Heads up! Opening Charles Schwab account abroad

I recently opened a Charles Schwab checking account because I’m sick of paying ATM fees abroad (been about 5 years now so it adds up). I did this online while I was in India. Everything went off fine opening the account online until a week or so later when I received a letter saying my account needed to be verified. No problem I thought, call the people up and answer a few questions. Wrong! Since I opened my account from a non-US IP, my SSN had been flagged. This requires in person verification! There is no way around this now. I asked if I VPN’d with a US IP and tried to open a new account would it work. The CSR said no, my SSN is now flagged and the only way for me to get an account at Charles Schwab is to go branch and verify my identify in person.

So this is word of warning for any US people opening bank accounts while abroad. I suggest you VPN to get a US IP when opening any account. Probably with a less well known VPN as well.

Good luck out there!

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Thanks for the heads up, been a long time schwab user without issues. Don’t they have branch offices everywhere to make that easier? What country are you now in, or will you need to go back to India for a branch office for verification?

Same thing happened to me, I tried opening an account online while I was in Bangkok. Account was flagged and I had to wait until I got back into the US to verify and get the account working.

Can you apply for a prepaid travel card to save on ATM fees? For example Revolut only wanted a scan of my drivers licence card (UK) and selfie, all done from the app.

I tried to apply from abroad too and they didn’t say anything like that when they told me to call for verification. I thought that the problem was that my address had been flagged as a mailing service (despite not being a PO box) and they were asking for a residential address. When I said I was “studying abroad” at the moment, they recommended I ask a family member to put my name on their utility bill and send them a copy as verification. NOT possible, so I just never followed up. :frowning: So sad to loose that opportunity to get a CS account! Now I just carry cash but that is so sketchy.

there are other banks besides CS that you can use which work well internationally.

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Any recommendations? I really only considered CS since I was sick of paying ATM fees on USD withdrawals.

My local credit union has a no foreign transaction fee credit card and 1% foreign transaction fee (quite reasonable compared to some large banks) on ATM/point-of-sale debit use. It might be that other credit unions offer similar deals.

Just did a bit of searching to see what prepaid debit/mastercards are available to Americans and the choice is very poor, Europeans are really embracing the innovations in Fintech with the likes of WeSwap/Revolut/N26. Who do you currently bank with that has these ATM fees? Where are you currently based?

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You could try looking into a Fidelity Cash Management account. It is similar to Charles Schwab in that they reimburse ATM fees. Also no monthly fees, no minimum balance, free checkwriting, mobile deposits, etc… I have an account. Works great in my travels, but I added it to my brokerage and IRA accounts, so in my case, I was already a Fidelity customer.

For new customers, they have an online application process as well. I am not sure what sort of verification they will require so it may or may not work if you also had issues with Charles Schwab. I am assuming you’ll need a legal state-side address to call home at least. And as mentioned by ahawkins, probably a good idea too to VPN with a state-side IP address if you can.

Just a heads up on Fidelity - unless I’m missing something they still charge a Foreign Transaction fee of 1% on all withdrawals.

“Please note, there is a foreign transaction fee of one percent that is not waived, which will be included in the amount charged to your account.”


Cap 1 360 has no ATM fees and no conversion fees. The exchange rate is pretty much what I see on xe.com

@leerosen Fidelity charges foreign exchange fees only on purchases, and not on ATM withdrawals. (http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1385007/)

I hope you’re right and that the Fidelity ATM page providing otherwise is incorrect.