Before you leave home with just your ATM card, however, make sure that the Cirrus, Maestro or PLUS networks are readily available where you’re going. While these networks are increasingly common overseas, they are still only available at a limited number of banks in some countries. Each network has an online locator to help you find international ATMs:
4. Citibank: With numerous international locations, customers can avoid fees by withdrawing money from Citi-branded ATM’s. Citibank actually has branches abroad, with over 4,000 locations in more than forty countries. To find out whether your destination is included, go to this page. Asia-Pacific travelers can also visit Find My Citi. If you can’t find a location in your destination, non-Citibank ATM withdrawals outside the US result in a $2 fee plus the 3% international transaction charge you always get hit with, though both of those are waived for Citigold members. Detailed fee information is available here. Per the Citibank foreign ATM info page, foreign withdrawals are fee-free for Citibank customers when they use a Citibank branded ATM or an ATM found at MoneyPass or Publix Food Stores, and fee-free altogether for Citigold clients.

Although American Express cards are accepted in a lot of places, you will find a lot of merchants that do not accept Amex outside of the United States. You’ll be able to use your American Express cards almost anywhere in the world at large hotel chains and other international travel providers, but don’t expect to use an Amex at a local restaurant or store.
Neither the brokerage nor checking account has a minimum account balance, so I leave my brokerage account balance at zero because I am only planning on using the checking account for its ATM benefits (Sarah Page: I’ve also done the same in the past, but a reader commented on this post on 6/27 that his account was closed for lack of a balance over a significant period of time, so you may want to maintain a small balance). Here’s a little more info about the two linked accounts:
I have been using the Schwab debit card for years and am very satisfied. You also get this card if you open a brokerage acct with them. When I was in Colombia, it was the *only* card that would work to get money from at ATM there… and I had 4 ATM cards from various banks. Wells, BofA, Etrade… none of them worked. I know that Schwab refunds the fee from the ATM, but I try to only use ATMs that don’t charge fees because I don’t want Schwab to discontinue this feature.
Capitalone360.com checking also has 0 international atm fees and no fee for currency conversion. I opened an account and used it in hong kong, macau, and thailand in november and can confirm the no fees and good exchange rate. It also has no minimum. I had a similar problem with high dollar withdrawals in macau even though the amount was below the daily minimum? Perhaps has something to do with the country, or that it was a casino atm?

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