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North America Topics specific to Canada and USA/Alaska only.
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  #1  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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US bank account and 90+ day visa options

Hi everyone - hoping to gain some advice as I seem to have left everything a bit last minute...

I'm planning to go to the US at the end of september and buy a bike and register it there, then travel around the western states for around 3 months...

I have two main questions:

1) does it make sense to set up a us bank account (either before or when I arrive) and transfer some £££s to $$$s so I'm not continually paying commisson on using my UK Visa/debit cards? I have an address I can use in the US but was wondering if they will let you have a bank account/card etc without being a resident?

2) As a UK citizen I know I can stay for 90 days without the need for a B2 visa - however, I sort of wanted to stay for a couple more weeks to the middle of January... I will be going into Mexico for at couple of weeks at some point (going to ride in Baja!) - can anyone confirm if this would allow me another 90 days once I re-enter the US, or is that 'loophole' essentially closed now? - I looked on the US embassy website and it seemed to suggest that any trip into Mexico or Canada and back out would have to be as part of the original 90 days - can anyone confirm or advise a way around this?

Many thanks in advance...

JennyMo xxx
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Old 13 Aug 2007
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Cash Card Fees.

JMo,

I think most of the high street banks (well at least HSBC and Barclays) operate what I think is an unpublish option on cash withdrawals and credit cards purchases.

Phone your bank and tell them that you will be overseas for at least three months (possibly more) and you don't want to pay commission charges at the usual rate.

I did this and pay a flat fee of £6 per month, but in return I do NOT get charged for 'any' cash withdrawals in 'any' country and get the 'bank' conversion rate NOT the tourist rate! Which more than pays for the flat charge.

I have been told that some banks will even reduce the interest rate percentage on your credit card purchases - but I have no experience of this myself.

Its worth a try... it would save the hassle of setting up new accounts, etc.
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Old 13 Aug 2007
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Apply with E*Trade Bank in the US...its an online bank account and opt to recieve online statements...see how it goes.
You may be able to fund the initial account with your Visa debit card and the rest is history. Let me know how you make out.
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Old 24 Sep 2007
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us bank account

Hei a us bank account is easy just need proof of id and a local address,also travellers cheques are the same as cash there,then you can pull up to a drive through bank,i'm a kiwi no problems with not being a us resident,ron.
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Old 24 Sep 2007
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Update

Great stuff! - thanks for the info guys...

Just to update you the way I did/am doing it:

I've got my friend in the US to open an account (in his name - I trust him x), and have transferred the bulk of the money I need from Stirling to USD (got a good/better rate at my bank) via Swiftbic.

I've also taken out a 'Travel Money' card credited with some USD from my bank here in the UK - you get a better exchange rate than the typical tourist rate, but not as good as I got with the electronic bank transfer.

Once I get to the States I can transfer the US account into my name, and have a debit card/cheque book etc issued in my name as required... and use the Travel Money card in the meantime.

btw. It's worth noting that the Barclays Travel Money card while commission free if used as a debit card (in shops/hotels/petrol etc) they do still charge you 2% if you make a cash withdrawl from a cashpoint, which is a bit of a swizzer... A friend mentioned to me recently that Nat West (I think) have a similar card, but without the 2% for cash withdrawls, which is worth considering if you are planning something similar in the future....

Anyway, I'm off this coming Sunday!

I'll keep in touch,

Many thanks again...

JennyMo xxx
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