Friday, February 20, 2009

My Bank Account Is Bleeding Money

Ugh, this trip is costing me lots of cash.  AND when I got to my weekend job today, no pay check as I had hoped. I had hoped for another partial paycheck, but the trainer is off this weekend and as told earlier, new checks will be cut next week. It's times like this I wish for direct deposit for this job. I made the offer to bring over to the UK some treats and clothes for my friends.  Last time they did not take me up on the offer, this time they did. I have laid out about $300, of which I'll get back $280 (I bought two tee-shirts as gifts).

Clothes are much less expensive here in the US than they are in the UK.  Like half the price.  I've picked up jeans, sweatshirts, a fleece jacket, and some shoes.  I've figured out the exchange rate and I'll get paid in Sterling when I'm "across the pond".  It's just a little shocking to see the money depart my account NOW.  I will use that money as my pocket cash. The upside is I'll be given cash and I won't have to pay that overseas transaction fee of 3% when I take money out of the ATM.  

I went to my bank to "buy" some Sterling and found out they no longer sell or buy non US dollars.  They directed me to the local Bank of America.  I figured out that it will be cheaper for me to just go to the currency exchange booth at the airport and get some Sterling to get me started.  BoA has some sort of a  ridiculous fee that is more than the exchange booth (or at least what the exchange booth web site has printed).

29 comments:

Fabulously Broke said...

It's hard to see money drain out of the account but at least you'll get back the bulk of it .. and you're having fun, right? :)

Dawn said...

Well, think of it as storing your spending cash over there temporarily. Then once you arrive you can give them their goodies and they can give you your cash - as you said, without the exchange fees. I can see it would be a pain though.

Miss M said...

That's nice of you to take over gifts and other items. I know England is pretty expensive, I'm not surprised those things are cheaper here. I know how you feel about the cash drain, I always spend more on vacation than I mean to. But you only live once, I hope you enjoy the trip.

Elizabeth said...

You know you should never use those currency exchange places right? They are a big rip off. This is not new news, this is the way it has been for years. Either simply go to a cash machine at the airport in london and use your ATM card or go to a bank in england and change travellers checks. the fee they charge you for changing money at a currency exchange place is exhorbitant.
I have been to London 40 times in the last 25 years and trust me, your bank will charge you about $3.00 for taking cash out of it in England--much cheaper than paying at a currency exchange.

Bouncing Back said...

Elizabeth-You have good advice, but it won't apply to me this trip. Up until these past couple years, I've traveled extensively in the UK and have done all the various ways of getting USD to Sterling. It used to be the ATM option was the cheapest and easiest way. I'd hit the local Lloyds TSB or HBSC, get some cash from the "hole in the wall" and be on my way with minimal fees. I used to have a credit card that charged minimal fees as well.

My local bank will not only charge me a conversion fee, but an overseas's transaction fee of 5% per use as well if I use my ATM/Debit card, PLUS a flat fee for using the card overseas. It's clearly spelled out in their policies, so no surprises on my end for the use of the card while traveling, I even asked that question when I opened the account a few years ago. It's a small local bank. It has other perks that make up for their odd currency exchange guidelines (Canada being the exception to their policies for foreign transactions). My other bank that I have an account with an ATM/Debit card with, not quite as small, not quite as local, also changed it's policies about a year ago much to my dismay. I know some UK banks are also charging fees as well. The currency exhange fees end up being less expensive than my bank, I did the math on the numbers. Buying currency from BOA as a non BOA customer (my local bank does not sell non USD, BOA does) also ended up being more expensive than exchange (my bank charged a small fee, BOA charged a small fee). I also checked out Triple A with pretty much the same results. Except for landing at the airport (and it's not in London), I'll be in very small towns, one of which does not even have a bank. The other town does have a bank and one of my friends was going to get back to me today with what they will charge for converting dollars to Sterling since she is a customer of the bank. We may go that route and if that is the case, I'll bring a wad of US cash with me and change it on Friday. I'll just keep any unused money for the next trip and not get hit with a fee for converting back to USD. I don't mind paying a fee one way,I don't want to pay it twice and get wacked on the repurchase of currency, which is NEVER in the customers favor.

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