Monday, May 21, 2007

Do you know what an "international money order" is?

See here.

And did you know that it is now impossible (so far as I have been able to determine) to obtain one that is denominated in foreign currency (also called a "foreign currency bank draft") in Pittsburgh?

Until a couple of weeks ago, one could do this at Citizens Bank (for a fee of $5.00). I learned that one could no longer do this when I went to my local branch this morning to try to get said item in British pounds to purchase some reproductions of a manuscript from a library in London. My local branch manager called around and found no other bank in Pittsburgh that does this. The post office across the street informed me that they haven't done foreign currency money orders "in years and years." Travelex--the money exchange folks at the Pittsburgh International Airport--told me that I could call one of their Philadelphia offices and have a bank draft issued and sent to me within 2 business days--how convenient!

I can send a wire transfer (for a fee of $30) so I can still get what I need here. But it will be more expensive for me and less convenient since I have to have further correspondence with London asking for bank branch information, bank account number, etc. I imagine that for some purposes-- E-bay?-- sellers may be reluctant to give out this sort of information. I know I would.

Is it my imagination or is it becoming more difficult--not less--to complete certain kinds of transactions at banks?

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