Sadly, the loans are winning this battle. However, I have found a way to combat the Goliath that has beating down this poor, little David of a Dani. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pay my US student loans AND live an expat life for a while.
Right now, I have a checking account with Bank of America. Each month while I was in Indonesia, I was charged $12 to receive my direct deposit paycheck, plus over $400 in ATM fees to access that money. I was asked how I intended to pay for my student loans while overseas, this time in Korea, starting in February 2011. I’ve called all of my loan carriers, and they all said one thing immediately: “You need to have a US checking account number.” From what I’ve heard from friends who are already overseas, there is a long process of receiving their direct deposit/cash salary, getting it exchanged, then wiring it overseas back home to Mom and Dad to deal with. I’d like to be a bit more independent. I’m not a big fan of relying on other people. Anyway.
After perusing the internet for blogs and whatnot on how to actually pay for things while you’re not around without having to give up your first born, I found NOTHING. I emailed a few people, then I got a suggestion from a friend to look into Citibank. “They do have a bunch of offices in Asia, maybe they’ll work like a local bank there.” Well, I went onto the website and started a chat with a Citi customer service rep. So helpful! Turns out, they are a major banking company in South Korea, as well as many other places in Asia, and you can own both a local (international) account and a US checking account. Then, the best part. You can transfer money from one account to the other for only $10 USD. That’s less than only the receiving fees from Bank of America. There is a minor maintenance fee, but there really is anywhere you go, I’d rather pay the fees than deal with Bank of America and their crappy customer service skills. From the initial sounds of it, this might be our winner for the battle vs. my student loans.
I will definitely keep you all updated as the process speeds up and I actually get to Korea and get my ducks in a row.