For a long time, I’ve been planning on moving some money from our bank account in the U.S. to Sweden. Last week’s turbulence on the stock market, and especially the imminent margin call caused by the big dip in my favourite investment – BlackPearl Resources – made me finally take action.
One of the lessons learned turned out to be a big minus to be added to my review of using an out-of-state rewards checking account at JD Bank: they will not let you wire money out of your account without physically being present at the bank. This forced me to instead write a check to myself, deposit it to my Wells Fargo account here, and wait for the money to become available. Now, if you look at the hike BlackPearl Resources’ stock price took today, you’ll understand why I am unhappy with the 3 day delay. $50/month in interest is nice, but was it worth the lost opportunity here?
As a result of some research earlier, I had already signed up for an account with Venstar Exchange, specializing in forex and moving money around. That process was straight forward and free, all that was needed was a registration form for individual clients and scanned copies of my passport and a utility bill showing my address. Venstar also asks for a credit card number – I chose not to provide at that time, but ended up calling them and providing the information this week before doing the transaction. This makes it possible to get a quote of the actual exchange rate before hand, and lock it. The credit card itself is not used under normal circumstances – only if one fails to provide the agreed funds during the settlement period and Venstar ends up losing money as a result (caused by variations in the interest rate).
This morning, when the money was finally available at my Wells Fargo account, I called the Venstar account specialist assigned to me and initiated the transaction. The information he needed was the amount in USD and the desired currency. He gave me a quote, and a few minutes later, I received instructions via e-mail regarding how to proceed. Thirty minutes later I was at the Wells Fargo branch and wired the agreed amount to Venstar’s account at Barclays in London. As a final step, I filled an online form with the beneficiary information, designating my investment account with Avanza Bank as the final destination for the money. Next time I need to send money to this account, I can reference the information I submitted today – it is kept on file by Venstar.
The main reason for going through all this instead of just wiring money from Wells Fargo to my Swedish bank account is the lousy exchange rate they provide.
1 USD in SEK:
Google: 6.5532 (reference)
Wells Fargo: 6.1881
Venstar charges no fees when the exchanged amount exceed $10,000, which it did today. The only fee I needed to pay was to Wells Fargo for wiring the money to Venstar in London, which ended up being $30.
To state the obvious: the more money you need to move, the more you’ll save by using Venstar instead of probably any traditional bank. With the amount of money that was exchanged today, choosing Venstar instead of Wells Fargo ended up saving me very close to $1,000.