Itís Your Money > Banking

What's all the hype about a Charles Schwab account?

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Art, just a re(tired) Fil-Am:
I was just browsing around on their website above link just to check it out.
Here it says:
Before you start, be sure to have this information with you for each applicant:
* U.S. permanent resident address
* Social Security number or Tax ID
*Driver's license number, state, and expiration date
*Employer's name and mailing address (if you have an employer)
*If you are not a U.S. resident, visit our Global site

I'm not a U.S. permanent resident and or have a U.S. permanent address. I don't even have a U.S. driver license.
So, it may be difficult for me to apply for a Charles Schwab account.
I also noticed, they now do not deal or issue credit cards, but just ATM debit cards with a Visa Logo, which one has to have a linked Brokerage Account even with an ATM O balance in the account and they can not really say what the foreign conversion fee rates are or if any at all.
And they charge a $25 fee for international money wire transfers. So, there's no avoiding fees for money wire transfers!

It seems that we're still better off just doing what we've been doing all there years in the Philippines and just write out our U.S. personal checks for deposit into our RP local bank's USD account, no fees no nothing for deposit, but just to wait 25 days for our check to clear and post into our RP local bank's USD account. I really do not find any advantages to having a Charles Schwab account, unless someone can convince me otherwise.
Also some with HSBC accounts, swears by them, that it's the best banking system for expats, but that's another topic on it's own!     

The ATM card is very useful when I travel.  Otherwise, the USD check deposit method for obtaining funds in the Phl is fine.

I have a U.S. Fidelity account but I still use a U.S. address on that account.  I have an ATM card that reimburses all ATM fees.  (The exchange rate I get is slightly better, but insignificantly so, than the exchange rate I get changing USD to pesos at BPI.)  You cannot open a U.S. Fidelity account without a U.S. address.  The same as Schwab.  At Fidelity you can open an international account if you live outside the U.S. but you don't get an ATM card and you cannot buy U.S. mutual funds.

I just opened a checking account with Schwab. From what I heard, they give good exchange rate when using their debit card, they will reimburse ATM fees. 

Of you don't have a US addy, or can't access one it won't work for you. I do and it does. I like the fact I can access money immediately, not 25 days from now. So far they have refunded all bank charge fees, no fee for "foreign" transactions and whatever the exchange rate between banks is at the moment of the transaction is what you get.

I was told recently that they swamp you with snail mail after opening the account, is that true? and if true, does the heavy mail continue on? I tried to open an account with CS about a year ago by walking into one of their offices but they refused to use a po box for a mailing address, I already have a Fidelity account which also works when in the Philippines and also reimburses all fees and when I used the atm card at HSBC (since it has a Visa logo on it) there were no fees and I was able to take out p40,000 at one shot, so does the Charles Schwab atm card also have a visa logo on it? and if so, then you guys might wish to try it at HSBC (if available to you), to be able to withdraw the larger amount at one time.


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