We will be making our move to the Boquete area May 1st. One of our concerns is the least expensive way to access our money.
We have been in contact with HSBC and their fees are a bit stiff, especially for incoming and outgoing wire transfers. Using the ATMs in Boquete to access our US accounts incurs fees from the ATM terminal in Boquete and our bank in the States. With a maximum limit we can access daily meaning several accesses a month, we can see that getting to our money will get expensive.
We would love to hear about what methods US expats are using to move money around and inexpensively getting access.
Which credit union in the States are you using and which banks ATMs in Panama? When we used the HSBC ATM in Boquete, we got hit with a fee from both HSBC and Navy Federal Credit Union. Makes taking money out ($400 maximum per day) get kind of expensive/
My wifes S.S. check is deposited to our bank in the States automatically. We write a check from our U.S. account to ourselves and deposit it in our Boquete bank account. No charges on either end. However, the Panamanian twist... There is a 15 working day lapse between the time we deposit our check here and the time we have access to the funds. Keep in mind, WORKING DAYS, if there are holidays it extends the 15 days by the number of holidays that fall into that time frame.
My bank in the U.S., which formerly was a credit union until very recently, doesn't charge for ATM withdrawals, and I have never been charged using its card in an ATM in Panama. I can recall using Banistmo, Multibank, Global, and Banco General ATM's. For large purchases in Panama, I try to use a credit card, but about every six months or so we wire a substantial amount of money down to our bank account here so as to have cash on hand. The wire costs $25.
I'd reccomend having at least two ATM sources of money. I find that those moments when I need a large sum of cash having access to the maximum from two accounts can be a real blessing. I went with money stateside and with Banistmo. I won't use Banco Nacional any more.
Both my husband and I receive government pensions. We have debated the wisdom of having one of the pensions direct deposited to a Panamanian bank. This would avoid a wire transfer fee from a stateside bank to Panama. We're not sure if this will work, will have to check with the government agency.
I don't move money between accounts. Only reason for the two accounts to have access to $1000 a day withdrawal if those funds are necessary. Maximum withdrawal per account is $500 ... where as the default is $300 I think. A thousand bucks covers a lot of expenses in Panama.
Thanks to all who had great comments and suggestions for accessing money.
I found a bank online (Great Florida Bank) that does not charge a fee for ATM usage worldwide. They also will reimburse if you are charged a fee by another bank. We have to take a drive to Boynton Beach (about 4 1/2 hours drive from here) to open the account but after that can do everything online.
We still have the issue with wire transfer fees if we need large sums. I'm sure we can come up with a way to get that done without generating such costly fees.