Investigate your banking options in advance
Future expats heading to countries with less developed banking systems should prepare to put any prospective bank under a microscope.
Focus on the target bank's international clearing networks, says banking lawyer Michael Cavendish of Gunster law firm in Jacksonville, Fla. Determine whether the bank issues U.S.-style credit cards with the Visa or MasterCard brands, or whether it participates in a shared ATM or payment clearance network, such as Cirrus.
"Participation in consumer-oriented networks and partnerships is a sign of reliability since it indicates the bank has been vetted by the network or another major business," says Cavendish.
Also verify whether deposits are guaranteed and by whom. If the host country's government guarantees the accounts, consider the stability of the government. If the guarantor is a private organization, research the strength and reputation of the organization.
Finally, confirm that private banks in your target country allow U.S. citizens to open a bank account. In some countries, private banks are hesitating or even refusing to permit U.S. citizens to open accounts for fear of being unable to comply with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which requires banks to inform the IRS of accounts held by expats.
Once these questions are satisfactorily answered, examine interest rates, fees, ATM availability and other conveniences.