Managing the financial affairs they leave behind is the last thing most people consider when moving to another country. Some leave behind unpaid loans or mortgage, and others an empty bank account. It’s only when they return for the holidays and obligations have piled-up that they realize they need to get their finances in order.
When expatriates go home with only a UAE-issued debit or credit card in their wallet, they find that accessing funds locally can cost them dearly in transaction fees. While there are banks that have a global presence, they may charge high for withdrawing funds outside the country.
When expatriates go home with only a UAE-issued debit or credit card in their wallets, they find that accessing funds locally can cost them dearly in transaction fees. While there are banks that have a global presence, they may charge high for withdrawing funds outside the country.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to maintain a bank account in your home country.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to maintain a bank account in your home country. It doesn’t just help expatriates save money on bank fees, it makes it a great deal easier to honour important commitments, from making a down payment for a house to paying a mortgage.
It takes the hassle out of carrying huge amounts of cash and risking violating anti-money laundering rules while traveling back home. And when the time comes you have finally made up your mind to return to your native country, it becomes a lot easier to resettle yourself.
When I first arrived in Dubai, I set up an account with a bank based in my home country through an exchange outlet here. It was completely hassle-free. All I did was fill out a form and I instantly got a debit card. The debit card, by the way, could only be activated after I return home and slot it into a local ATM machine.
It wasn’t meant to be a savings tool, though. I thought I’d send my holiday money to this account in advance so I’ll have a separate card to use for my vacation expenses and not worry about carrying cash while moving through airports and being on airplanes.
I thought the idea was great, until I wanted to find out if the funds I kept depositing in Dubai made through the other end of the transferring system. Since the account did not come with an online banking facility or a passbook, there was no way to find out if my account actually received the funds. There was no international toll-free number to call either.
Only one primitive option was available: I had to file a request with the exchange outlet in Dubai every time I wanted to inquire about my balance, then spent a week in limbo waiting for some feedback. When I lost the debit card, things got complicated. I spent quite a bit on long-distance charges trying to sort out the issue with a customer service agent.
Managing a native bank account away from home is just a tad inconvenient. To lessen the hassle, a few pointers are worth considering:
• Before setting up a bank account in your home country, shop around for a provider that can best meet your banking requirements while you’re abroad.
• Ensure that you can access your account online anytime to make it easier to keep track of your balance or manage your finances at distance. It’s even better if your bank can assign a regular banking representative that you can contact directly whenever necessary.
• It may be worth opening an account with a bank that has a branch in your current location, as it will be easier for you to sort out any unprecedented issues that you may encounter later on. Where this is not possible, choose a bank that has a 24-hour toll-free phone banking facility. This will prove very useful during emergencies like when you lose your card or you have a problem with your account.
• Pay careful attention to maintaining balance requirements , taxes, transaction fees, as well as waiting periods for money transfers, transfer fees and exchange rates, especially if you regularly move large amounts of money overseas.