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Old 26.06.2014, 21:47
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Exchanging a lot of currency

I am from the US but I came to EPFL for 2.5 months as a visiting researcher. Since I am only here for less than 3 months, I don't have a residency permit. When I first arrived, I went to UBS to try to make a bank account but they declined without the residency permit. Since I don't have a bank account, I have to just cash the checks I receive. However, when I leave Switzerland I will still have thousands of CHF. I'm trying to figure out where to exchange them for USD with the lowest rate or some alternative for getting the money back to the US without losing a huge chunk. Does anyone have suggestions of good currency exchange places in the Lausanne/Geneva area? I'm also open to other suggestions of how to get the money back to the US.
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Old 26.06.2014, 23:35
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

how many swiss francs are you hoping to sell?.

If we can agree on a good rate for the two of us, I could request BofA to either deliver a check for the USD amount or issue an ACH wire payment (using your ABA routing number and account -kind of like direct deposit of a paycheck) (at the banks prevailing fee) to your US bank account.

Alternatively, if you are looking to walk away with physical USD cash, that might be a bit more difficult but not impossible.

incidentally, this is part of what I do for a living, just with bigger numbers...
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Old 27.06.2014, 00:03
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

I'm unsure as I was looking into this for the future. I think it would be a few thousand Francs. I actually have a BoA account so it wouldn't be difficult to do a deposit. I guess there are just a few more security concerns with going through individuals rather than banks or a company.
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Old 27.06.2014, 00:04
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

Do you have anyone you can trust to pay the money into his account, and then transfer it to currencyfair.com (=effectively a domestic transfer in CHF) ?

Because if you create a customer account with currencyfair, you can send them your CHFs, exchange them to USDs at very good rates, and then initiate a domestic USD-transaction into your account via "Wire" - whatever that is (seems to be a domestic US thing?).

Maybe currencyfair can also enable you to pay the money into their account in a bank in cash. Not sure if this might be possible.

Last edited by ChrisNeedsToKnow; 27.06.2014 at 00:18.
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Old 27.06.2014, 00:22
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

One idea I have thought about is asking someone I know to deposit the cash for me and do an international wire transfer. It's free for me on my end and I get a great exchange rate. However, I'm not sure what the fees are at banks in Switzerland.
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Old 27.06.2014, 00:28
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

Can you not just ask EPFL to pay you into you US bank account?
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Old 27.06.2014, 00:32
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

I actually did and I brought the information on how to do so. When I gave them all the info, they seemed confident they could do. I'm not sure what happened since then but the admin told me today they were having trouble getting the payment to work. Instead of informing me of this earlier, they just issued a check with 80% of my full stipend. Although I tried to explain to her these issues, there wasn't much sympathy or suggestions for what I could do. Her only suggestion was that I purchase a safe to hold my money.
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Old 27.06.2014, 04:33
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

Did you try opening a bank account postfinance or another bank?

Most of them are very reluctant to take us citizens because of the reporting end.

Alternatively, I think you need to talk to the employer's accountant again and ask them to solve it.

Did they issue a check that in USD or CHF? Is it an international cheque, with the assumption that you can deposit it to your US acccount?

Alternatively, does your US bank have a branch or subsidiary anywhere in Switzerland that you can talk to to try to deposit it from the Swiss side of things...

Otherwise, to change cash the best deal I think is with the SBB (train system) which has cash/currency exchange services all over Switzerland. If you do not want to carry it as cash for your return flight then you could put it onto a prepaid 'travel' cash card from one of the credit card companies...but the fees on this would need some researching...
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Old 27.06.2014, 06:04
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

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One idea I have thought about is asking someone I know to deposit the cash for me and do an international wire transfer. It's free for me on my end and I get a great exchange rate. However, I'm not sure what the fees are at banks in Switzerland.
Not too costly. Apprx 25chf is usually what UBS charges me
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Old 27.06.2014, 06:46
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

I initially tried to open one at UBS. I've heard only recently that PostFinance may give me an account without the residency permit (I have a work visa, work permit and hiring documents).

I can try going to the accountant as currently I have only dealt with the admin who has handled all my employment paperwork. It is a check in CHF that she told me only can be cashed at the Post Office. I asked others in the department and they told me their first paychecks were given the same way. They could deposit subsequent checks into their banks but the first one, they had to get cash and deposit it themselves.

My US bank doesn't have a Swiss subsidiary but would accept an international check without any fees but I'm told this one can only be cashed at the post office.

I've found it pretty easy to look at American banks and services for the exchange rates and fees online. I've had a bit more trouble with finding them online for Swiss banks and agencies. I've looked into several banks (UBS, Postfinance, Migros, Coop, etc...), travel cards, money exchangers but I don't have an actual approximate exchange rate for these places. My current plan was to visit Postfinance in the next few days to try to make an account and hope for the best there.

Otherwise, I'll probably have to do a currency exchange somewhere or try to find someone to do a wire transfer with me (25 CHF is very reasonable).
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Old 27.06.2014, 10:46
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

If you're struggling to find options, this one might work. You do need a bank account to get the card, but the funds are not tied to the account. It's like modern-day traveler's cheques, I guess. You can make cash withdrawals at ATMs worldwide (for a fee, of course) and you can use it at any place that accepts MasterCard too. Might be worth looking into.

http://www.travelcash.ch/Travel-Cash...09.0.html?&L=3

eta - The exchange rate we get is a more favorable bank rate than what you see at those currency-changing stations.

Also - You could possibly just walk into the UBS at the Geneva airport with a wad of CHFs and ask for a wad of Greenbacks in return. They probably wouldn't bat an eye.
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Old 27.06.2014, 11:56
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

Yeah if I just had a bank account, I would be fine. I will visit a few and see if it's possible to open account. I have a good bank in the US, so I have no problem withdrawing money at ATMs worldwide. It's getting the money back in that's the issue.

In the US, the exchange rates at most banks for selling back the CHF is quite poor so you end up losing 6-7%. I didn't see rates published online for UBS or most of the other banks here so I'm going to go ask them what the exchange rate is.

Unfortunately living in Switzerland is quite pricey compared to the US, so I'd prefer to not lose a big portion of my money to currency exchange fees. Thanks for all the suggestions.
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Old 27.06.2014, 14:48
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

Maybe you can ask EPFL to transfer your funds directly into www.currencyfair.com (or www.transferwise.com or the like). Like this you´d have control over your cash, you can exchange it when you deem fit, and transfer it on the US side.

If you don´t want to go through an agency and your US bank provides non-rip-off fx rates, Postfinance would be a good choice: Last time I effected an international transfer they charged me CHF 2.--. As far as I know that´s valid from Switzerland to worldwide.
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Old 27.06.2014, 15:12
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

Did transferwise.com tie up with any bank? The rate they offer is very good but not sure if its a safe way to transfer as I guess they are private organisation.
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Old 27.06.2014, 15:43
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

Xe.com would work if you can get someone to put the money in their Swiss account. It's a free domestic transfer (at least for me with PostFinance) and I've used it a bunch of times for moving money around the world (US<->CH included). Works great. I'm not local to you otherwise I'd offer to help if it's only a few thousand CHF. You might want to take up Arbitrage-Baby up on his offer if he's local.
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Old 27.06.2014, 16:10
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

SwissTransfer is a good choice, they only charge 5Chf per 1000Chf and the money will be credited to your account maximum 2days after the transfer and it will be on the current exchange rate too.

There is normally a charge for International wire transfer (incoming and outgoing) and the rate varies per bank and its location. It takes maximum 5-7 business days.
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Old 28.06.2014, 23:57
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

Sorry, I'm not familiar with what SwissTransfer is?

Today I went to PostFinance to ask for an account. I was told I could not get one without an attestation de residence. It seems to me this attestation is different from the residency permit. Online, they say that you only need a passport to get this document. Does anyone know if there are other required documents?
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Old 29.06.2014, 19:14
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

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Do you have anyone you can trust to pay the money into his account, and then transfer it to currencyfair.com (=effectively a domestic transfer in CHF) ?

Because if you create a customer account with currencyfair, you can send them your CHFs, exchange them to USDs at very good rates, and then initiate a domestic USD-transaction into your account via "Wire" - whatever that is (seems to be a domestic US thing?).

Maybe currencyfair can also enable you to pay the money into their account in a bank in cash. Not sure if this might be possible.
Just from experience, I might advise against this. I have tried several times and several ways to transfer money to a US bank account. On two separate occasions, it did not work and tied up my money for days. I used two us bank accounts and both were unsuccessful.
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Old 30.06.2014, 00:00
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

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Just from experience, I might advise against this. I have tried several times and several ways to transfer money to a US bank account. On two separate occasions, it did not work and tied up my money for days. I used two us bank accounts and both were unsuccessful.
Did you end up doing anything else to get the money or did you just wait the several days?

I went to PostFinance and asked about getting a bank account. They said I could not do it without at least an attestation de residence. They did mention it's possible to apply for one with my US address but that it was unlikely to be approved. I've looked through other threads and saw some mentions of the attestation. It looks to me like most people get this while waiting for their residence permit. As I am here less than 90 days, I never intend to get a residence permit. Does anyone know if this disqualifies me for getting the attestation? Also, the requirements listed online for getting the document are money and a passport. Are there any other necessary documents?
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Old 30.06.2014, 00:08
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Re: Exchanging a lot of currency

This is crazy. It is not hard for your company to do an international transfer to your US account.... Just not normal for them. Maybe you need to speak to someone who deals with the bank account rather than just the admin person!
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