Had the appointment to get a bank account setup this morning. It seemed to go ok, until I realized that the last bank account I opened state-side I did completely online, had immediate access to the funds electronically (once they hit the account) and had my debit card within a couple days.
The process today took the better part of an hour-and-a-half in an office with a person (two, actually), and involved me handing over a small stack of cash which won’t be accessible for two days, and we won’t get our debit cards for two weeks.
I tried their online banking this evening. Every time I login I need to provide two mostly un-memorizable bits of information (a 10 digit client id and a 6 digit secret code) along with three randomly chosen digits from a string of 16 random characters they gave me on a credit card with a silver scratch off strip.
I learned I could go through a lengthy and buggy activation process to replace the last of those three with a one-time password from the (physical) token they gave me, but I gave up when the registration process switched from english to french in the middle.
It gets better – regardless of how much I have in said account, my weekly ATM cash withdrawal limit is 1500€, and I can transact another 1500€ at point of sale per week. If I want to make a large purchase, I can call them and “within a couple hours” they can raise the limit for a week or two.
I’m sure the cashier at Ikea will be happy to hang out for a couple hours while that gets worked out. Note to self: bring American credit cards on our shopping trips.
So I went to the ATM in that branch, after opening an account with that bank, and used one of my US debit cards to withdraw a couple hundred Euro in walking around cash.
I’m beginning to undersand why Europeans save so much more than Americans – they can’t get easy access to their money.
In other news, we (with a bit of help from Irene, our helpful relocation contact) started the registration process with the local government this morning. That was a reasonably short meeting – 45 minutes or so, most of it taken by the state agent making multiple certified copies of (all pages of) our passports.
Tomorrow morning we go for the mandated medical exam, tomorrow afternoon we have someone coming to fix a leaking faucet in the apartment, and hopefully once they leave we have time to go shop for a washer dryer, which I imagine I’ll rant about later.