Paying rent in cash

Saves on the wire fee. Both incoming and outgoing. Maybe not a substantial savings depending on what you’re doing, but I personally love my Schwab card since it literally costs ZERO dollars to transact.

Note: The first 1.5 years that I had the card I figured I was costing Schwab money because I only moved money into my checking account purely to withdraw at ATMs around the world, and they had reimbursed me approximately $300 in fees. (When you sign up for the card you’re required to open a checking account and an investment account, but both can have 0 balance with no penalty) But then, I needed to move a large sum of money into a new investment account and I thought, why not put it into my existing Schwab . And then, they acquired/merged with TD Ameritrade and suddenly I had two investment accounts with them. Then I realized, this is why they do it lol. They spent $300 over 1.5 years, but they eventually acquired a decent-sized investor client.

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A few reasons…transaction fees and speed, and on top of that I bring less than half my income actually into Taiwan, since I use a U.S. credit card with no foreign transaction fee wherever I can (Apple Pay is pretty widely accepted now) so those payments are coming out of my US account, and then I have quarterly (self-employment) tax payments, investments, online services, I travel every few months, etc. Spending an extra minute in 7-11 a couple times a month is not a big deal, and my notorious Schwab card is actually better than my Taiwanese bank card here since I don’t have to hunt for specific ATMs to avoid fees.

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Some banks like HSBC don’t have a wire fee. Mostly like you I withdraw cash from an overseas account. Sometimes I do a wire transfer as I don’t want to do 10 withdrawals at 20k each to pay some living costs.

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Do you know which banks offer free transfers from a US bank? Which do you use?

In the US, Fidelity also offers reimbursement of ATM fees and free international wire in USD. However, there will be fees imposed by local banks for receiving the funds.

Also be aware that some cards with “free” ATM usage might make you pay a (hidden) fee by charging bank-specific exchange rates (which might be worse than exchange rates offered by banks in Taiwan).

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If you cant withdraw that much, talk to your bank. it’s easy to get a 60, 100, 150k/day limit. their limits are based on how rampant fraud is here, an effort to protect I think is more or less the accepted line. Not sure how open they want to be about admitting the bank doesnt want to lose physical stores, as most countries dont. But the fraud thing is a legitimate enough excuse to be fair.

cash is fine. one thing I have done when paying cash for rent is always have the rental contract signed at payment, to provide a record of payment. All rental contracts should have a page or 2 for this exact record keeping.

if not, ATM/bank transfers are ideal as they provide official documentation that xx dollars transferred from XX person to XX person. if there is ever a dispute in the future, the landlord cannot claim you never paid rent on a given month (there is some kind of reputation of landlords in taiwan being less than ideal human beings). Good to keep records, makes problems disappear quickly, with less stress.

I’m not aware of any US banks that offer free international wires but I can’t say I have a lot of experience. Another poster mentioned HSBC but I would not qualify for their US checking account unless I moved over my investments and I don’t want to do that. It looks like Schwab charges $15 for outgoing transfers if submitted online. They do reimburse all ATM fees without limit. When I compare what they deduct in USD from my account when I withdraw TWD with the exchange rate according to Google there’s around a 0.5% spread, which I think is pretty good, but I’m small time, not claiming financial expertise here.

Some ATMs will ask whether you want to use their exchange rate - don’t do that, it’s always worse, speaking from a U.S. perspective here. Same applies if you use a foreign credit card, some systems will ask you whether you want to pay in TWD or their conversion into USD, choose TWD and let Visa/whoever handle the conversion.

E.SUN has about 0.1% spread for USD (when using the app / website):

If you transfer larger amounts of money, the fee for the wire transfer will be less than the spread / fee of the currency conversion of your card.

Yes, I am sure there is a point where if you’re transferring large enough sums of money it’s worth it, and it would also be annoying to have to make so many trips to the ATM to withdraw $100k TWD every month. Personally I don’t have such high cash expenses here to make it worth doing it monthly, and I only keep enough cash in my US checking account for turnover, which includes covering necessary payments in the US, so I would have to move money out of my HYSA to transfer enough to justify it.

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Yeah - for me it would be especially bad during tax season to get all the required money from an ATM. But not sure how this works for US people in terms of double-taxation etc.

I am probably going to withdraw some cash later today so if I do I will show the actual math here instead of just guesstimating in my head. I see some posts on Reddit where people insist Schwab doesn’t charge any fee and it’s just the Visa exchange rate, which is 1 USD = 32.176 TWD right now, slightly better than what Google shows, 32.14 (better if your money is in USD that is).

Not sure about the quality of their calculation, but there seems to be a premium built into the Visa rate:

Visa is on average 0.30% more expensive than the mid-market rate, while Mastercard averages 0.21% above mid-market.

Also one can check what banks offer for exchange rates… just log onto credit card app
One should be aware that selling US$ and buying US$ rate is different.

A Charles Schwab checking account seems almost too good with reimbursing all ATM fees and having no foreign transaction fees for a checking account with no minimum/fees… is there any notable catch?

Nope. Like Max said, you need a social security number and proof of US residency, which is not something most non-Americans have. This may have not been true at some point in the past, but it is now, which makes this card unavailable for most non-Americans.

https://international.schwab.com/open-account-intro

Okay! I used a Taishin Bank ATM for this test, I don’t think it matters but worth mentioning. I withdrew $20k TWD using my Schwab debit card + the $100 ATM fee (which will be refunded later) for a total cost of $20,100 TWD, and Schwab debited $625.27 USD from my account.

Google 625.27 USD to TWD = 20,090.86

The current BOT spot buy rate is 32.055.

625.27 x 32.055 = 20,043.03

Best rate posted in this thread is E Sun at 32.155

625.27 x 32.155 = 20,105.56

So your circumstances may vary but it looks like this is a good choice to bring your money over as an American who is receiving wages in the US, which is the context from the original thread that is missing here. I am not a banker (or mathematician) so comments welcome. By the way if I had accepted Taishin’s offered conversion rate it would’ve cost me an extra $30 USD…

The catch is Schwab doesn’t have any physical bank locations or its own ATMs so no cash deposits, or any notable credit card/loan/mortgage/savings account offerings. They don’t really market the checking account and I think most people approach them first as a brokerage, which is where they make their money.

No wire fees and high limits for daily transfers something like $250K USD. I havent stepped foot in bank in ages, but the exchange rate is slightly lower than the spot rate so that is your fee. I still struggle with how much money to keep in USD vs NTD.

You know that many banks in Taiwan don’t charge an ATM fee anyway, right? Cathay for example. I’ve never paid one in my 7 years here, despite mostly withdrawing from my foreign cards.

Yeah, you should never choose the DCC option. It’s always a ripoff.