Making Aliyah is amazing! Well, to clarify that statement, the feeling of being at home and living in this holy country are amazing. The path to actually getting through the Aliyah process is a different story. We know all too well about the difficulties dealing with Israeli bureaucracy.
While there is not much we can do to make our Aliyah process more enjoyable and easier, there are at least certain things we can control. It is extremely important to keep control over our money, especially when most of us probably keep a bank account outside of Israel. So, what can we do to ensure our “banking Aliyah” goes smoothly? Here are our top 5 tips to think about before and the during Aliyah process.
1) Speak to your originating bank first
Many clients don’t make arrangements with their bank outside of Israel before making Aliyah. When they decide they are ready to move money to Israel, they call the bank or go online and find they must walk into their branch in order to make the wire transfer. Make sure to speak with your “home” bank so you have the ability to transfer your money internationally before making Aliyah!
2) Beware of bank charges
There are certain costs and charges to take into account before transferring your funds when making Aliyah. The international wire transfer cost from the US is around $40 and from the UK, £20. On the Israeli side, there is a receiving charge at all banks that can run anywhere from $20-$150 just for the “convenience” of accepting and depositing the money into your account. There is a commission charge as well for converting your funds and the bank gives you a standard (read: poor) exchange rate for most normal transfers.
Of course, with IsraTransfer there are no receiving charges or commissions taken for our services. We simply give you a better rate than your bank and absorb the other bank fees for you. We make money only on the difference in the rate we get from the bank and the rate we pass on to our clients, which is still a better rate than your bank would provide.
Exchange rate fluctuations can affect budgeting for buying a home or making other large transfers. For example, you have budget of 12,000 Shekels per month. Assuming an exchange rate of 4.0, you are setting your budget at $3000 per month to live off. However, in reality the exchange rate can and will change as it does every few seconds. It is best to work your budget on a worst case scenario rate of around 3.2 (about the lowest in a few years) to ensure you are safe from any fluctuations within that range.
4) Forward planning
If you are making large purchases, you need to be aware of how fast exchange rates move. As we noted, the rate changes constantly, so the more time you give yourself to make a decision, the better chance you will see better rates which you can take advantage of. If you leave yourself only a few days to convert the funds, you can end up with a poor rate and without much choice but to convert.
5) Avoid checks
Checks are a main source of converting funds into Shekels. While they can be easier to cash and convert for the average customer, they are more costly than other options, sometimes running from 1-2 percent in total charges. It is especially good practice to avoid checks for larger amounts as you can run into potential issues.
You can also find a video version of this post on IsraTransfer’s Youtube channel here.
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