Best Ways to Avoid ATM Fees for International Travel

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by cmj542, Jul 16, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. cmj542
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    cmj542 Silver Member

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    I did a bit of research online and correct me if I'm wrong, but is this the best option for an ATM Checking account for Americans for international travel? I just graduated from grad school, so I don't have tons of funds to meet the minimum account requirement for fee waivers.

    Thought I'd start a thread because I don't think there's a comprehensive one on Milepoint yet. Please respond w/ suggestions, input!

    My Suggestion: Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking (http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/home/account_types/brokerage/schwab_one_with_ic.html)
    • Minimum Opening Cost - $0
    • Account Service Fees - $0
    • Opening Requirements - Us Resident 18 or over
    • No ATM fees and reimburses any ATM fee charged worldwide
    • Free standard checks, free online billpay, and Visa Plat Check card
    Good Sources for Reference


    List of major banks that have ATM partnerships where you can avoid fees

    • Bank of America (United States)
    • Barclays (England, Wales, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and certain countries in Africa)
    • BNP Paribas (France, Ukraine)
    • China Construction Bank (China)
    • Deutsche Bank (Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal and Italy)
    • Santander Serfin (Mexico)
    • Scotiabank (Canada, Caribbean, Peru, Chile and Mexico)
    • Westpac (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands)
    • ABSA (South Africa)
    • UkrSibbank (Ukraine)
     
  2. HiIslands
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    HiIslands Silver Member

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    I would add HSBC to your list of major banks that have ATM partnerships without fees. Their cards use Cirrus or Maestro networks, and fees are waived for the first three ATM transactions/month. I have also found HSBC's own ATM's in such diverse places as Cambodia, Taiwan, Mexico and Viet Nam.

    https://www.us.hsbc.com/1/2/3/personal?home=personal
     
  3. goodandclassy
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    goodandclassy Silver Member

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    Ally and Compass banks also have free (Compass requires a reasonable minimum balance) ATM transactions, plus fee reimbursements.

    I would recommend Ally over compass because the fee refund is automatic. Compass, especially if you are int he south, is a decent bank as well...
     
  4. The added benefit of Schwab is how incredibly competent all of their phone agents are. Worlds ahead of the airline agents most of us are used to dealing with. Additionally, the new mobile phone apps allow instant deposits of checks--I originally opened this as a secondary account, but now its so easy I think its becoming my primary go to.
     
  5. BurBunny
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    BurBunny Silver Member

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    Be aware, however, that even though the above may be "fee free" that's just for the use of the ATMs and doesn't factor in Forex fees specifically. You also need to have a forex free account type.

    Take a look at CapitalOne's High Yield Money Market. No forex fees, $1 opening balance, free ACH transfers from other banks. I've not had any service charges for using international ATMs on mine, though I do only use bank ATMs, not those from third parties.
     
  6. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    With some of these checking account products, you should be aware that technically they're money market funds and not bank accounts. This means, in particular, that they're not insured by FDIC or subject to the regulations that apply to commercial banks. You have fewer consumer protections when using such accounts.
     
    Million Mile Secrets likes this.
  7. RedTape
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    RedTape Silver Member

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    My credit union checking account ATM card has no fees for using others' machines, though they don 't reimburse for use of machines at places like Skank of America. I've never been charged a fee where the operator doesn't charge a fee (which only seems to be widely done in the US, but very few places elsewhere). And unlike Skank of America, there isn't a 3% foreign transaction fee.
     
  8. ChicagoEric
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    ChicagoEric Silver Member

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    Citigold is a nice product if you qualify - no forex fees, atm fees reimbursed, AAdvantage miles on debit purchaces, etc...
     
  9. cmj542
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    cmj542 Silver Member

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    According to Flyerguide, for Ally Bank, "as of June 18, 2011, the revised fee schedule excludes international ATM transactions from those that are reimbursed. $500/day limit on ATM withdrawals, cash advances, and POS cash back; additional $2,500/day limit on purchases. Fee may be less than 1% on ATM transactions processed over the Star network." I couldnt find anything on the Ally site that confirmed this though (https://www.ally.com/bank/interest-checking-account/index.html?CP=ppc110390#tabs=fees). Ally does look like a fantastic option.

    Also, another benefit to Schwab is that Schwab supposedly doesn't charge the 1% currency conversion fee that most banks charge (http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/...rl/topic/68797/brokerage-conversion-fees.html).

    I really wish I had done my research when I studied abroad in Europe. I was pretty much dead broke, and I stupidly had only an Amex and a Bank of America atm card. Those conversion fees and those atm fees add up very quickly and I could've used a few more bucks per week.
     
  10. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    I still have my State Farm Bank ATM card (PLUS network) tied in with my checking account with them. No forex fee, transactions at bank rate, and ATM transaction fees are reimbursed. I've been with them around 4 years now. I have an account that requires a $2,500 minimum balance, but looking at their web site they have another account that only requires a $100 minimum with direct deposit. I think the only difference is that the account with a higher minimum draws interest.
    http://www.statefarm.com/bank/checking/checking.asp

    I deliberately set up my account without a debit card. They've contacted me since asking if I want that feature added but I've declined. Have plenty of credit cards so zero need for a debit card. Does not impact the ATM card at all.
     

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