Getting Access to Your Cash Whilst Living Abroad

If you are living and working abroad for longer than a few weeks then you will probably need to get regular access to your cash. Living in a different country to the one you are earning in does bring with it a few challenges when it comes to accessing your funds, but luckily it is easy enough to arrange.

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins © by

Here are some of the most common ways to get access to your cash from abroad.

Debit & Credit Cards

The quickest and most convenient way to get access to your cash from another country is to use an ATM. Take a few debit and credit cards with you (in case you lose your main one), and you should be able to withdraw money from your UK bank account wherever you need to.

The problem with cards is that: Most cards add a fee each time you withdraw cash, which can be quite high, especially with some credit cards. You are often restricted in the amount you can withdraw in one go, meaning you may have to make a number of trips to the ATM. You may want to try out a special fee-saving card like the one provided by FairFx (use voucher code u60qh to claim a £2.50 credit). With this card you can transfer money from your bank account to your card and it does not charge you fees for withdrawing money.

One thing to remember is that if you are accessing online banking from abroad, just be careful because some banks now require you to have a security device to access your accounts. Lose this and you lose access to your online banking!

Western Union

Services such as Western Union and MoneyGram can be useful if you need to get your hands on some cash quickly.

If you have any contacts back home then you can arrange for them to send you the money which you can then pick up from any WU branch.

The fees are typically higher than using an ATM, but it may be more convenient for larger amounts of money. This could also be a good option if you don’t have access to any funds yourself and you want someone back home to help you out, perhaps in an emergency.

Another advantage is that you can sometimes withdraw the money in dollars rather than the local currency, although this may differ depending on your location.

Bank Transfer

Transferring money from your home bank account to your foreign bank account generally comes with a few difficulties.

It can be quite expensive, with fees sometimes charged by both the sending and receiving banks, and there may be a number of restrictions imposed by your foreign bank account depending upon where you are living. The country you are living in may also have lots of restrictions, and you may find yourself having to travel to an office and sign lots of forms to get access to your own money, which can delay the whole process.

For this reason it may be better to only consider this option for larger transfers such as if you are buying a property abroad.

Currency Broker

An alternative to a bank transfer when getting access to larger amounts is to use the services of a specialist currency broker. These often provide better exchange rates than banks, and their fees may also be more reasonable.

You will have to research various brokers to find the best deal on the day, and remember to compare them by their exchange rates at the same time because these constantly change. A good starting point is

One option you may want to consider if you are from the UK is the Post Office. This claims to provide free money transfers from a UK bank account to a foreign account, and even pays the fee if your bank charges you for the transaction.

Find the Best Way to Access Your Money

Getting access to your funds abroad is always going to be more complicated than when you are living in the same country as you are earning. However, there are a range of options to choose from, so it is a good idea to look into the above possibilities before you leave home so that you aware of your options when living and working abroad.

Have you signed up as a member of LWA yet? Keep up to date with our favourite resources for starting a new life abroad. 

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