I only WISH I were wired on that lovely South Indian Filter Coffee. No, this is about international banking — which sounds so much more James Bond than my reality. I had to wire funds from my US bank to my landlord’s Indian bank for my apartment deposit and 1st month rent. Doesn’t that sound easy?
I went to my US bank branch before I left. I resigned myself to using my current bank (fees stink everywhere, unless you’re crazy rich, in which case all banks will waive fees — so through-the-looking-glass!). Anyhow, I went into my bank in person to let them know I was moving, that I’d be banking on-line from India and that I’d be sending international wires. I wanted to ensure things would go smoothly and I wouldn’t have any surprises. I thought I was asking all the right questions and doing all the right things. But you never know what you don’t know. (Apparently, my branch doesn’t know either…)
Firstly, at every step of the on-line way, the bank kept requiring me to enter a super secret code that they could only text to my US cell. (Hello international text fees… cha-ching!) I realize it’s for my own safety, but what an expensive and tedious step. And since I TOLD them I was going to be doing all this, do they really need all that security? Secondly, to my surprise, my wire kept getting rejected for “exceeding limits” — although no one at my branch mentioned anything about limits and I couldn’t find ANYTHING on the bank’s website about what the magical limits were.
Luckily, I spend most of my jet-lag-up-too-late last night setting up Skype stuff, including a feature that lets me call the US from my laptop, unlimited for what seemed like a reasonable annual fee. In fact, I just saved more money on cell-calls -avoided than I spent on that annual fee. How? Because I had to call my bank in the US to straighten everything out with this wire transfer and no amount of “I’m calling from India, can we make this quick” expedited anything with the four (4) customer services reps to whom I was transferred. I was so glad I called via Skype. I’m not paid to endorse Skype, but do so voluntarily. (My bank shall remain nameless as they are not getting any endorsement.)
Long story short, now I know the super secret wire limits and I was able to make the transfers.* Yes, plural. Perhaps I’m jaded, but I suspect that the limits are simply ways for my bank to ensure that they get multiple wire transfer fees by forcing people to make multiple wires. I know it’s feasible to send more by wire, because the bank reps told me that there are no limits on commercial accounts, only personal ones. (So business can save fees, but individuals can’t? Must be the jet-lag because I am jaded about this….)
*Technically, one of the wires won’t go through until tomorrow.