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Why One Listener Loves U.S. Banks

Listener T.S. writes:

Dear Planet Money,

You asked at the end of your podcast, "Is there anyone out there who just really loves America's banking system?"

Yes, I do. I think America's banking system is AMAZING! And not just my bank. Every bank. The whole system is just fantastic!

I'm an American expat living in Argentina for the last six years and I can assure you, the American banking system is wonderful! Here are just a few anecdotes of what ordinary people have to put up with when they bank here in Argentina:

  • Think your credit card interest rate is too high? Mine is 66.29%.
  • Does your bank close early or doesn't open on Saturdays? Banks in Argentina are open just five hours daily from 10 AM to 3 PM. And forget about Saturdays. Monday through Friday only.
  • To open an account you have to bring in your photo ID, proof of address (a utility bill), and a copy of your salary receipt. Then they photocopy everything, send it to the central office, and within 1-2 weeks they'll let you know if you've been approved for an account. When I open an account in the US, I go with my drivers license and within 15 minutes I'm out of there and with a free toaster to boot.
  • There is a 0.6% tax on all bank movements! When my company pays my $1000 salary into my bank account and then I pay my rent for $1000, I get taxed twice for $6 each time. Every single transaction generates a 0.6% tax.
  • The government can take funds from your account at any time, and without a court order. What's worse is that people here don't seem to think that is weird.
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I could go on and on. There is no end to just how bad the banks are here. I had to stop myself because I would be writing all night long.

So, yes, American banks rule. Stop complaining. You have no idea just how bad things are other places.

-T.S.