Managing Your Finances While Abroad
Paying Bills Back Home
To pay your bills while abroad companies like CheckFree and Transpoint offer (sometimes free of charge) electronic bill-paying services for a limited number of bills. More bills can be added to the account for a fee. Clients complain that after filling out all the required paperwork they find that many creditors do not participate or will not send bills to a third party.
Other companies, like Paytrust.com, claim to be able to pay any and all bills for you. Unfortunately, the complaints about them are similar and the fees can get rather high. Customers with both types of companies have complained that they have received the wrong bill payment information.
Ideally, you should start using your new system two or three months before you leave in order to iron out any complications while you can still benefit from toll-free customer service. Also, if you're planning to use Quicken or MS Money to manage your U.S.-based accounts from overseas, buy the software here: the overseas versions can't be used with U.S. institutions.
Weeding out your creditors and choosing only those with an "autopay" feature on their site will help with high fees. Services are continually improving and we can hope to see all creditors hopping aboard the EBPP (Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment) bandwagon soon.
However you choose to solve your bill-paying dilemma, there's still the problem of how to get money into your U.S. account. In your new home you won't be receiving checks in U.S. dollars, so simply sending in your deposits is not an option. In this case your only option is a wire transfer from your local bank to your U.S. account, which will cost anywhere from $10 to $50 per transfer depending on where you live.
Before your big move, be sure to check one of the popular "consumer rating" sites to see what kind of praise and complaints your prospective service currently receives.