I've been blessed by the chance to be admitted to an MBA. Along with all the visa paperwork, I would need to transfer my cash to the US in order to ease the pressure on the student loan.
I thought it'd be great to have feedback from other international students on their thoughts on the different options to transfer cash, such as travellers cheques, wire transfer, western union, or simply carrying all the cash in the plane :D
Also interesting on what you think on each option concerning their safety/easiness/cost-efficiency.
So here is an overview of options:1. Wire Transfer
is the way to go unless your country's government has an interesting limitation of some sorts that prevents you from being able to wire the money. In case you want to use the Wire Transfer, you may want to allow one of your trusted family members to wire the money to you AFTER you are in the US and open a bank account there.
most banks will wire for a small nominal fee (there is often a receiving fee as well). These range from $15 to about 150 for a large transfer (most of the US receiving fees are around $15). Check with your local bank just in case it charges a percentage fee instead of a flat fee. Having a person with access to your account (to deposit and send money) will help with the process over the following years as you may need additional funds. I have never faced with any inquiries or questions from banks/financial institutions even when transferring large amounts.
Other methods of transporting money are not as effective ...2. Fly Cash In.
You can bring in only $10K into the US and I would not recommend exceeding that amount (though chances of you getting caught are super small). Bottom line: officially you are limited to $10K of cash or money-instruments such as gold or traveler's checks. Additional limitation is that when you try to deposit cash into your US bank account in ONE time, the bank is required to fill out a Currency Transaction Report and you will get flagged and questions will be asked as to how you go the money and where from (this is to prevent money laundering). Since most schools will not take cash, you will have to this in some way. By the way, If you have more than $10,000 in your account and transfer it into another account or write a check for that amount, then nothing will be reported. The key is one time, so you can stretch it out or deposit into multiple accounts in case you decide to bring over $10K in cash.3. Pay Directly to the University:
Similar to option #1 - it is a wire transfer or a credit card transaction but it may be easier done from your country of residence than just sending $50K in a wire transfer. Your family/work/etc can pay the school directly. 4. Western Union
is OK but it maxes out at about $2,500 (they have lowered their fees recently, so it is not a bad way to get money but it is a hassle). To give you an example, to send from the US to another country using the 3-day economy option is about $30. The instant transfer is closer to $200 for that amount. Moneygram is another option but it has an even loser limit of $899 per transfer per day... kind of useless when you need to move $20-40K5. Traveler's Checks
are OK too but they are a hassle and again, are considered a money instrument, thus the same $10K rule at the border applies.6. ATM Card:
You can just access your money via an ATM (which works for day to day stuff) but you will have to pay fees, which will be around 1-2% depending on your home bank and you can only withdraw $400-600 at a time (depending on your banks policies and ATM limitations). If you are considering this route, a better option is to withdraw money at a bank instead of the ATM - they will let you take out a pretty large amount from your home country's ATM card for a nominal fee as long as you have a bank account with them.
Bottom line - Wire Transfer is the best option.
Hope this helps
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