Lessons from Brazil – Foreign bank fees

Brazil

Citibank US steals R$50/month from my account here in Brazil, while Brazilian ATMs steal an additional R$40 per month. I really wish there were another way for me to get paid from the US without dealing with these fees. Here’s a rundown:

Citibank
- R$20 monthly service charge just for having the account.
- R$30 in monthly withdrawal fees for using “Non-Citi ATMs”***

Brazilian ATMs
- R$40 in individual withdrawal fees

US

Being American, I usually just pay the monthly service charge, currently at US$10, which I consider a rip-off also. With no difference in service, it went from US$3 to US$10, just because they can.

*** – Btw, even if I use a Brazilian Citibank ATM here, I still get charged the two fees (one by Citibank Brasil and the other by Citibank US)

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7 thoughts on “Lessons from Brazil – Foreign bank fees

  1. Sounds like you need to change bank (probably in both countries)! I’m with Banco do Brasil which obviously has a wide ATM network to avoid such fees but useless at international exchange transaction/importing money. I’m currently moving to HSBC which has less ATMs but very good at international business. But of course here in Brasil, you either need prooof of (lots of) income or a hell of a lot of patience to get anyone to open an account for you. Good luck!

  2. Thanks. Yeah, this is the issue. I can’t open an account with any normal Brazilian banks, only with Panamericano which doesn’t allow for int’l transfers nor for inter-bank deposits. Even with PayPal, there’s the transfer fee plus once deposited into my Citi, there’s the Citi fee(s).

  3. Tom – BB allows for internet Western Union wires and I have found their SWIFT transfer fees to be compatible with the other banks.

    I use a credit union as my main bank here in Brazil – no monthly fees, a R$130 bonus if I have my salary direct deposited in my account and dividends. Unfortunately, not an option for most expats, but I was glad too see that they exist in Brazil. The only way to get around fees is to have more money in the bank, then the fees get lower or non-existent.

  4. In the US, I opened a checking and savings account with Capital One Bank. They reimburse ATM withdrawal fees from any ATM up to 10 per month. I usually only withdraw money once a week, so it works out. Thus, even if you withdraw money from BdB, Citibank, HSBC, etc., Capital One reimburses those fees. Caveat, they only reimburse fees when the money is withdrawn from the checking account and not the savings account. I don’t know why, but that is the way it is.

  5. Many banks charge half or less in monthly maintenance fees for student checking accounts, and once the enroll the account holder as a student they may never request proof again that the account holder remains a student. There is no particular disadvantage to having a student account that I am aware of.

    In addition, I am told that HSBC currently doesn’t charge any monthly fee at all for checking account holders who are retired.

    These are two limited ways to avoid all or higher monthly fees.

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