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CCL - Expats - MoneyIssues

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In the past getting cash from outside the country has been a major hassle necessitating wire transfers, traveler's checks, and large commissions. Today with ATMs being ubiquitous in all large cities and with credit card acceptance becoming more common by the day that struggle is mostly in the past. However, you do need to be aware that some banks and credit cards will charge you a pretty penny (up to 3-4% -- we were better with the wire transfers!) for the privilege of using said cards overseas... However, if you choose your card carefully (see below) then getting money at an ATM machine is almost always your best bet (even if you do a wire transfer of a very significant amount or even carry a significant amount on your person on the airplane you still have to change it into leke and the exchange rate you get through Visa is better -- even before any commissions and wire transfer fees -- it seems like ATM is always your best bet for getting $$$).

Here are some banks that charge very low fees or no fees for overseas/international transactions:

  • Credit Cards
    • Capital One Visa
      • This is hands down the best credit card currently existing for international use. Not only do they not charge a fee from CapitalOne, but they refund the 1% that Visa charges!
      • And on top of that their rewards program gives you 1% which you can use in airfare or merchandise, but you can also just get a check!
      • This is for credit card purchases (POS), not for ATM -- they will "get you" for a cash advance if you get money at an ATM
  • ATM Cards (research here: http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/cc/20050624b1.asp?bank=capone#chart)
    • Capital One Money Market
      • If you have a Money Market account with CapitalOne you can get a visa ATM card which allows up to 6 free transactions per month (it appears this limit on number of transactions has been removed?)
    • Commerce bank
      • No fees for international ATM use
    • IngDirect has an Orange Electric account which gives a MasterCard check card (NO LONGER RECOMMENDED - AVOID THEM!)
      • They charge no fees on international ATM transactions UPDATE June 5 2008 - they appear to be charging 2% for ATM access in foreign currency now
      • They DO charge for international POS transactions, so beware if you use it like a credit card
      • If you are interested in opening an Ing account contact me and I'll send you an invitation -- you'll get $25 and I'll get $10
        • I am no longer recommending IngDirect as they have changed their policy and now charge one of the HIGHER fees for international ATM access in comparison with other banks.

Banks in Albania

  • Tirana Bank
    • Accepts Visa
  • Rafaissen Bank
    • Accepts Visa or MasterCard
  • American Bank
    • Accepts ?
    • Note if you keep a 250,000 leke minimum this bank has the best interest rates in town for a non-time-deposit
  • ProCredit Bank
    • Accepts ?
    • These ATMs will give you either leke OR EUROS -- whoo-hoo!

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Fun Stuff & Recent Changes

The Center for Christian Leadership exists to serve the evangelical church of Albania. Have you used our library? Have you attended a conference recently? Have you read a book we've published? Do you know a leader who could benefit from some training? Have you made use of the information on our web-page? (Oh, that's what you're doing now!) In all these ways and many others we are here to serve you!

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