Working Holiday Tips: Bank Accounts Abroad

by Melissa on November 12, 2013 · 0 comments

Back in 2010 I started my working holiday in sunny Sydney, Australia.  I was young, hopeful, excited for a fresh start in a beautiful city halfway around the world from ‘real life.’  I knew there were heaps of things to get in order.  I had to get a TFN (tax file number), find a place to live, get a job, and so on.  If I was to be having money coming in and going out though, I knew I would definitely need a bank account.  Getting a bank account abroad can be as easy or as difficult as you choose to make the process.  Here are my working holiday tips for getting an international bank account.

working holiday Do Your Research

I would highly recommend PRE- working holiday, do your research.  Check out what banks are available in your destination.  Do they all allow foreigners to open bank accounts?   What type of identification will you need to bring with you?  Find out what bank will work best with you.  Don’t simply show up at your destination and walk into the branch that just so happens to be closest to your accommodations- like I did.  Unfortunately I didn’t make the best choice in bank for MY personal needs, and soon learned that I should have gone with one of their competitors.  Know what you’re looking for in a bank.  Write down the criteria, and make sure it checks off a lot, if not ALL of those boxes.

Home Bank Affiliation

Talk to an international banking specialist at your local bank – you may be surprised to learn that many banks are affiliated with other banks abroad.  For example – I found out that my home bank did NOT have any Australian affiliate banks, but another popular Canadian bank did.  Ultimately I decided against opening a second Canadian bank account at the new bank solely to utilize its Australian bank affiliation.  Unfortunately for me, this meant couldn’t utilize the ‘no-charge withdrawals’ at ATMs using my currentCanadian account while I was on my working holiday.


Do it In Person

Most banks wont even let you open an account online, and even if they do – opt to go into the bank and sit down with someone to ensure that you fully understand all the fine print associated with your account.  Wouldn’t it be a pain in the butt if you opened account while still at home, only to find out a month into your travels that every time you use your debit card you get charged an insane amount of money?  Go into the branch as soon as possible when you get to your new country, make an appointment, and talk to a REAL person to ensure you’re making the most informed decisions.

in bank
Have YOU had to open a bank account abroad?  What are your tips?


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