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Highlander32
(@Highlander32)
Advanced Member

I was wondering if I should leave my accounts in N.J. or open new accounts on St . Thomas. I heard the banks require large account balances to avoid high maintenance fees. Are all the banks on the island like that?

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Topic starter Posted : September 17, 2010 3:38 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

i have accounts here and in florida. i like that idea best. not all accounts need high opening balances. it is always a good idea to have a bank on island especially if you have to hire local contractors for any reason. off island checks can take up to two weeks or longer to clear. not fair to the local person you are paying. keep that in mind.

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Posted : September 17, 2010 3:41 pm
lc98
 lc98
(@lc98)
Trusted Member

Be prepared to do a lot more transactions in cash than you may be used to doing stateside. If you do not have a local account, you will have to pay a fee for every cash withdrawal, and you may run into limits at the ATM. Also, you will not be able to deposit a check without sending it back to your bank stateside. I have a free checking account stateside but have moved most of my banking to FirstBank since moving down.

I don't know about the other banks, but FirstBank doesn't charge a fee if you maintain an average daily balance of $1,000 for their basic checking; or you can get a savings account for no fees -- if you do everything with cash or an electronic transaction, this is a good free option.

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Posted : September 17, 2010 4:12 pm
Bratt
(@Bratt)
Advanced Member

Highlander,

When we moved here we had both accounts one stateside and one local. Eventually, we closed the stateside account. However, if you are dealing with anyone stateside that you must write checks to and visa versa, keep stateside. It takes forever for "non-local" checks to clear.

Also, to get the "visa logo" on your debit card, go to Banco Popular. First Bank required us to have the account open for a full year before we could get the visa logo. To pay bills online, I then had to open a Banco Popular account.

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Posted : September 17, 2010 5:30 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

BRATT, thats what they told me too when i first opened my account. i went back a few weeks later for another iissue, i told them i wanted one with a visa logo and got one shortly

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Posted : September 17, 2010 6:19 pm
billd
(@billd)
Trusted Member

I live in NJ and spend about 9 months in STT. I keep BOTH accounts. If you choose a bank the Banko Popular in Red Hook is a big problem. You had better get in there before 10:30 and NEVER on Mondays, the 15th or the end the month.

If you determine that the VI is not for you then you can go back.

Bill

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Posted : September 17, 2010 11:29 pm
reaader30
(@reaader30)
Active Member

I'm not sure I understand. I checked into it and found that Chase Manhattan was available on St. Thomas. Is this not correct? My accounts are with them and my husband is flying in on this Monday. I have to know that he will have availability to our funds. Can someone help? If I have Chase accounts, can I bank on St. Thomas?

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Posted : September 18, 2010 9:16 am
dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
Trusted Member

Chase withdrew from the USVI years ago. St. Thomas has Banco Popular and First Bank, both from Puerto Rico, and ScotiaBank from Canada.

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Posted : September 18, 2010 9:36 am
Edward
(@Edward)
Trusted Member

I opened checking and savings accounts at First Bank VI. I'm glad I did. There are many occasions when I need face-to-face banking.

I kept my Bank of America account, too.

I have online banking with both banks. Very handy for paying bills.

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Posted : September 18, 2010 1:08 pm
Highlander32
(@Highlander32)
Advanced Member

I'll need to pay my mortgage in N.J. until my house sells. Will I be able to pay electronically from any of these banks? Should I bring cash to the island to open an account or will a certified check clear faster than a personal check? Does any one know if I'll be able to transfer funds electronically from my U.S. bank to a bank in the V.I. and vise versa? My job in St. Thomas will direct deposit but I'll need to tranfer back and forth from time to time. Thanks for all your help. John

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Topic starter Posted : September 18, 2010 3:57 pm
roadrunner
(@roadrunner)
Trusted Member

It's probably faster to bring cash to open an account. Banco Popular wanted $500 from me. Not sure about the others. I transfer funds all the time, but I was told that most of the on-island banks charge a transfer fee if you initiate the transfer with the on-island bank. Stateside banks are less likely to have fees, so if you initiate the transfer with your stateside bank, you're probably better off.

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Posted : September 18, 2010 4:04 pm
Linda J
(@Linda_J)
Expert

We pay our credit card electronically from our Banco Popular account every month, so I imagine your mortgage would be the same.

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Posted : September 18, 2010 4:18 pm
Edward
(@Edward)
Trusted Member

I agree you should bring cash. It makes it easier to open accounts. But you can also deposit off-island checks.

It can take up to 7 business days for funds to be "available." Your deposits will show in your balance, but they will not be immediately available.

Once funds are available, you can use them to write checks, send wires, or pay bills electronically.

When you open your checking account, be sure to ask for Online Bill Pay.

When in doubt, ask your banker.

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Posted : September 18, 2010 6:10 pm
roadrunner
(@roadrunner)
Trusted Member

My deposits (checks) are always available on the same day at Banco Popular. I take them in person (hoping to stop that hassle soon, when my direct deposit kicks in!), and I specifically ask the teller to make it available that day. She deposits the check as "cash," and I come home and immediately move it to my stateside bank online. It takes 2 business days to be available at my stateside bank.

The only really annoying thing about the local banks here is the long line. Usually it wraps back and forth and down the hall. However, there have been a couple of times when I've been pleasantly surprised by a 2-3 person line. Just have to start writing down those times so I can aim for them. 🙂

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Posted : September 18, 2010 7:12 pm
STXBob
(@STXBob)
Trusted Member

If you're depositing a paycheck, I think a bank has to make the funds available immediately, but I don't know the exact rules.

With bigger (non paycheck) check deposits from stateside, First Bank sometimes makes the first $400 available after 1 or 2 days, and the rest after 5 days.

When I opened an account at First Bank 5 years ago with an initial deposit via a stateside check, I seem to recall that they froze the funds for 30 days. So an initial deposit of cash would avoid that.

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Posted : September 18, 2010 7:23 pm
dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
Trusted Member

Should I bring cash to the island to open an account or will a certified check clear faster than a personal check?

When I opened an account at First Bank 5 years ago with an initial deposit via a stateside check, I seem to recall that they froze the funds for 30 days. So an initial deposit of cash would avoid that.

A few years ago I was in the states and closed an old account. I returned home to STT with the cash, and when I opened a new account at a STT bank they placed a thirty day hold on my cash deposit, because I did not have an established relationship with them! 😀

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Posted : September 18, 2010 9:21 pm
Edward
(@Edward)
Trusted Member

You can get current information from the web sites of the VI banks.

First Bank: http://www.firstbankvi.com/

Banco Popular: http://www.popular.com/vi/personal/loans/vi-per-loa-per-wsav-en.jsp

Scotiabank: http://www.scotiabank.com/vi/cda/index/0,,LIDen,00.html

If you don't see the information you need, you can send a message or call with specific questions. I've found them all to be friendly.

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Posted : September 21, 2010 11:23 am
beachy
(@beachy)
Trusted Member

even when Chase was active in the VI there was NO Connection between stateside chase accounts and VI Chase accounts...you could not transfer, and they could not do any sort of internal movement of funds. It was crazy, but banking has changed alot in the years since then.

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Posted : September 21, 2010 11:44 am
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