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Bank Transfer or Personal Check

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Hello everyone,

As I will moving from Europe in a couple of weeks to the US, I am dealing with last-minute issues/questions.

I have on my checkings account in Europe a certain amount (already converted) in USD. This amount is for me to help settling in the US. My question is a follows: which is the easiest, fastest and cheapest (might be different answers):

- a personal check written in USD by my European bank on my USD funds to be cashed in at arrival (do the banks in the US take a high fee on those? is the cash-in immediate when I open my bank account in the US,... ?)

- a wire transfer in USD from my European bank to my newly opened US account (once it is opened) (is the fee taken by the banks in the US high? how many days does it take to process, ...?)

Thank you all for your advice & help on this.

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The unhelpful answer is it depends on the bank and it depends on the amount of money.

General rules of thumb - once a check is deposited, it takes 3 business days for it to clear, then you have access to the money. Money deposited in the form of cash is available immediately. Wire transfers, unless you are depositing more than 50,000 are generally speaking, not worth the fees.

You are probably best off opening the account with some money in dollar bill form that will definitely get you through the 3 business day waiting period (i.e. deposit $500 in cash and the rest in check).

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Hi Cardnav,

Thanks for your quick reply. I might for the check then although I believe that the fees are not that small either :-/

Just want to be sure that once the check is deposited, I don't have to wait forever to have the money cleared... the check will already be in USD and on my future US's bank name. Moreover, will they clear/deposit the full amount or keep some fee money to themselves. Actually, I have done wire transfers in the past so I know the fees (which are big as you mentioned) but never used checks before (not very common in my country).


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With a wire transfer there will be several deductions depending on the route the funds take to your account. The bank of your home country may charge a flat rate, then intermediary banks will charge a handling fee too (maybe $25 per intermediary?). The nice thing is the transfer can happen within a matter of hours once it reaches the Fedwire system.

You might investigate any ForEx (foreign exchange) operators in your home country, as these usually give you a better dollar rate than your bank.

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