Over the past few weeks one thing I’ve noticed as a reoccurring problem for some of my flatmates is banking.
Personally, I just followed the advice our University advisors gave us: open an account with Bank of America. I have a debit account with my cash and a credit card that I use for all my spending. In addition, I have another BoA credit card under my father’s name – should anything be wrong with mine.
Bank of America customers get free cash withdrawals from any Barclays ATM, which means in France I got free withdrawals from Barclay’s partner BNP and in Italy with BNP partner BNL. It’s a long trail of partnerships, but it made getting money out – everywhere I went – free.
In addition, any purchases made on my credit card are fee free, too. You won’t see this on your debit card – most banks will charge you for each transaction. Since both of my cards are with Bank of America, I just log in to my online account, go to the “transfers” tab, and use their functionality to easily pay off my bill.
Check the Fees
Even if you decide to go with another bank, a good idea is to use all of your cards once early on and check the accounts. This is how I kept straight what was and wasn’t getting charged. All of my debit cards are charged for transactions, unless I’m using an ATM with my BoA card. My Discover card (which I was told would be accepted wherever ‘Diners Club’ is) actually isn’t accepted anywhere accept “big” or “expensive” stores, according to one shop clerk I spoke with.
Transferring money between banks can be very pricey, so if you want money from home I would recommend your parents opening a BoA account as well, so they can transfer money to you for free. When I opened my account, I simply withdrew nearly all of my money from my main debit account (I wanted to keep this account open as it’s connected to subscription services, so I left some money in it), went to a BoA branch, and deposited the cash. No bank-to-bank fees.
This is something I would definitely recommend looking into closely. Many people here are paying fees for every purchase they make or any time they withdrawal cash. Some people didn’t know they were being charged (as they had been informed their debit card would have no fees) until about a month and a half in! One flatmate actually decided to open a Barclay’s account because she was encountering so many fees with transactions and transfers. Another flatmate was charged for a ticket he purchased online but never actually received – all because of bank issues.
And, before we go, make sure you have local contact information for all of your providers as well as scans of all your cards – just in case anything goes wrong!