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I am considering relocating back the USA and am looking for an efficient means to transfer our savings to a US bank. From my initial research the simple answer seems to be wire transfer for large sums. However, I am currently in Israel and the banks here pile on a lot of extra fees. So I would like to avoid as much of that as possible. Does anyone have experience with this or best practices advice?

Thank you!

  • Are there branches of US based financial institutions in Israel? – quid Jan 1 '15 at 17:13
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    I am not aware of US Banks in Israel but there are Israeli Banks with US branches, such as Bank Leumi. – Toaster Jan 1 '15 at 19:38
  • A quick google search came up with Citi bank – quid Jan 1 '15 at 22:14
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    @quid Citi doesn't really provide retail services in Israel, only wealth management. In any case, the fact that it is a US-bank subsidiary helps nothing. As the OP said, Israeli banks have presence in the US just as well, but it doesn't really matter when considering the international transfers. – littleadv Jan 1 '15 at 22:45
  • @littleadv It mattered for me when I was in Japan... – quid Jan 2 '15 at 17:30
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Check with stock brokers. Some of them will offer ILS->USD conversion at a very beneficial rate (very close to the official), without any commission, and flat-priced wire transfers. For large amounts this is perfect. I know for a fact that Gaon Trade used to do that ($15 for a wire transfer of any amount), but they are now defunct... Check with Meitav (their successor) and others if they still do these things.

If you're talking about relatively small amounts (up to several thousands $$$) - you may be better off withdrawing cash or using your credit card in the US. For mid range (up to $50K give or take, depending on your shopping and bargaining skills) banks may be cheaper.

A quick note about what jamesqf has mentioned in his answer... You probably don't want to tell your banker that you're moving to the US. Some people reported banks freezing their accounts and demanding US tax info to unfreeze, something that you're not required to provide according to the Israeli law. So just don't tell them. In the US you'll need to report your Israeli bank/trading/pension/educational/savings/insurance accounts on FBAR and FATCA forms when you're doing your taxes.

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How much are we talking about here? My own experience (Switzerland->US, under $10K) was that the easiest way was just $100 bills. Alternatively, I just left a bunch in the Swiss bank, and used my ATM card to make withdrawals when needed. That worked for several years (I was doing contract work remotely for the Swiss employer, who paid into that account), until the bank had issues with the IRS (unrelated to me!) and couriered me a check for the balance.

  • Cash wouldn't be practical in this situation, also to he exchange rate and commissions are a major factor. – Toaster Jan 2 '15 at 10:32

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