This question has several parts, but the underlying story is the following: I currently live in the US, I am moving to Europe (specifically, France) in a couple of months, for at least two years. I may or may not come back to the US (I work in the academia), I have some savings in the US in a regular bank account. I am not a US citizen, my visa expires in three months, and I am trying to maximize the benefit/minimize the costs of either moving or spending the money that I have here over there.
Now: I do not want to move the money in cash since I have to go first to my country of origin for visa issues, the amount has to be declared, and the taxes/cost of transfers over there make this an unwise option.
Now the questions:
- On average, are the bank's currency exchanges in the US competitive compared to the rates that I could get in, in this case, France? My bank is PNC (for what it might help), and I am considering to just spend my US money via withdrawals over there. The bank's fee seems pretty low but I am afraid that they might hit me with a bad currency exchange. For some reason the representatives that I talk to are not capable to inform me where to find the exchange rate they use, so I can't compare with local sources (in France). What would you say? (if you have some experience, not speculation please).
- Can my condition of alien create a problem? As I told before, I am an alien and my visa expires in three months. Can there be legal problems in the future if I keep money/use debit cards overseas while not being legally subject to US taxation? Or am I actually so, even with a expired visa and living overseas?
What about the credit card option? I have been considering to apply for a credit card (I do not have one, though PNC's debit card works as a Visa for all the practical purposes that I know of) to make purchases over there and make the payments with my US money. Again, I wonder about the currency exchange. Is it better than withdrawals, is it comparable to local exchange of currency?
And moving money directly between bank accounts?...Although somewhat difficult, I can try to open a bank account in France before traveling over there, and then move my money via a direct transfer. Are these kind of transactions at least comparable in cost to cashing dollars for euros over there? (ignoring the transaction fee). Do you know where can I find out?
I think this is it, but above all, I would really appreciate any advice from people that have been in my situation: what did you do? did you find any unsuspected surprise? what should I not do? etc.
Thanks for your attention!