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Transferring money from Japan to the US 2008/8/14 10:46
Osaka City
Hello everyone,

In less than a week I'll be moving to Osaka where I'll be teaching for at least one year. I'll be paid monthly, with my check being deposited into a local bank account. As a new college graduate, however, I have a few student loans here in the US I'm going to need to take care of each month, so it is also necessary that I have the ability to pay those. Seeing as how I'm going to be paid in Japan, I don't know of any way to get funds into my current US bank other than via costly wire transfers.

I noticed that Citibank has several locations in and around Osaka, but wasn't sure exactly how these are affiliated with their US branches. I contacted Citibank to find out whether the branches were connected. I was told by the first person that although they are not connected (i.e. I'd have to open 2 accounts--one in the US, one in Japan), I will have the ability to do a CGT (Citi Global Transfer) to my US Citibank account from my Japanese Citibank account each month at no cost and could even do this transfer online (up to $1,000 per month). I called again just to make sure this was true, but was told by the next 2 reps I spoke with that Japan is actually excluded from their global transfer network, and that such transfers would thus be wire transfers and would run me about $30 a pop. Thus, it doesn't seem to matter whether I have an account with Citibank or not in Osaka, they're going to charge me to send money home.

My questions are:

1) Does anyone know of any way I could send funds to a US account each month in order to take care of my student loans without incurring such high fees? I know of Postal Savings, Lloyds, etc., but the fees seem to be pretty steep, especially considering I'll need to transfer funds probably once per month.

2) If I open a Citibank account in the US and find an ATM or Japanese branch in Osaka, can I make cash deposits to my US account (to avoid transfers)?

3) Does anyone know of any banks that have linked accounts both in the US and Japan (such as a Japanese bank operating in the States)?

4) I've read on other sites that some people were able to connect a JP bank account to a JP PayPal account and then add their US bank account to that same PayPal account so that they could transfer money between the 2 bank accounts at no cost. Does anyone have any information on this?

Thanks a lot.

by Keishi  

. 2008/8/14 12:15
If I open a Citibank account in the US and find an ATM or Japanese branch in Osaka, can I make cash deposits to my US account (to avoid transfers)?

Citibank Japan accounts and Citibank US accounts are not connected to each other, one is an account in one country, the other is a account in another country, you cannot deposit funds from a Japanese Citibank into a US Citibank, nor can you do it vice versa.

Does anyone know of any banks that have linked accounts both in the US and Japan (such as a Japanese bank operating in the States)?


Your best option that most foreigners in Japan recommend for wire transfers:

-lloyds japan, is your best option to transfer money, its flat rate of 2000yen (really can't beat that in Wire transfers).

by John rate this post as useful

Lloyds 2008/8/14 13:53
The problem with Lloyds is that in addition to the 2000 yen service charge, it's (from what I've read) routed through a bank in New York that charges roughly $10 and most local banks charge another $8 or so.

Has anyone gotten PayPal to work? I've read that some people were able to connect a JP PayPal account to both a JP bank and US bank account, allowing them to transfer money between the two without wire fees.

by Keishi rate this post as useful

Correct me if I'm wrong, but 2008/8/14 17:50
I think the total of 4,000 yen or so for wire transfer from Japanese bank to another bank in another coutnry seems to be the norm.

With PayPal, the difficulty is that on Japan side of PayPal, you can only link it to a credit card - so if you stay in Japan, you can get a credit card (that is linked to your bank in Japan), and sign up with PayPal to send money from your credit card-backed PayPal account to a US PayPal account, which can be linked to a US bank account.

Check out their conversion rates, though, it's quite awful if you let PayPal do the conversion. If I am paying (I'm in Japan) someone in the US, I leave it to my credit card company to do the conversion, that way I feel better.

And if you want to receive the money in the States (on the receiving end), I think there is a PayPal fee for being a "merchant" (account fee) and also for withdrawing the money, isn't there?

by AK rate this post as useful

. 2008/8/14 21:42
Or as I mentioned in another thread, you can always try to send "INTERNATIONAL POSTAL MONEY ORDER" via the mail.

Pretty much you can send up to 70,000 yen (I think) per money order, and it only costs about 500 yen (again I think) to get issued. There's a limit per money order, but no limit in the number of money orders you can issue.

It gets send through the regular mail (registered mail), and someone on the other end (maybe parents, friend or whatever) cashes the money order, then they can probably deposit it into your Home country bank account, and you could probably pay loans via online banking via your home institution.

I know it does take a lot of steps, eg you need someone at home to mail the money order to, then they need to cash it and deposit it for you. But thats probably the cheapest way (be it longest) way to go at it.

by John rate this post as useful

Use GoLloyds, least amounts of problems. 2008/8/15 09:01
I had the same problem when I first got to Japan, regarding banking. Since no one here could help me, I basically ran out of money and got screwed. Here's what I've been doing and it works with no problems.

Do NOT get a Citibank Japan account. You won't be able to transfer between Japan Citibank and USA Citibank without massive hassle, if at all. Japan Citibanks aren't all over the place either. Japan Citibank and USA Citibank are completely different financial entities. The people at the USA Citibank were either completely ignorant of how banking is conducted in Japan or they flat out lied to me.

Also, Japan Citibank requires a minimum 200000 yen, else you pay through the nose in monthly fees. Banking in Japan is byzantine at best, and in order to pay your rent and get your salary, a Japanese bank account will provide the least problems for you.

Do get a USA Citibank account. You can withdraw from USA Citibank at any Japan Citibank. The savings account (USA) has a low minimum option and the interest rate is good. The unlimited checking account is good too. And you can withdraw at just about any ATM in the USA.

I have a USA Citibank account and a Mizuho (Japan) account. Mizuho has ATMs all over the place. Also, my landlord has Mizuho, as most do, so you just transfer your rent money to the other account with no fees. You can use online banking on Mizuho if you know Japanese, but you can still pay bills at the convenience store too.

I use GoLloyds to transfer from Mizuho to Citibank. That's why they are here. It couldn't be easier. Like, my dog could do it. I do it at least once every two months, to pay loans and for the better USA interest rate. I don't think there is any limit to the amount either; I've transferred about 300000 a few times. And they have a website where you can monitor the exchange rate. When the rate went below 100 yen a few months ago, I basically drained my account and sent it over to the USA.

It costs 2000 yen to transfer regardless of amount, and then $10 is deducted from the USA bank account.

While this seems like a lot, I'd be surprised if any Japanese bank charges less, and the exchange rate with GoLloyds is probably the most reasonable you will find. You figure it costs around $30 to transfer, say $2000; that's only 1.5%.

Also, with GoLloyds, there is a minimum of paperwork. Like, the complete inverse of what you have to fill out with the Japanese account. When I asked about making transfers at my Japanese bank, the minimum fee was 8000 and the paperwork was voluminous. Japanese financial institutions are prohibitive, they aren't going to let their yen out of the country without a fight.

It takes me about 30 seconds to make a transfer to the USA account. I really don't think, once you get settled in and start working that you're going to want to juggle 3 or 4 accounts, or worry about postal orders, and all that.

by Dr Bob rate this post as useful

. 2008/8/15 11:48
Wow. Thanks a lot for the info Dr Bob. I guess I will use Lloyds!
by Keishi rate this post as useful

Open a second bank account 2008/8/16 03:34
Open a second bank account at your US bank with someone you trust explicitly like your mother, father or a sibling. Mail a cheque back each month that they can deposit into the joint account. Then you should be able to transfer funds from the joint account to your other account. You'll be paying about the same in conversion (Yen to Dollars) but at least you will be saving on the service fees.
by .. rate this post as useful

A cheque? 2008/8/16 10:11
Do you mean traveller's cheques? (Checks for the Americans). I think I'm missing how the money changes from yen to dollars, since you don't usually get cheques with Japanese bank accounts.
by SHU rate this post as useful

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