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Access to cash and credit during extended foreign travel
Old 09-21-2018, 12:58 PM   #1
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Access to cash and credit during extended foreign travel

I plan to travel after retirement for extended periods of time, more than the typical 10 days to 2 weeks that I do now while working. I expect I may take trips for up to a month or more, and I have been wondering if there are any issues related to accessing cash or using credit cards from U.S. based accounts while taking extended trips abroad?

I have experience traveling out of the country for up to 2 weeks, and before I leave I tell my bank and credit card issuers where and when I am going and I haven't had any issues using ATMs to get cash and using my credit cards. Easy peasy. But what if I stay abroad for say 2-3 months or more, would I have any issues? Would my bank or credit card issuer notice that I am using my accounts in a foreign country for an extended period of time and assume I have moved and no longer live in the U.S.? Can I continue to use U.S. based bank accounts and credit cards for unlimited amounts of time while living in a foreign country? Are there any "gotchas" like a requirement that I be a U.S. resident in order to maintain the account, and if I regularly use my account in a foreign country for several months at a time would I trigger any algorithm to cause my account to be flagged because I no longer "live" in the U.S.?

Just curious if anyone has experience with extended foreign travel who can share their thoughts on this subject. Thanks.
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:02 PM   #2
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I plan to travel after retirement for extended periods of time, more than the typical 10 days to 2 weeks that I do now while working. I expect I may take trips for up to a month or more, and I have been wondering if there are any issues related to accessing cash or using credit cards from U.S. based accounts while taking extended trips abroad?

When I go out of the country for up to 2 weeks, before I leave I tell my bank and credit card issuers where and when I am going and I have't had any issues using ATMs to get cash and using my credit cards. But I am curious, if I stay abroad for say 1-2 months or more, would I have any issues? Would my bank or credit card issuer notice that I am using my accounts in a foreign country for an extended period of time and assume I have moved to live there? Are there any "gotchas" like a requirement that I be a U.S. resident in order to maintain the account, and if I regularly use my account in a foreign country for several months at a time would I trigger any algorithm to cause my account to be flagged because I no longer "live" in the U.S.?

Just curious if anyone has experience with extended foreign travel who can share their thoughts on this subject. Thanks.
No - not for two months. I’ve had no problems. A couple places might have made me call in the travel dates, but nothing more than that. We always do travel notices with specific dates as required, and have had no problems.

I can’t answer that latter part. No one bases your residency of off credit card usage overseas.
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:03 PM   #3
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I've never had any problems. I do carry two ATM cards and two credit cards so I'll always have a backup if there are any computer glitches.

We charge anything we can on credit cards, and thus use relatively little cash except walking around money. You don't have the same legal rights with an ATM card that you have with a credit card.

Some card companies want to know ahead of time where you're going. Since we all have the PIN and Chip cards, some companies don't care where and when you're traveling out of the country.
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:07 PM   #4
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Lived in France for many years. Was paid in USD direct deposit into my Bank of America account. Never had any issue withdrawing cash from an ATM. Never any problem with credit cards although it might be smart to let them know. YMMV
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:11 PM   #5
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Typically, Visa and MC like to know your travel dates and countries, while Amex usually doesn't care.

I've never had a problem on trips of over a month. Overseas ATMs are just like the ones here, and the best way to get cash.

And even if there was a problem, you can just call the number on the back of your card from wherever you are and straighten it out.
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:21 PM   #6
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I've never had any problems. I do carry two ATM cards and two credit cards so I'll always have a backup if there are any computer glitches.

We charge anything we can on credit cards, and thus use relatively little cash except walking around money. You don't have the same legal rights with an ATM card that you have with a credit card.

Some card companies want to know ahead of time where you're going. Since we all have the PIN and Chip cards, some companies don't care where and when you're traveling out of the country.
+1.

I carry a debit card to grab a few hundred Euros (Pounds, etc) as needed, other wise everything is paid by cc to score perks and bennies. Amex sucks in Europe - not welcome in many, many places, so stay away from that. In our experience, Visa and MC are widely accepted in Europe and Asia.

DW and I both have a couple grand in dollars tucked away as back up SHTF reserves, but haven't needed it (yet).
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:25 PM   #7
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So let's say I plan on traveling to Germany and staying for six months, do I just tell my credit card company that I will be there for six months? What about a year? Is there any point where I would no longer be considered traveling but considered to be living there? Could you simply move to another country and use your U.S. based accounts perpetually? Would they care?
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:43 PM   #8
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The CC companies don't care. I don't even notify them when leaving the US anymore. I am aware of many retirees that practice global arbitrage to manage retirement COL. The never mention CC issues (and I know they use CC's (they plug a few).
On the residency isssue, that a legal matter, not related to CC's.
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Old 09-21-2018, 02:52 PM   #9
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If you know ahead the length of your stay, call and let them know. So far I have no problem. But I do call and let them know ahead of my travelling. As far as ATM for cash, I use PenFed, thanks to some guy from Bogglehead, no charge at all.
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Old 09-21-2018, 03:09 PM   #10
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We spend about 2-3 months per year in Europe now and have had no problems with debit cards. In the past we used to notify the bank issuing the card where we plan to travel to but now they just know based on the airline ticket purchase. Keep in mind credit/debit card fraud is pretty common in Europe especially in France. Large hotels are not the problem but small shops and restaurants can be as well as gas stations. We normally pay cash at restaurants, gas stations, and small shops. It may be a good idea for you to set up a Citi Global Currency account to hold foreign currency to avoid cross currency fees if you plan to make frequent trips abroad.
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Old 09-22-2018, 11:59 AM   #11
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Agree with the others, no issues as long as your banks are notified. Once the info is related to the bank it's a done deal. For most banks now these notifications are by computer or automated phone conversations. Not a live person.

The only issue I have for foreign travel is accessing my different accounts online with the security system's in place. It knows when your account is being accessed from a foreign country and will sometime not allow me to sign-on. More then once I've had to call my bank and have them allow me to log in from a different country simply because of the IP address. If you'll be paying bill's online just remember that.
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Old 09-22-2018, 12:16 PM   #12
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Agree with the others, no issues as long as your banks are notified. Once the info is related to the bank it's a done deal. For most banks now these notifications are by computer or automated phone conversations. Not a live person.

The only issue I have for foreign travel is accessing my different accounts online with the security system's in place. It knows when your account is being accessed from a foreign country and will sometime not allow me to sign-on. More then once I've had to call my bank and have them allow me to log in from a different country simply because of the IP address. If you'll be paying bill's online just remember that.
I have been able to access my accounts, but most make me go through additional verification and Fidelity warns about restrictions that generally have to do with foreign owners of brokerage accounts.
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Old 09-22-2018, 12:28 PM   #13
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I just got back from six weeks overseas. I knew in advance the length of travel and didnít change it. I was able to access all of my financial accounts with no problems though a few knew I was overseas from my login (but I told all in advance before leaving) and advised me they knew and some required extra verification. I have never been an auto pay person for my regular bills and in preparation for my trip I ďoverpaidĒ things like phone, power, and health insurance to cover me until I got back. I will be rethinking my auto pay habits as I did learn that I was unable to access my power company or health insurance company online while abroad. I might experiment with VPN on the next trip.
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Old 09-22-2018, 12:32 PM   #14
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One site I can no longer access from overseas is PayPal which is super annoying. At least I can still make PayPal transactions. It’s very weird restriction- they reroute you to the PayPal site for whichever country you are in, and won’t let you access the US site.

However, magically, when you buy something overseas with your PayPal account, the bring up your us account to complete the transaction.
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Old 09-22-2018, 01:47 PM   #15
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I just set my travel notification on my Chase CC card and below is what they show after I submit my notice. Looks to be unlimited to me.

"Your travel start date and end date can be up to a year apart. If you'll be traveling for more than a year, you can extend your notification anytime after your trip starts."
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Old 09-23-2018, 12:35 AM   #16
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I have been able to access my accounts, but most make me go through additional verification and Fidelity warns about restrictions that generally have to do with foreign owners of brokerage accounts.


I use a VPN service to access my accounts in Europe. It is more secure than most WiFiís.
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Old 09-23-2018, 02:44 AM   #17
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We live permanently abroad and have no problem using our US bank and US Credit cards (no foreign transaction fees when traveling in Europe). We just renewed our US passports which required international money orders, or US bank cashier's checks, for $110 and the application sent to the US Embassy in London. (They only take credit and debit cards in person). Not only did my bank in the US Fedex the checks to us they did so at no charge (SHOCK!)
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:44 AM   #18
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I use a VPN service to access my accounts in Europe. It is more secure than most WiFiís.
Could you explain how that works?
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:45 AM   #19
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Could you explain how that works?
There are various services available, I use TunnelBear and have it on my laptop, iPhone and iPad. They have servers in lots of countries around the world. You can tunnel to the country of your choice and your IP address is assigned from the country you have chosen, plus a VPN, Virtual Private Network, is exactly that, and canít be hacked into so using a VPN connection into the same country you are in is a lot more secure.
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Old 09-23-2018, 08:36 AM   #20
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There are various services available, I use TunnelBear and have it on my laptop, iPhone and iPad. They have servers in lots of countries around the world. You can tunnel to the country of your choice and your IP address is assigned from the country you have chosen, plus a VPN, Virtual Private Network, is exactly that, and can’t be hacked into so using a VPN connection into the same country you are in is a lot more secure.
Ok, but wouldn't you have to use Wifi in order to access the VPN? Eastbayboy said it was more secure than Wifi and that confuses me.
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