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Old 07-25-2011
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banking while cruising

Know this can't be the first time this is asked, but did a search and found nothing. Maybe i need to work on my search engine skills... Anyway, My wife and i are making preparations to become full time cruisers and my question is this: Should I open a bank account in the Caribbean? We will be mainly cruising in the Caribbean so I wondered if were best to open an account there. Also, do most pay with debit/credit cards and keep little cash on hand or what? This is an area I have found nothing on in the books I have read. Also with the current problems in the U.S. with debt ceiling etc. I wonder if it would be wise to have part of my money off shore anyway. we are Texas residents and will maintain an address her at our daughter's and have her screen our mail for important mail such as Soc Sec notices etc. We will maintain an account here where Soc Sec is deposited but could set up automatic transfers to an off shore account if that is best. Please let me know what way most cruisers handle this aspect of things.

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Mark
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Old 07-25-2011
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Your US bank cards will work pretty much everywhere and there is little or no advantage in opening up a US$ account in the Caribbean if all you are looking for is easy access. An account in Euros might make sense if you plan on visiting the eurozone and believe that the dollar will weaken against the €uro. Many countries have a different tax policy to that of the US and offshore accounts don't need to be declared, which makes them interesting - but US citizens and tax residents need to declare all accounts worldwide, so there's no advantage there.
I've used my bank cards, debit cards and credit cards without a hitch all over the Caribbean. I might have to pay a withdrawal fee, but access is good where there are machines (and in the BVI finding an ATM that has been fed and functioning can be a challenge). A healthy amount of cash in small denominations in reserve for places that don't take plastic is a good idea.
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Old 07-25-2011
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Found my credit cards and debit cards to work all over asia as well. When I have worked overseas a local bank account was handy. Also the stash of small bills is very handy. I get tired of all the fees though and can be up to 3% or more, so when I return to the USA I come back with a stash of larger bills.
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Old 07-25-2011
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We have all our incomes directly deposited into our US bank accounts and manage our funds online. Credit card use and ATM cash withdrawls are available almost everywhere and we hold over a bit of cash for other places. The internet has been a great tool for fulltime cruisers. If the task becomes a burden for your daughter, St. Brendans Isle provides a secure residency & mail service. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 07-25-2011
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Keep your US accounts. You will find it almost impossible to open a bank account in the Islands and it will have little benefit. If you feel you must look into Scotiabank and open the account in the US.

Having two bankcards from different banks one Visa one MC is not a bad idea. Do not expect all ATMs, to take all cards, everyday. It is the Caribbean.

Keep a few hundred dollars in small bills [no 100s or 50s] you will find that anybody with contact with tourism or cruisers will accept them and give change in the local currency.

Amex travelers cheques are still accepted too but I wonder for how much longer.
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Thanks

Thank you for the good information. I appreciate it very much.
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Old 07-29-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TQA View Post
Keep your US accounts. You will find it almost impossible to open a bank account in the Islands and it will have little benefit. If you feel you must look into Scotiabank and open the account in the US.
I agree. You should be fine, but as a former employee of that bank, they have a HUGE presence in the Caribbean and Central America, and US$ accounts are simple to open.
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Old 07-29-2011
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I stayed with my bank back in Indiana. It's a sound regional, not national, institution and I have a personal relationship with a number of people there. When ever I need something, it's just a phone call or e-mail away.
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