Author Topic: Money Management in Israel for Olim  (Read 1072 times)

Offline mookie

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Money Management in Israel for Olim
« on: March 27, 2019, 12:16:06 PM »
I've been reading a lot about banking in Israel for my upcoming Aliyah. I was hoping we might have a discussion about certain money matters in Israel for Olim. At this point I'm not referring to churning, just regular money management. I would like to keep it separate from the issues that people in yeshiva/seminary have. A lot of the other boards that address some of these issues are old.

I keep reading about bank fees in Israel. It seems that keeping transactions like withdrawals and debit card use to a minimum is important. First, is this true? Second, what are the best options for everyday spending and paying the bill with shekalim? Is it simple to use a no fee US cc for everyday spending and transfer NIS to a US bank account to pay the bill? Is that stupid? 

Offline bendor

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2019, 04:21:52 AM »
You should probably definitely meet with a professional, and not rely on the advice of random strangers, even if it is DDF.

But to answer your questions:
I keep reading about bank fees in Israel. It seems that keeping transactions like withdrawals and debit card use to a minimum is important. First, is this true?
What's actually important is getting a bank account that doesn't have fees. That way you don't have to deal with all the ridiculous shenanigans of the Israeli banks - who will try and charge you for absolutely everything. (Why does it make sense that taking money out of the bank's own ATM should cost you 3.5NIS every time?!)
  • Some banks have accounts that will waive fees perpetually as long as you have a minimum monthly deposit (e.g. most Yahav accounts)
  • Some banks have accounts that will waive fees for 2-3 years (e.g. Mizrachi accounts, most Student/Soldier accounts in all banks) and then you have to call them up every year and complain. (I was able to get the fees waived for an additional 2 years, and then the third year they said we're charging you no matter what so I said I'm leaving no matter what).
  • All banks have accounts where they don't waive any fees. Don't open one.

Second, what are the best options for everyday spending and paying the bill with shekalim? Is it simple to use a no fee US cc for everyday spending and transfer NIS to a US bank account to pay the bill? Is that stupid?
There aren't any amazing Israeli cards for everyday spending. Some supermarket/gas cards have certain discounts, and if you are eligible there are certain consumer groups (hever, teachers, doctors, etc.) which have discounts. You can usually waive the monthly fee by calling in once a year, or by closing and reopening the credit card. (Unlike opening a new bank account, which can easily be a 3 hour endeavor for US citizens, opening a credit card is usually very quick).

While it's simple enough to use a no-fee US credit card (just make sure it doesn't have Foreign Transactions Fees) you'll have to do the math to figure out if the equation makes sense for you. Transferring NIS to a US bank account can incur significant fees (rule #1: never use the banks!), and you're reliant on the exchange rate. Unless you find a friend who earns dollars and wants shekels  ;)

Also note that AMEX is not accepted everywhere, so always have a backup.

Offline mookie

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2019, 09:10:49 AM »
Thanks for the info. I'll have to look out for no fee accounts, this is the first I've heard of it.

Regarding everyday spending, assuming that I want to pay in NIS, not an American CC, are there regular American style CC's in Israel? I read in one article that bank CC's are usually just debit cards which I don't like using for security concerns.

Offline moe8555

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2019, 01:39:56 AM »
Thanks for the info. I'll have to look out for no fee accounts, this is the first I've heard of it.

Regarding everyday spending, assuming that I want to pay in NIS, not an American CC, are there regular American style CC's in Israel? I read in one article that bank CC's are usually just debit cards which I don't like using for security concerns.

They aren't exactly debit cards where the charge is immediately deducted from your account, rather charge cards in which the entire sum of your monthly charges is deducted once a month all at once.

There are U.S.-style credit cards that let you choose how much to pay each month, but most cards don't offer that option.  I believe CAL is pretty strong in this department and offers the following: https://www.cal-online.co.il/ecredit/calchoice/

From personal experience, it's very similar to the U.S. where you have a minimum payment and can choose to pay up to the entire statement balance, whereas the portion left unpaid accrues interest and rolls over to next month.

Offline mookie

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2019, 02:17:07 PM »
Now, if I'm planning to use my current USD to pay for stuff in the early stages of my aliyah, what's the recommended way to bring the money over? I'm talking about a few thousand $ at a time to be used for oven, fridge etc and rent/utilities. I can bring over some cash and exchange in Israel, I can transfer as needed, and/or have a US checking account which allows free withdrawals.
Obviously, bringing too much cash has risks, transferring has fees and I've read that withdrawing, even with ATM fee refunds, can cost you bad on the exchange rate. If you use the Schwab bank account or Capital one can you leave your experiences and tips. Thanks in advance.

Offline iambarry

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2019, 03:58:14 AM »
Now, if I'm planning to use my current USD to pay for stuff in the early stages of my aliyah, what's the recommended way to bring the money over? I'm talking about a few thousand $ at a time to be used for oven, fridge etc and rent/utilities.
I've been using Transfer Wise.
Once you have a bank account setup in Israel, you can use TransferWise to wire money from your US account.  They give you the mid market rate and charge a flat fee.  It ends up being much cheaper that having your bank wire the money, and seems to be better than other similar services I've priced.

You can check out their website directly, or use this link: https://transferwise.com/ie/barryl115 .  Note if you sign up with that link they give me 50.

Offline Buruch

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2019, 08:07:00 AM »
When using transferwise, do you park some dollars in your borderless account, and whenever you want, transfer to your Israeli account in shekels, or do you transfer directly from your us account into your shekels account? Also, is there any difference whether you're sending to yourself in Israel or sending to someone else in Israel?

Offline iambarry

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2019, 08:46:55 AM »
When using transferwise, do you park some dollars in your borderless account, and whenever you want, transfer to your Israeli account in shekels, or do you transfer directly from your us account into your shekels account? Also, is there any difference whether you're sending to yourself in Israel or sending to someone else in Israel?
I transfer directly from dollars in my US bank account to shekels in my Israeli account.  You can either use ACH or wire transfer from your US account.  ACH costs a few dollars more (~$5), but its slightly easier and may be cheaper if you US bank charges you for wires.

I've only sent to my own account, but AFAIK you can send to anyone's Israeli account.

Offline srap

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2019, 08:49:35 AM »
Great idea for a thread!  I look forward to reading more ideas.

Offline mookie

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2019, 12:31:58 PM »
I've been using Transfer Wise.
Once you have a bank account setup in Israel, you can use TransferWise to wire money from your US account.  They give you the mid market rate and charge a flat fee.  It ends up being much cheaper that having your bank wire the money, and seems to be better than other similar services I've priced.

You can check out their website directly, or use this link: https://transferwise.com/ie/barryl115 .  Note if you sign up with that link they give me 50.

Thanks for the info. I have a much better idea of what to expect now using their website. If I sign up I'll be sure to use your link. I wonder how they compare to IsraTransfer. Just to be sure, there is no extra charge from the Israeli bank to accept the transfer?

Offline iambarry

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2019, 02:08:35 PM »
Just to be sure, there is no extra charge from the Israeli bank to accept the transfer?
My bank (Mizrachi) doesn't charge for accepting the transfer.

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2019, 01:47:42 AM »
My bank (Mizrachi) doesn't charge for accepting the transfer.

Is the transfer seen as a domestic (Israeli bank) transfer or from abroad?  The transfer arrives in ILS?

Offline iambarry

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2019, 11:47:04 AM »
Is the transfer seen as a domestic (Israeli bank) transfer or from abroad?  The transfer arrives in ILS?
The transfer arrives in ILS.  It shows up labeled as follows.  Sorry but I'm unfamiliar with the acronym מזה''ב.  I've phone'd a friend and will update when I get a translation.

Offline bendor

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Re: Money Management in Israel for Olim
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2019, 04:11:23 AM »
זה"ב is the Israeli name for IBAN (I think it's an acronym of זיכוי העברות בזמן אמת)

Bank of Israel manages an alternative money-transferring system for domestic-only transfers (similar to ACH, I guess), where the transfers only go into effect the following business day.