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Old 04-20-2011, 07:27 AM   #11
Run
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I would check if there are any Citibank branches and ATMs near your school before opening an account, if not, it'd be really troublesome every time you need to go down to the bank or make changes to your account/withdrawals/deposits.

You could bring some money when you come to the US, use it to open a bank account at the nearest bank then have your parents wire the money over. Also, the people at the bank can help you with setting up a bank account.

Just a suggestion.
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Old 04-20-2011, 12:30 PM   #12
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As Run said, I wouldn't open an account with Citibank here. Its actually not that common a bank in the U.S.
despite its reputation (or infamy during the Great Recession) and the nearest branch may be several hours drive from your campus. Just use Google to see what banks are around your University.

Most of the banks around US Universities are familiar with foreign students. Its easiest with an international bank. For example, there are 3 HSBC branches in Ithaca, where Cornell is. Some small local banks (there are about 8000 banks in the US), which will have names like "Community Bank of Fishkill" don't have SWIFT numbers so its hard for your parents to wire transfer money. I have personally transferred money using Internet Banking from DBS to both HSBC and Bank of America in the US. Up to S$25,000 at a time and it takes only about 1 day for the funds to get over. The US bank charges about USD20 to receive the wire transfer.

Many large Universities accept credit cards, so you can get your parents tens of thousands of points to redeem for your flights home during holidays. Just get them to convince the bank to have a large credit limit (like S$50K) and issue a supplementary card in your name (assuming they trust you). Quite often they bill the parents rather than the child so you may not need to pay directly in the U.S. if they send your parents the bill in Singapore, say a month before its due.

Last edited by myguy; 04-20-2011 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 04-22-2011, 09:09 AM   #13
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Tell you a little banking secret since I'm a banker. Citibank makes money mainly off the foreign exchange rate, so while they like to convince you that you can withdraw money directly from your Singapore account using your ATM Card, they are raking in their profits when you do. Its best to negotiate the best rate in Singapore (one of the largest foreign exchange centers in the world) and then wire transfer a large amount at a time. It helps if your parents have a priority banking or private banking relationship manager to get the best rates. Change Alley also has great rates, but they deal in cash.

Most of the economists in Singapore think that USD/SGD will bottom in 3rd or 4th quarter and then reverse when the US starts to raise rates.

With credit cards points, its best to accumulate them on one card. Give you an example. I have a DBS Treasures Black Card that gives me 2.4 Singapore Airlines miles for every S$1 I charge overseas (its a rarer card to qualify for, but most give you at least 1.2 miles). Hence, if I charge your Berkeley tution and living expenses of USD45K each year, I would get 135,000 Krisflyer Miles (USD45K x 1.25 x 2.4). With those miles, its enough for your 2 round trips home every year.
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Old 05-22-2011, 07:02 AM   #14
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Hi, some questions about preparations.
Is it advisable to transfer money via paypal? the withdrawal fee for figures above $200 is free but a 2.5% exchange fee applies on top of the currency conversion. Or would it be better to simply TT via banks?

The other thing is for my I-20 financial verification, i was given this form to fill up and prove my financial status and a bank endorsement is required to prove my claims. So far both of my banks have claimed that they cannot endorse and sign on that form but instead written a letter of reference to prove that. Is this normal?
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Old 05-23-2011, 08:28 AM   #15
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The best way to transfer money to the U.S. is via wire transfer. DBS internet banking allows you to send up to S$25,000 to any U.S. bank that has a SWIFT code e.g., Citibank, Bank of America etc. If you want the best rate for a large amount you should negotiate with the bank.

For the I-20 financial verification, unless you are a major client (e.g., private banking) of the bank, many banks will refused to sign on the form. Generally, you can get a letter from the bank stating the balance in their account. If there is a huge balance - like USD200K - then no problem. However, most people don't keep that amount of cash around in their bank accounts.

Here is what to do: At minimum, you should ensure that the bank letter says that there is enough in the account for your first year - USD50K. For some universities, that's enough to issue the I-20. However, other universities are much stickier and require that you show some proof that you can afford the next 3 years as well. For that, you will need a letter from your parents' employer HR office stating how much they earn and that they are in good standing as employees. Their annual salaries on the letter should substantially exceed your room and board i.e., at least USD80K+ or so. It doesn't hurt to submit lists of assets like stocks, mutual funds etc etc. Basically, if the bank won't sign the I-20 request and just gives you a letter, you should send as much proof that you can afford the cost as you can find.
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:52 AM   #16
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wow thanks for the info. Helps alot!
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:09 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myguy View Post

Many large Universities accept credit cards, so you can get your parents tens of thousands of points to redeem for your flights home during holidays. Just get them to convince the bank to have a large credit limit (like S$50K) and issue a supplementary card in your name (assuming they trust you). Quite often they bill the parents rather than the child so you may not need to pay directly in the U.S. if they send your parents the bill in Singapore, say a month before its due.
I am not to sure if this is an good idea considering that credit card often have inferior exchange rate.

note to mention if paying overseas school fees does incur the overseas transaction charge
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Old 05-25-2011, 06:05 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myguy View Post
With credit cards points, its best to accumulate them on one card. Give you an example. I have a DBS Treasures Black Card that gives me 2.4 Singapore Airlines miles for every S$1 I charge overseas (its a rarer card to qualify for, but most give you at least 1.2 miles). Hence, if I charge your Berkeley tution and living expenses of USD45K each year, I would get 135,000 Krisflyer Miles (USD45K x 1.25 x 2.4). With those miles, its enough for your 2 round trips home every year.
need to work out the math here for those thinking of doing this.

USD$45K that is how much in fees and exchange rate? SG interest rates today also not too high. of course 1 can invest then there is risk.
SQ miles can exchange anytime of the yr? I know they have block out dates esp those student holidays. no idea if during peak season does SQ increase the number of miles needed to redeem tickets.
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