Overseas Banking Basics
When being deployed for an extended period of time or PCSing to an overseas location you will find it necessary to set up some form of bank access. You will need to be able to make purchases and pay bills sometimes in the local currency.
If you are being sent to a large enough military installation, there will most likely be an American bank on that installation that you can have access to with your ID card. There you will be able to access your funds and covert dollars into the local currency when needed.
If you choose to set up an account at the location you have transferred too, you will probably find that there banking options are much like those you are used to including checking and savings accounts and debit and credit cards, as well as loan programs and currency exchange. However, there are often foreign transactions fees that come with debit and credit card use. Some larger institutions, especially those that focus on military members like USAA, wave the foreign transaction fees for their members. You can visit www.miltaryinstallations.dod.mil/ and enter in your military installation and select financial institutions to see a list of available financial institutions at your military destination.
There are many financial institutions that operate abroad. The following is a list of some of the larger more well-known ones.
- USAA Federal Savings Bank – www.usaa.com
- Chase Bank – www.chase.com
- Navy Federal Credit Union – www.navyfcu.org/
- Service Credit Union – www.servicecu.org
- Community Bank – www.dodcommunitybank.com/home
These banks are available to you and located on many overseas military installations. If your bank offers the necessary features such as online banking and bill pay and foreign money transfers you may not find the need to open a local account at your new station. However, there are some advantages to having an actual brick and mortar facility to go to. For example, having money exchanged into local currency to pay bills or purchase items is much easier if you have a local account and usually has low fees associated with the conversion. On the other hand if you are having to transfer money from stateside accounts the fees can become rather costly. Also if loans are required for any reason it is much easier and quicker to exchange all necessary paperwork and funds through a local institution. Having a local bank also gives you the ability to obtain a local credit or debit card that will be accepted more readily and a greater number of places. Your American based cards may work at some places but not everywhere. This will eliminate the trouble of finding a facility that accepts your card. Also, English is almost always spoken by at least some of the staff at local foreign banks, but there are a few that only communicate in their language.