$5 + 3%, that’s what my bank charged me every time I withdrew money from an ATM overseas. I had long come to grudgingly accept the loss, simply for lack of alternatives.
When travelling in Myanmar, another traveller told me about number26, a Germany based online bank. They don’t charge for overseas withdrawals and payments, making them a great tool for nomads and travellers. They are not the first to do that, other banks like ComDirect have similar offers, although with a couple more catches.
Still, there was one problem remaining to be solved: A considerable part of my money sits in a non-German bank account and if I wanted to wire transfer the money to Germany, I’d be losing a lot of money again. In the middle ages we could throw racketeers into the cesspit or put them on the pillory but these days…
Anyway, help came in the form of currencyfair and transferwise, both peer-to-peer powered international money transfer providers.
Peer-to-peer in this case means that when transferring money from lets say Australia to Germany, the money actually never leaves Australia. Instead, my Australian money arrives at another customer’s account in Australia, and in return the other customer’s money from Germany is deposited into my German account. Behind the scenes it’s certainly a little more complex but that’s the general idea.
So there it goes, bye-bye astronomical banking fees, hello happy days.