Let's face facts; living abroad can be expensive, and sometimes it can cause challenges with payments. Here is a helpful guide to assist you with different payment methods that you can use while abroad. Living overseas, you will still need to purchase many of the same supplies you consume in your home country like food, housing, toiletries, and internet access plus the added expenses of your student fees for your chosen ESL program or school. There are a variety of payment methods abroad that you can use to make sure you maintain a steady supply of pizza or hamburgers (or perhaps, a more balanced diet) while you're away from home.
If you will be renting an apartment or room in a house, you'll need to pay for this arrangement either on a monthly basis or all at once, depending on the preference of your landlord or apartment management company. Depending on where you are located, they may have preferred payment methods as well. Some larger apartment communities have the ability to receive payment directly from a bank account or to take payment from a debit or credit card over a website. If you're dealing with a smaller company or individual landlord, you'll probably need to pay them with a check. These items are normally used for larger purchases, and allow the payee to draw a specific amount of money from your or your supporting family member's bank account. Many landlords may not take a check from a foreign bank, so it's normally a good idea to set up an account in the country you're going to be staying in. Many landlords will not take normal checks, and prefer to be paid in a cashier's check, money order, or bank check. These items are sometimes preferable because they offer the person receiving the payment guaranteed funds. You can normally get a money order, cashier's check, or other form of guaranteed payment from your bank, a money order service, or a post office. Many landlords or management companies have specific ways that they want to be paid; you should ask the person you'll be directly dealing with what their preference is before you attempt to make payment. If you're going to be staying on your school's campus, you will likely be able to pay the school directly for your housing expenses. We recommend contacting your housing facility before arriving, so that you can set up your payment methods abroad, so that you can arrive with little to no hassle.
How you will need to pay your tuition or student fees depends on the amount and the school's preference. As with housing, you should always ask or find out the preferences of your specific school before you try to pay. Some schools and programs have you pay in advance of your arrival, whereas others will have you pay any outstanding tuition upon arrival.
Some some schools prefer US checks, while others will request a wire transfer or check from your home country bank. Many schools with experience working with foreign nationals have the ability to accept foreign checks, or wire transfers from abroad. Wire transfers, or electronic direct payments, are sometimes a better bet than writing a check from your home country bank, as the funds get to the payee directly and quickly. You will also want to check with your bank about any exchange rate charges that may apply, which will generally help you determine your payment methods abroad.
As far as groceries and other household supplies, you'll generally have three payment methods available to you.