One of the problems most investors come across once they have moved offshore is how to repatriate their offshore funds.
Sending wires directly back to your home bank account could involve dangerous invasions of privacy whereas physically going to your offshore bank and withdrawing cash may also breach customs restrictions and invite the risk of theft.
For larger payments, you could ask your offshore bank to wire funds directly to the vendor but the time and effort this involves would not be appropriate for smaller sums.
It is widely recognized that the easiest way of spending your offshore money is with an offshore credit or debit card. An offshore Visa or Mastercard will allow you access to your offshore funds from pretty much any where in the world. Here are some typical features of offshore cards:
Offshore Credit Card – Almost all good offshore credit cards are secured. This means that along with the offshore credit card application you will have to deposit a certain amount (usually 100-150% of the credit line) to use one. For a credit line of 10,000USD at 150%, you would need to deposit 15,000 USD for example. Although this means that they are not strictly credit cards, it does mean that credit checks are not required as with most onshore credit cards.
Furthermore, you can expect from an offshore credit card the same privileges as for any major credit card such as cash advances, car rental benefits, insurance, and travel freebies.
Unsecured offshore credit cards are not issued by offshore banks except to well-known clients. Due to the global nature of offshore banking, credit checks would be too complicated and the risk of non-payment too great.
The vast majority of ‘unsecured’ offshore credit cards are scams, because such credit lines would simply not be offered without extensive KYC. Most unsuspecting investors who are lured into unsecured credit card schemes end up paying an initial card registration fee and then never hearing from the ‘bank’ or ‘offshore service provider’ again.
Offshore Debit Card – Offshore debit cards function in almost the same way as secured credit cards, the difference being you can only spend what is actually funded on the card. The advantage is that they will offer the same privileges, benefits and worldwide acceptance as a major international credit card.
Where can I Use an Offshore Credit Card?
Although many successfully use their offshore credit cards there are some pitfalls associate with their use. For example a US citizen has recently ended up in court charged with tax evasion because he used his offshore card to buy luxuries in the US with un-taxed dollars from an offshore account.
Many people use offshore credit cards in their home countries, however this man did not count on there being video cameras in 400 of the cash points he visited. It is difficult to disprove video being caught on camera using a card with your name on it.
It is still possible to use offshore credit cards at home as long as certain precautions are taken, and if possible, a corporate or even an un-embossed offshore card is used. A corporate card for example can be used to legally pay for equipment, expenses or employee salaries for your offshore company.
Personal offshore credit cards can still be usefully employed on holiday, or if you travel abroad regularly. Using the card abroad will carry less risk than using it at home, while you can still enjoy the benefits of your tax-free nest egg.
So next time you’re out with your buddies, you can whip out your offshore Visa or Mastercard and graciously pick up the tab….They only have to know that you’re doing so out of the tax savings from your offshore account if you choose to tell them. But be careful, envy is a dangerous thing! 🙂
Capital Conservator has more than a decade of experience in helping people to move and grow their assets offshore. Capital Conservator offers a range of , the most popular being the Platinum card which offers a 10,000EUR daily limit and can be used in 170 countries, 1 million ATMs and 3 million merchants worldwide within the Platinum card network.
Patrick Winters is an offshore banking consultant based in Uruguay, South America. He writes and advises for offshore banking house Capital Conservator. The Capital Conservator Group has more than a decade of experience helping people to transfer and protect their assets offshore.