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Two Proposed US Laws That Would Affect Americans Living in Panama

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I believe all the banks now charge a fee to deposit a foreign check into your account. We avoid this by doing mobile deposit on our I Phone and auto deposit into our US Bank.

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Multibank does not charge us a fee for depositing a check on our US account.

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I want to change my bank in the US.  I am paying to much foreign transaction fees when using an ATM or using the Visa Debit Card.   

Maybe I will have to travel to Miami and see if I can open an account in another bank with better service and lower international fees.

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15 hours ago, Roger B said:

I want to change my bank in the US.  I am paying to much foreign transaction fees when using an ATM or using the Visa Debit Card.   

Maybe I will have to travel to Miami and see if I can open an account in another bank with better service and lower international fees.

Try this:

http://www.thebudgetmindedtraveler.com/how-to-set-up-a-charles-schwab-bank-account-and-avoid-atm-fees-anywhere/

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There are online U.S. banks you can use that charge no or very little fees because they do not have brick and mortar locations.  If you are a veteran of the U.S. military, you might want to consider USAA (I use this online bank).  While you still pay that horrible Panamanian fee at the the ATM, USAA reimburses $15.00 per month for fees charged by any ATM.  I get this every month and it offsets what I pay in fees to use the Panamanian ATM's.

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10 hours ago, Roger B said:

Thanks...

I will study this very well.

If you have a Panama address for your Schwab account they will not issue a Visa credit card. You get a Visa debit card. Excellent customer service and $5 to $0 dollar trading fees for investors. The article quoted is incorrect in saying Schwab provides banking. PNC bank is used for the cards, but is branded "Schwab".

Edited by Admin_01
restructure posting to place new content outside of quoted reference material

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If anyone is interested in not paying ATM and Foreign transaction fees just Google Charles Schwab Visa Debit card. You can open an account on line with a US address. 

We have an International  Financial Investment account. Last year Morgan Stanley "fired us" as we live here in Panama and most firms were dropping their expat clients due to all the regulations. We switched our accounts to Schwab and could not be happier with their service. Our International Advisor is from David, Panama and his team represents Expats and Foreign Nationals in Central America.

PM if you would like his contact information.

We also have USAA. Another great company with very low fees and great service.

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"You can open an account on line with a US address."

It cannot be the address of a mail forwarder, though. That's the rub. I've found that I can't get new credit cards or change credit cards to take advantage of a better deal because of this. Not thinking clearly about what kinds of strange problems one can have with a credit card, I foolishly canceled all but two of mine upon moving here. Now I would like to have a couple more for backup but can't get them because of the address issue. 

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22 hours ago, Pantah said:

If you have a Panama address for your Schwab account they will not issue a Visa credit card. You get a Visa debit card. Excellent customer service and $5 to $0 dollar trading fees for investors. The article quoted is incorrect in saying Schwab provides banking. PNC bank is used for the cards, but is branded "Schwab".

 

Well.  I guess I could use the address of some family members living in Florida.  

Looks like because I am not a resident in the US and not a citizen also I need to go personally to those banks and open the account and with the branch manager look for the account and benefits needed.

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48 minutes ago, Roger B said:

Well.  I guess I could use the address of some family members living in Florida.  

Looks like because I am not a resident in the US and not a citizen also I need to go personally to those banks and open the account and with the branch manager look for the account and benefits needed.

I tried using the address of a family member in the U.S., but apparently the credit card company researched my history and could find no previous record of my living there. Bummer.

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Our arrival time is getting closer, mid-January so I'm back studying all the comments on bank accounts.  Points of clarification 1) as renters for at least one year, is a bank account really needed at all?  @Bonnie, when you say 'US bank check' do you mean a personal check or some other type of check? 2) what about using a 3rd party internet based money transfer such as Paypal?  We need to buy a car while we are in Panama City and are considering the best way to do this without carrying a wad of cash on the plane with us,  Advice? 3) Is there one bank that serves David, Boquete and Panama City that is recommended over all others by this board?    Thanks.

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2 hours ago, Panawanna said:

Our arrival time is getting closer, mid-January so I'm back studying all the comments on bank accounts.  Points of clarification 1) as renters for at least one year, is a bank account really needed at all?  @Bonnie, when you say 'US bank check' do you mean a personal check or some other type of check? 2) what about using a 3rd party internet based money transfer such as Paypal?  We need to buy a car while we are in Panama City and are considering the best way to do this without carrying a wad of cash on the plane with us,  Advice? 3) Is there one bank that serves David, Boquete and Panama City that is recommended over all others by this board?    Thanks.

I meant a personal check.

I bought a car from another expat by making a bank transfer from my u.s. account to their u.s. bank account. I know one person who bought a new car on his American Express card. For something as expensive as a car, the wiring down of money may not be impractical. Just three ideas.

 

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We bank with Charles Schwab in the US. They refund all our foreign ATM fees once a month. When we bought a car here, we simply called and asked for a one time exemption on the daily limit. The banker stayed on the phone with us while we withdrew the money to be sure we had no issues. You do need a US address in order to bank with Schwab. We've been here 7 years and have never found the need to have a Panama bank.

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Regarding taxing the worldwide income of American citizens who live abroad:  I find the reporting requirements very easy using the online FBAR form and TurboTax.  It is not burdensome to me.  What would be burdensome is, if my Panama income were no longer taxed by the U.S., would it now be taxed by Panama?  Having to file Panama income tax forms would be a complete unknown to me and a potential nightmare.  I'm sure I couldn't do it with TurboTax.  I have asked this question before and have never seen an answer.  Does anybody know?

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Updates on Fidelity fees and moving money.   Using the Fidelity ATM or other credit cards, there is a 1% only fee if used for a purchase at a point of sale.  The fee is not charged for an ATM cash withdrawal and ATM fees are reimbursed.  Only wire transfers are available to move cash from Fidelity to a Panama bank.  Wire transfer fees on both sides apply and a form must be set up prior with authenticated signatures.  The form is The Standing Instructions Authorization Form, which would then allow your Fidelity to wire transfer funds to your Panama Bank at your request. The 1% is not applied to wire transfers.    EFT, or Electronic Funds Transfer, is not available to send money to non U.S. banks.   The daily limit for the ATM/credit card purchase is $10k.  Cash withdrawal is limited to $500/day.

I've also talked with PayPal.  If an individual or a business has a PayPal account, there is no issue in sending money from your PayPal account to their PayPal account.  The sender is charged 1/2 of 1% of the total send. The max daily is $10k. I am not certain about the receiving end because if they wish to move the cash from the PayPal account to their bank account, I am sure there are fees from the receiving bank.  Those fees will vary if it is a business versus an individual PayPal account.  

My question now ....  is PayPal common in Panama?  For individuals?  For business?  My attorney in PTY does not use PayPal or any other 3rd party money transfer app.  She maintains a U.S. bank account to accept payment for her services.

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2 hours ago, Panawanna said:

Updates on Fidelity fees and moving money.   Using the Fidelity ATM or other credit cards, there is a 1% only fee if used for a purchase at a point of sale.  The fee is not charged for an ATM cash withdrawal and ATM fees are reimbursed.  Only wire transfers are available to move cash from Fidelity to a Panama bank.  Wire transfer fees on both sides apply and a form must be set up prior with authenticated signatures.  The form is The Standing Instructions Authorization Form, which would then allow your Fidelity to wire transfer funds to your Panama Bank at your request. The 1% is not applied to wire transfers.    EFT, or Electronic Funds Transfer, is not available to send money to non U.S. banks.   The daily limit for the ATM/credit card purchase is $10k.  Cash withdrawal is limited to $500/day.

I've also talked with PayPal.  If an individual or a business has a PayPal account, there is no issue in sending money from your PayPal account to their PayPal account.  The sender is charged 1/2 of 1% of the total send. The max daily is $10k. I am not certain about the receiving end because if they wish to move the cash from the PayPal account to their bank account, I am sure there are fees from the receiving bank.  Those fees will vary if it is a business versus an individual PayPal account.  

My question now ....  is PayPal common in Panama?  For individuals?  For business?  My attorney in PTY does not use PayPal or any other 3rd party money transfer app.  She maintains a U.S. bank account to accept payment for her services.

You cannot move money received in a PayPal account to a bank in Panama.  They aren't set up for that.  You can use it to purchase things on a site that accepts PayPal, but you can't withdraw money.  You have to link it to a US bank account to receive money, but then you're right back where you started regarding how to get the money to Panama.

A few years ago I tried to set up a PayPal account for Amigos de Animales, and I was told by PayPal:   "The option to add a bank account based in Panama is currently not available. For members who are using a Panama PayPal account, they are only able to add a U.S. bank account.   Establishing our services in each country involves complex changes due to different government and banking regulations."

I doubt this has changed, but you could go to PayPal and find out.

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2 hours ago, Panawanna said:

.  Only wire transfers are available to move cash from Fidelity to a Panama bank.  Wire transfer fees on both sides apply and a form must be set up prior with authenticated signatures.  The form is The Standing Instructions Authorization Form

Based on the experiences of others, I would recommend that you make these preparatory arrangements before leaving. 

Edited by Keith Woolford

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18 hours ago, JudyS said:

You cannot move money received in a PayPal account to a bank in Panama.  They aren't set up for that.  You can use it to purchase things on a site that accepts PayPal, but you can't withdraw money.  You have to link it to a US bank account to receive money, but then you're right back where you started regarding how to get the money to Panama.

A few years ago I tried to set up a PayPal account for Amigos de Animales, and I was told by PayPal:   "The option to add a bank account based in Panama is currently not available. For members who are using a Panama PayPal account, they are only able to add a U.S. bank account.   Establishing our services in each country involves complex changes due to different government and banking regulations."

I doubt this has changed, but you could go to PayPal and find out.

"Panama is one of the supported markets for Paypal. An account can be created and linked with a local bank account in Panama. Check with your local bank whether you can withdraw in USD and exchange later or directly in the PAB currency." (from https://www.finder.com/international-money-transfers/send-money-to-panama)

Hank Landis tells me he uses Paypal to transfer money but that it has a limit of $2,999.

Another interesting article is here: http://transumo.com/send-money-overseas-by-paypal-to-bank-account/ 

This is for information only. I've never used Paypal to transfer money to Panama. Also, it's my recollection that other charities have had to use a trusted member's Paypal account to accept Paypal donations online. Maybe something has changed?

 

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26 minutes ago, Bonnie said:

"Panama is one of the supported markets for Paypal. An account can be created and linked with a local bank account in Panama. Check with your local bank whether you can withdraw in USD and exchange later or directly in the PAB currency." (from https://www.finder.com/international-money-transfers/send-money-to-panama)

Hank Landis tells me he uses Paypal to transfer money but that it has a limit of $2,999.

Another interesting article is here: http://transumo.com/send-money-overseas-by-paypal-to-bank-account/ 

This is for information only. I've never used Paypal to transfer money to Panama. Also, it's my recollection that other charities have had to use a trusted member's Paypal account to accept Paypal donations online. Maybe something has changed?

 

I will check that out again.  PayPal was so adamant that they could not connect to a Panama bank, I gave up.  Maybe things have changed.  That would make money transfer so easy.

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I have a PayPal Panama account. The only thing it does for me, but it’s worthwhile, is to guarantee my local Panamanian credit card which some businesses in the U.S. with automated payment systems are programmed to reject. 

Edited by Keith Woolford

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29 minutes ago, Keith Woolford said:

I have a PayPal Panama account. The only thing it does for me, but it’s worthwhile, is to guarantee my local Panamanian credit card which some businesses in the U.S. with automated payment systems are programmed to reject. 

Having a Panama Paypal account is different from using a U.S. Paypal account to send money to a Panama bank. I know that hasn't be possible in the past. Like Judy's experience with AdA, Bid 4 Boquete was unable to do it. And I know that both Buenos Vecinos and ARF have been obliged to use the personal accounts of members to get money donated online via Paypal. This sounds like something new. I find it very annoying that bank transfers aren't possible between the U.S. and Panama, obligating clients to spend a ridiculous amount of money to wire funds. If indeed Paypal between the two is now available, it will obviate the need to wire or write a check for amounts of money under $3000--particularly when my Panama bank and most others hold the money for two or three weeks before depositing it in your account.

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