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Old 12-30-2002
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Bank Accounts and ATM Card access

Hi, A new twist in my plans to sail off the edge of the current bank, Wells Fargo were very assuring that my ATM card would work around the world...they lied...
What I have discovered sitting here in a quiet little village in Italy is that my ATM card does not work. After numerous phone calls to WF''s Customer Service Dept. they made the statement that their most common complaint is that there ATM cards do not work in France, Italy, or Spain. It seems that America uses a 6 digit PIN number while here in Italy they use a 4 digit PIN number. while the ATM machines see the card they do not recognize the longer PIN number. Now, I do not know how accurate that statement made by Wells Fargo is since the local bank manager said their bank uses a 5 digit PIN code. Either way, the dam thing doesn''t work! I''ve looked into setting up another account through one of the Internet Banks that says they cater to expatriots living overseas. However, I was hoping to get some opinions from some folks out there and pointers to a bank that does have an ATM system that actually work worlwide? Thanks.
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Old 12-30-2002
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Bank Accounts and ATM Card access


I would recommend you consider moving away from a bank altogether and do your ''banking'' thru one of the ''one size fits all needs'' brokerage companies. I have had excellent success using T Rowe Price''s Asset Manager Account thru-out the Caribbean, which includes a variety of poor(er) countries of multiple ethnicity and weakened infrastructure PLUS a good test of any American system - it works in Departments of France. ( Your available cash plus investments can be reviewed 24/7 on the Web, their ATM card is VISA (most widely accepted, internationally), they accept collect calls from anywhere (other than a prison, I''m told) to resolve an issue, and moving money between accounts is possible. They provide checks, monthly statements (on-line and on paper) and have a charge resolution process if your VISA gets zinged unfairly. The cost is $40 U.S./year.

I''ve especially appreciated the collect call option and have had to use it multiple times. While other brokerages offer a similar plan (e.g. Merrill-Lynch''s CMA account), the TRP folks have always been easy to work with in my experience (15 years now) and they operate like Plain Vanilla vs. the ''high rolling stock broker'' style of some. Their principal business is no-load mutual funds.

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