3% is quite standard now). I haven't actually used the Clarity card myself, but there are enough threads around on various sites to suggest that it's the way to go if you want to give as little money to your bank as possible!
Thanks Mohn......Clarity Card did sound good so I've applied for it and been accepted for it.
A few points :
You can go most places with a visa or mastercard franchised card.
A few years ago I travelled US for 3 months, notified my bank and put a credit on the card before leaving. It was a mastercard credit card.
I travelled for 4 months this winter using a visa badged debit card. I had enough funds in my account and only needed to notify my branch before leaving. I took a 2nd debit card as an insurance policy, but didn't need to use it.