We have found that it isn’t a simple process to move money internationally, but we have found a few tricks along the way that you can consider.
First, banks frequently charge fees for international ATM transactions. However, in many parts of Italy, and in many ways, Italy is still a cash economy. This can quickly become expensive if you are trying to withdraw significant sums of money. As a result, we make these recommendations:
Banking in the US
Sign up for one or more Charles Schwab investment brokerage accounts and you can open a bank account to go along with each one. Note that you should use a US-based address, not an overseas address, for this account. The primary advantage of this is that Schwab bank accounts provide rebates on all ATM fees worldwide. You will need to set a travel notice on your account, but you can call Schwab toll-free from Italy at 800 797 122.
Transferring money between the US and Europe
We have had good results to date with Transferwise. It gives you a bank account that works in the US and a bank account that works in Europe. This allows you to transfer money electronically and convert it between dollars and euros for very small fees. For example, we recently transferred $500 for about $.62 as opposed to sending a wire transfer for a typical international wire transfer fee of $35.
Banking in Italy
Most banks in Italy charge a relatively small monthly fee to keep the account open. Depending on how you decide to move money around, you may or may not need to use a bank account, but it is a good idea to have one open should you have the need to receive or send money from an Italian bank account.
ING Bank offers a free checking account that has had good results with decent service. It allows you to make payments that you need to make or receive payments as required.