Cross Border Banking
by Staff Writer
If you’ve ever spent a bit of time in the United States, chances are you’ve encountered some difficulty navigating the American banking system. There are many differences between the way you can manage finances at home and the banking methods observed here in U.S. It’s important that you fully understand those differences so you can avoid some common pitfalls.
Everyday Banking Distinctions
As you become acclimated with daily banking activities in the United States, there are several distinctions that, unless you’re aware of them, can cause unnecessary stress. The following are some of the most important:
• Post-dated checks are not honoured in the U.S. – If you post-date a check and the party to whom you wrote it deposits it earlier than you had intended, the check will clear and the amount deducted from your account.
• Utility bills cannot be paid through banking offices, telephone banking, or ATMs – Utility bills can be paid via check, credit or check card, or online bill pay services directly to the utility company.
• The U.S. clearing system is often much slower than Canada’s – While a check clears in one day in Canada, a check can take up to 14 days to clear in the U.S.
• Account balances are not shown in ‘real-time’ – U.S. bank accounts display 2 balance types. The ledger balance is calculated at the end of each business day. Deposits made prior to banking center or ATM cut-off times are included in this balance; as are checks clearing from highest to lowest dollar amount. Overdraft fees are calculated using this balance.
The available balance reflects the amount of money in your account actually available for use. The available balance may be lower than your ledger balance as check items in your deposit may not have cleared. Check card transactions that haven’t cleared yet will reduce your available balance but many times not for the exact amount. Tips at restaurants, gas pump purchases, and hotel deposits or reservations are typically not accurately reflected until the entire transaction clears.
• Overdraft protection lines are not automatically repaid – While an overdraft protection line will automatically advance funds to cover overdrafts, you must call, visit, or use online banking to pay back the principal and interest in full.
• Debit and check cards may authorize purchases causing you to overdraw – This can occur due to overstated available balance based on checks or transaction holds that haven’t cleared. An overdraft line of credit can help prevent this.
Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Capabilities
While U.S. ATMs work the same as ABMs do at home, there are limitations as to how you’re able to use them. U.S. ATMs allow you to:
Make deposits (at compatible machines only)
Transfer funds to and from certain account types
Obtain ledger account balances and a brief transaction history
Unlike ABMs, you can’t pay your utility bills, get real-time account balance updates, or generate statements and older account history when using ATMs. In addition, ATMs considered ‘out of network’ relative to the type of card you use, only allow you to access one checking and one savings account and you may be charged for your transactions. RBC Bank clients, however, enjoy no-fee access to nearly 1,300 ATMs; including 850 Presto* ATMs in Publix supermarkets.
Visa Check Card Advantages & Limitations
In the United States, Visa check cards are convenient tools that let you:
Make purchases in-store and online wherever Visa is accepted
Access cash & transfer funds at ATMs
Earn rewards points for signed transactions
When comparing U.S. check cards to the debit cards or client cards you’re accustomed to using in Canada, there are several meaningful differences. U.S. check cards do not:
Earn rewards points for PIN based or debit transactions
Require a PIN to complete credit transactions
Carry personal or account information that can be scanned at bank locations
It’s also important to note that, even though U.S. check cards carry the Visa logo, they are not credit cards. The amount of any purchase will be deducted from your U.S. checking account. One unique feature of U.S. check cards is liability protection they offer the cardholder. Through federal regulations and Visa policies, most U.S. check cards protect cardholders from the liability that arises from fraudulent use or theft. When using a U.S. check card, it’s wise to always carry a picture identification card as you may be asked to present one at point of sale. Some merchants also require U.S. zip code verification for transaction approval.
RBC has an easy way to manage funds between the U.S. and Canada. Just follow these simple steps to create a single sign in to access your RBC Royal Bank and RBC Bank (USA) accounts at the same time.
1. Login to RBC Bank (USA) Online Banking
2. At the Self Service menu, select View accounts from other financial institutions
3. Click Access your RBC Bank (USA) and RBC Royal Bank accounts at the same time
4. Click continue
5. When prompted, enter your RBC Royal Bank Client Card number and Online Banking password
6. Click confirm
And that’s it! You’re now ready to manage funds between the U.S. and Canada quickly and easily. If you need more information, just visit your nearest RBC Bank location or call 1-800-ROYAL-53