By now we all know to look out for foreign transaction fees on the credit cards that we use while traveling abroad – no one likes paying a 3% premium simply to make everyday purchases just because you’re not doing so in the US. But what might slip your mind is whether or not your ATM card will charge you fees for withdrawing cash abroad, which can be equally if not more onerous than the fees credit cards charge. In fact, it can actually be two charges – a flat ATM use fee of $2-5, and a transaction fee that’s usually a percentage of 1-3% of the withdrawal. So you can really save by knowing what your bank charges.
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Whether you’re simply crossing the border to Canada or Mexico, or heading to Europe, Asia or elsewhere around the globe, the best credit cards for international travel are accepted nearly everywhere and do not charge foreign currency transaction fees—sometimes called FX fees. Even better, some offer 24/7 international concierge service. Here are our picks—all require excellent credit:
6. First Republic Bank: Their ATM Rebate Checking account offers free use of more than 800,000 ATMs worldwide, unlimited ATM access, and even interest on balances above $3,500. ATM withdrawal fees are refunded from other banks worldwide and international card usage fees are waived. There are free ATM withdrawals to available limits as well. You must have a minimum opening balance of $500 and minimum average balance of $3,500 to avoid monthly fees.
If you do have to use a bank card, it pays to call when you get home and register your complaint about these fees. Wells Fargo always credits me the entire amount when I call them to gripe about it. Same goes for Amex if they are charging overseas transaction fees; they know what the competition is doing so they rebate the fees with a simple phone call.
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The Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE: SCHW) has a high-yield investor checking account that tops the list for the best checking accounts with reimbursed ATM fees. Schwab offers unlimited reimbursement for any ATM fees incurred worldwide. Free bill pay, standard checks, a Visa debit card, mobile deposit and 24/7 U.S.-based customer service are all included. As of 2018, individuals with this checking account earned a 0.35% variable interest rate on any balance. There are no monthly minimums or service fees. The account must link to a free Schwab One brokerage account. Schwab operates branch offices in almost every major city throughout the United States.