Banking & Phone Setup For Expats
#1
Looking to switch up my banking and phone setup.

I would like to have a permanent US number to use for stateside banks.

But it is a bit tricky as some online services like Google Voice doesn't always work even when ported. And other options seem expensive or don't have wifi calling/texts. 

Just learned about UltraMobile PayGo prepaid plan. 3 dollars a month. Gonna order a sim off ebay and try to get it set up or have someone back home do it. 

For banking, I just learned about Revolut. I like how it allows you to instantly top off your account with any visa/mastercard. It also provides virtual cards. Seems this would be good for holding small amounts for emergencies and little things and also transferring money from Vietnam to US with minimal fees and not having to go into the banks which always take 1 hour for even small tasks. 

I also read about N26 and made an account, but don't see the option to top up with a card. Both of these are European banks/services. 

Going to switch my main accounts from BoA/Ally to Alliant Credit Union + OneFinance. Ally has good customer service, but their app design isnt very good. 

I prefer sleek modern apps and website UIs. 

Also need to get a Vangaurd account.
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#2
When I was in the US a few months ago, I also tried to set up UltraMobile PayGo service. I got the SIM but I couldn't even activate it on their website, nor over a long phone call. I was told to get yet another SIM! So yeah, I can't recommend it.

For now I just use Google Voice tied to a US Mobile number. Google Voice so far has worked with my Capital One credit card for SMS verification of my overseas online purchases. The US Mobile number doesn't work overseas but I just pay the minimum of like $5 a month to keep it active for Google Voice's sake.

I also tried Lycamobile US, but even in the US, sometimes texts would either be delayed or go missing, so I can't recommend them either.

For withdrawing money overseas, I love my Schwab bank account. ATM fees refunded worldwide, market exchange rates, and no annual or other silly fees.

When my dad died I was glad he had Fidelity instead of Vanguard. The Fidelity branches all over the US made it much easier and faster to do the associated paperwork. Fidelity's pricing is also at least as competitive as Vanguard's, IMO.
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#3
Get Charles Schwab account and their atm card is free with no transaction fees overseas.
Revolut is not a bank, I have heard some people have a lot of trouble, like once you hit $2500 in deposits they freeze the account etc. It's all anti-money laundering bs.

If you need to pay off credit cards, many of them allow you to pay by Western Union, so you can use cash in almost any country to pay a US credit card that way. You can also send money to Charles Schwab account by Western Union etc. I think BoA card can be used to pay other credit cards etc.

I am in the same situation, it's a huge pain and I have not found an ideal situation. I have 3-4 banks, 3-4 credit cards, and when a problem arises with one I move to the next, as can take months to resolve problems, and by the time I get one card working again, another has a problem. It's been constant problems trying to maintain US bank accounts while overseas.

Dash, which foreign country is it? Because many countries have specific problems/solutions
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#4
I don't know if any of you guys have ever used Majic Jack? It was popular years ago. But you can get a working USA VOIP phone number. You just have to buy a phone cable and cheapass house phone from America and plug everything into the usb phone jack. I used it a long time ago. It works. Iam not sure if you can hook an answering machine up to it though.

https://www.magicjack.com/
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#5
Get a Charles Schwab checking account. Two accounts are even better. Lock debit cards on the app except when you withdraw cash. Have another, non-Schwab account as your main one, lock that debit card and never use it, link that acct to Schwab accts and transfer $1-2K to each of them, then keep refilling as you withdraw cash.

Google FI for cell phone service / roaming. Alternatively, a local number and Google Voice but voice doesn't always work with banks etc. Google FI is a real number (not VOIP) so it should work for verification purposes.
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#6
(01-22-2021, 06:05 PM)blackfriar Wrote: I don't know if any of you guys have ever used Majic Jack?  It was popular years ago.  But you can get a working USA VOIP phone number.   You just have to buy a phone cable and cheapass house phone from America and plug everything into the usb phone jack.  I used it a long time ago.  It works.  Iam not sure if you can hook an answering machine up to it though.

https://www.magicjack.com/

I've done something like this, from another company (8x8). The little box is the size of a computer mouse so easy to carry around. Now they have a mobile app so I dont' even need to carry the box thing when I travel.

For spending abroad, I use TransferWise and they give you a bank card as well. It's like Revolut, and pretty easy to use. Works great for low-value transactions in local currency, as you can convert money before-hand so you have money in that currency already on your account.
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#7
You can use messagebird for a US number and then set up flows to have the texts and calls forwarded to your end point of desire.
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#8
I recommend and use RedPocket.com.  They will send you a sim card with a US number and you can purchase minutes and data for as little as $10 a month with an option to autorenew. If you keep the service, you can keep the number and I have had mine for years now.   

If you have an iPhone, you can use the wifi calling feature to use that US number even while you are overseas!  So long as you are calling to the USA, all calls routed thru the wifi system are free of charge, but you will be charged international toll rates when you are overseas calling to a non-US number.
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#9
(01-23-2021, 04:54 AM)WorldConquest Wrote: For spending abroad, I use TransferWise and they give you a bank card as well. It's like Revolut, and pretty easy to use.

I vouch for TransferWise too as a really good backup when ATMs both home or abroad somehow eat our main cards or I somehow get locked out by my local financial institutions before I need to verify myself again.
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