I recently moved across the country. All 3,000 miles by car. That’s right – I drove from Tampa Bay to San Francisco Bay. By myself. I could give you the details of the drive, like why you should at least once take a trip down I-70 through Colorado, but the lesson I really want to share is what happens when you get to your new city and financial issues arise.
Know Before You Go
One of the most important things to know before you move across the country is what kind of banking service you will have. If you have a regional bank or credit union (like Suntrust in the south east, First Niagara Bank in the north east, and Bank of the West in the west) you will not have access to local branches if you change regions. The next thing you should find out is how much you can withdraw or cash advance from your debit card.
I experienced this first hand when I needed either a cashier’s check or money order in order to put down my first month’s rent and security deposit on an apartment. I couldn’t go to my local branch for the cashier’s check, so I initially went with a money order – which is cash only. It was then that I discovered my daily ATM withdrawal limit. For the record, it was not enough. In fact, it would have taken me a week to get the money I needed. And that didn’t factor in ATM fees, which would have added up. At this point I even called my bank, confirmed my identity, but they could not increase the withdrawal limit.
Now if you have a debit card or credit card, there is the cash advance option. However, these usually entail stiff fees, and in the case of debit cards, they may have an associated maximum daily withdraw limit attached to your ATM limit as well. As I had maxed out one, I had maxed out the other.
Stay Calm and Open a New Account
Fortunately there are options, as I thankfully discovered. Opening up new accounts with nationwide banks will usually enable an immediate transfer from your existing account to the new account. This benefits you by making the needed cash available and gives you access to a local bank for additional financial situations. While a long process, I was able to open up a new bank account, transfer the money I needed, and walk out with the cashier’s check I needed for my new apartment.
Why Credit Scores Matter
Of course, none of this would have mattered had I not been actively managing my credit score. Don’t forget: when you submit an application for a new lease, the realtor or property manager will often run a credit report on you, looking at your credit history as well as your residency history. Getting in touch with the property manager early helped, but what really solidified my rental agreement was my FICO® Score. Had it been low, I may have been in competition for the apartment, which would have made things even more stressful.
So to review, here are the things you need to ask yourself before moving
- Do you have access to your bank in your new city?
- What is the total daily amount of cash you can withdraw?
- Would you be willing to open up a new bank account?
- Do you have enough to open a new bank account?
Experiencing things like this can be frustrating and nerve-wracking. Being prepared can save you a lot of unwanted stress, fees, and time. Doing your research before big moves always helps, but there are certain issues you may be unaware. Learn from those that come before you, know what cash limits you can get on immediate notice before the move, and make sure you have a solid credit score.
Michael Cohen is the Content, Community and Social Media Manager at myFICO.com.