Jul 192009

I’ve received a couple of requests from blog readers to share some information about banking while traveling around the country in an RV. Hopefully I can offer some useful insight into the topic.

In my seminars for new RVers, I always suggest that while they may have a good relationship with their hometown bank, if it does not have nationwide branches, it may not be able to serve their needs as fulltime RVers. I have always suggested getting an account with one of the big nationwide banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America, which have branches in many different states.

For Terry and myself, operating a business on the road, getting access to our money is never a problem – there are ATM machines in every grocery and discount store in America, and we can get cash back at Wal-Mart, most grocery stores, and even at the post office. Our problem is sometimes getting money into the bank! If we are not in a location where our bank has a branch office, sometimes we have to mail in a deposit, which can be problematic.

Things have gotten easier over the years as technology has improved, but I remember once years ago when we had a successful vending experience at an RV rally and mailed a batch of checks to our bank in Arizona for deposit. The bank officer we worked with was on vacation, so the Priority Mail envelope with our deposit sat unopened on her desk for two weeks until she returned. We actually mailed the deposit from Biloxi, Mississippi and traveled all the way to Phoenix before the deposit was entered into our account! These days our bank has a central mail deposit address we can use, which has simplified things greatly.

A great option for RVers is to join a credit union which belongs to the nationwide Shared Network. This is a network of independent credit unions that work together to serve customers who belong to any member credit union. So if your home credit union is in San Diego, California, for example, you can still transact business at a Shared Network member credit union in Elkhart, Indiana, just as if you were at your own branch back home. With over 3,000 locations nationwide in the Shared Network program, it’s pretty easy to find a member branch anywhere you are traveling.

Membership requirements for credit unions have eased over the years, and it’s not hard to qualify. In fact, if you are a member of the Escapees RV Club, you qualify to join the Community Resource Credit Union in Texas, and can join online. Another benefit of credit union membership is that they are often easier to work with than traditional banks, and because they are there to serve their members, not make a profit, their auto and RV loan rates are usually lower.

These days, with direct deposit, online bill paying, and online banking options to check your balances and transfer money around, and other new technology, many people find that they seldom actually have to go into a bank to transact their financial business. For RVers, that makes like much easier.  

Thought For The Day – We could learn a lot from crayons: Some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and they’re all different colors…. But they all have to learn to live in the same box.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  5 Responses to “Banking On The Road”

  1. Most banks will also allow you to raise your daily limit on your ATM withdrawal so that when you find an ATM without a fee or a small fee you can get more then the standard $250.00. We have ours set at a thousand dollars, we seldom use it but it’s nice to know that it’s available.

  2. We’ve used credit unions exclusively (except for mortgage loans) for nearly 50 years, and have seldom had any problem. The Shared Branching program is a real lifesaver! Like everybody else, credit unions have had to raise some fees, but with on-line deposits, cash-back at the stores, etc., we virtually never have to pay any fees.

    Newbies and Wannabes — banking is not a problem!

  3. Just having something to “put in”/”take out”/”move around” is the *problem*! ;>)

  4. We still live in sticks and bricks and have banked remotely for 12 years. I don’t foresee any change when we travel more.
    Never use ATMs, just Credit Cards for large purchases and get Debit Card cashback for convenience and dining when using Debit Card for small to medium purchases.
    A few years ago our bank started online check deposits via your scanner. Recently our Credit Union also started this. We don’t get many checks so the time to scan is not a big deal. If I had a lot of checks I would mail them in using Business Reply envelopes the bank provided for this. I wouldn’t make deposits online via Wi-FI, but if we fulltimed and had Cell Internet, we would use that.

  5. One of the other solutions for depositing checks from the road is Remote Deposit Capture. More and more banks are offering small business solutions where, with a computer, an internet connection, and low cost check scanner, you can deposit any check, money order, travelers check, etc, drawn on a US bank into your checking account immediately (bank speak for 1-2 business days). While there is a cost for this service it may be small enough that the cost is worth the lack of hassle, delayed mail, and elongated funds availability that mailing your deposit creates. There is even a solution that does this with an Apple iPhone where the camera built into it acts as the scanner.

    John Mayleben

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