Banking Overseas

“I am a legal resident of Argentina. I’m currently visiting in the States but heading south soon. I have two questions:

“Do you know anyone who could recommend a bank in Uruguay? The word in Argentina is that you can NOT trust any bank there with serious money. Uruguay has a good name and would be convenient, but I don’t want to walk into just any bank…

“Second, what about a European bank that accepts U.S. citizens as new account-holders? I understand that it is becoming a challenge for an American to open an account in Europe, and I think I need to do something while I still can (if I still can).”

Arlean K., United States

In fact, you have an option in Argentina that could make sense: a private bank in Buenos Aires. There are several, and, though they operate out of Argentina, they don’t keep your money there. The downside is that you don’t get an ATM card or checks. To withdraw money, you wire it to another account or go into the bank in person.

Regarding banking in Europe, you’re right…it’s more and more difficult for an American to open an account in that part of the world, but you do have options. Most Swiss banks won’t touch a U.S. citizen in the wake of the UBS debacle. But Swiss banks don’t make sense for the average person anyway, as they require high minimum balances (typically US$500,000 or more).

Anglo-Irish Bank in Austria will no longer open an account for a U.S. citizen either, but, unlike Swiss banks, Anglo-Irish still will open an account for a non-U.S. corporation owned by a U.S. citizen.

Other options in Europe include Jyske Bank (www.jyskebank.com), Barclay’s International (www.barclays.com/international), and Banque Transatlantic (www.transat.tm.fr/index.asp), with offices in D.C., Paris, and London.

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