Marlene embarked on a year-long travel journey. Along the way, she learned a few tips she enjoys sharing with other travelers.
Sending and receiving money can be an arduous endeavor. Banking transactions can be difficult unless you plan how you are going to handle your banking activities ahead of time. Here are some suggestions.
Get A Bank Account Before Going On The Trip
Before you embark on a trip where you will need to do any kind of banking, go to a bank and establish a checking account from which you can make payments and receive payments. It is important as a traveler that you set up an account with a national bank with branches in the areas where you plan to travel.
I learned this bit of advice the hard way. I live in northern California and was traveling for a couple of weeks in southern California. I had a check that I had planned on cashing once I got settled in southern California, but I soon discovered that my regular bank did not have a branch located in southern California. The check was written from the same bank as my bank, however, since I did not have a local address in southern California, none of the other banks would cash the check. I now have a checking account at a bank that is nationwide which has made it easy to handle banking activities wherever I travel.
Receiving Paper Checks
I am an independent entrepreneur who works from home. I also travel a lot and when I am traveling, home is wherever I reside at that particular time. I have clients who pay me to write articles and blogs for them. When I am at my main residence (not traveling), sending and receiving money is easy, however, when I am traveling, dealing with money becomes a challenge. In particular, receiving paper checks is the biggest challenge of all.
I have one client who will only pay with a written check, so when I am traveling, receiving a paper check poses the question of how I am going to receive the check to cash it.
When you are traveling and need to receive checks in the mail, there are several options that allow you to receive your check no matter where you are.
Have the Check Sent to a Mail Handling Service
A mail handling service will receive your mail and then forward your mail to an address that you give them. Or, you can pick up your mail in person from the mail handling service location.
Have the Check Sent to the Post Office General Delivery
The post office will receive mail on your behalf. You must tell your mailer to use the “General Delivery” address format in order for you to receive mail at a post office just about anywhere in the United States. You can then pick up your mail from the post office or have the post office forward the mail to you for a fee.
In my article titled “How Do Travelers Get Mail?” I show travelers how to properly address General Delivery mail and other tips to help travelers receive mail while they are away from home.
Check by Mail
If someone must send you a paper check and you don’t have an address to give them, then you may have the option of obtaining a “Check by Mail” service where you give payers your bank’s address. The payer sends the check to your bank. The bank receives the check and digitally processes the money into your account. Talk to your bank account representative to see if your bank has this convenient service.
Cashing or Depositing Paper Checks
Cashing or depositing paper checks is a real challenge when you are traveling. Here is a solution that may help you get your paper check cashed or deposited.
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Go to the Bank
For the least amount of trouble, when you need to cash a check, be selective about the bank you choose. First, look to see the name of the bank upon which the check is written and then go to THAT bank to cash the check. Then, if you also want to deposit the cash, take the cash to a local branch of the bank where you have an established account in your hometown. For obvious reasons, this method is quite risky. You could lose the money along the way, or heaven forbid you could get robbed while going from one bank to another.
Sending and Receiving Digital Money
Go paperless and become a digital traveler. Use apps and today’s digital solutions to pay bills, process checks, send money, and receive money online. You may never have to step inside a bank again.
Get a Digital App
Without a digital solution, you may have to wait until you are home before cashing your check. Here is one solution that works very well. Some banks have an app that allows you to take a photo of your paper check and then digitally deposit the check into your bank account.
The app walks you through the process of snapping a photo of the front and back of the check and immediately the check is posted to your account.
I deposit digital checks even when I am not traveling. It saves time and money spent on gas driving to and from the bank.
To deposit checks digitally, you will need a smartphone, an app, and of course a Wi-Fi connection. If you are not knowledgeable in digital technology, your bank representative can help you set up the app and process your checks.
If a company has an address where you can send a check, you can pay them online. Utility companies, cell phone providers, medical providers, insurance providers—essentially anyone with an address can be paid through an online bill-paying service. Contact your bank to see if they offer an online bill-paying service.
It works like this: some banks allow you to go online and set up automatic or one-time payments to anyone or any company where they can write out a check from your account and then mail it to the person or company on your behalf. Contact your bank representative about fees for this type of service. My bank offers this service free of charge. It is fast, easy, and convenient. As long as you have an internet connection, you can make payments while you are traveling.
As much as possible, I operate in a digital world. My major clients deposit money directly into my PayPal account. My PayPal account is linked directly to my bank account. I can go into my PayPal account and easily transfer funds from my PayPal account to my bank account.
PayPal makes it easy to digitally receive payments. Go to PayPal.com and set up an account. PayPal will walk you through the process of setting up your PayPal account and linking it to the bank account of your choice.
The best part about PayPal is that many companies allow you to use PayPal to make payments to them. So, for instance, if you do online shopping, you can pay many merchants using your PayPal account.
MoneyGram allows you to send money to bank accounts and mobile accounts. Pay bills and send money to individuals throughout the United States and some countries outside of the United States. Money transfers can be completed digitally using your Visa, MasterCard, or United States checking account. If you have cash, you can transfer money at one of the many kiosks located around the world. There is a fee to transfer money and you can see an estimate of the fee prior to accepting and completing the transaction.
With locations all across the United States and many countries around the world, Western Union allows you to send and receive money through digital, mobile, and retail channels. Western Union charges a fee to transfer money and just as with MoneyGram, you will be able to see the amount of the fee before accepting and completing the transaction.
Zelle is a service that some banks offer free of charge for customers who have established a bank account with them. Zelle allows you to send money to recipients who have eligible checking or savings accounts at any United States financial institution. Use your email address or mobile number to send and receive money.
There are daily limits, so check with your bank to see what the limits are. Be aware that although there may not be a fee for this service (verify with your bank about any fees they may charge) when you use Zelle on a mobile device, your mobile carrier’s message and data rates may apply.
Send Money, Receive Money, and Travel Stress Free
Knowing how to send and receive money while traveling makes traveling a little less stressful. No matter where you travel, you can rest peacefully knowing you will be able to pay bills and maintain all of your money business with ease. Just as you plan your travel adventures, planning your banking activities can save you time and trouble.
© 2018 Marlene Bertrand