These Checking Accounts Allow Free International ATM Use

by Anna

One of the most common concerns I often have when I’m going to an unfamiliar region is how to get cash. Do I need to exchange dollars at my local bank at home? Do I go to one of the exchange kiosks at the airport? What do I do to avoid exorbitant foreign exchange and ATM fees?

When I first started traveling internationally 20 years ago, I had no idea there were banks that didn’t charge foreign transaction and ATM fees. I remember trying to figure out how much cash I needed before I left home to minimize going to the ATM too often during my trip.

Only after I’ve met my husband, who already had Schwab checking account, I learned about banks that didn’t have these fees.

Unless traveling to hard to reach destinations, or a country where the modern banking system is almost non-existent, you don’t need to bring cash with you. Any modern airport or train station will have at least a couple ATMs where you can withdraw cash. What you do need, is a bank account that doesn’t have ATM fees, doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and has good currency conversion rates.

While there are a few U.S. banks that offer free ATM cash withdrawals to their best and most profitable customers, these three checking accounts have no minimum balance requirements and no account maintenance fees.

Euros

Schwab Bank

Schwab has no physical bank locations and has a very generous ATM use policy. One of the benefits of free High Yield Investor Checking account is ATM fee reimbursement. Schwab doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, there are no minimum deposits required to open an account and there are no monthly fees.

Schwab has an excellent mobile app that lets you do all the usual banking transactions, including mobile check deposits. It’s very easy to open High Yield Investor Checking account if you have Schwab One brokerage account. The brokerage account also doesn’t have any minimum deposit or minimum balance requirements.

Use this link to open new Schwab account to get $100 bonus. The new account bonus is available via referral link only. I receive no compensation from Schwab and I will get no referral bonuses if you use this link.

Schwab is a personal favorite of mine, I’ve banked with them for almost 20 years. Customer service is outstanding – a few times I had to talk to someone on the phone, a knowledgeable representative based in the U.S. answers the call in a matter of seconds.

Fidelity

Fidelity Cash Management Account is technically a brokerage account but the cash portion is FDIC insured. There are no minimum balances and no account management fees. Fidelity, like Schwab, will reimburse the ATM fees. There is, however 1% foreign transaction fee on ATM withdrawals. The fee is much lower than industry standard 3% fee.

Capital One

The Capital One 360 Checking Account doesn’t have minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. There are no ATM fees if you use 360 Checking MasterCard Debit Card. Capital One doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees on ATM withdrawals. However, Capital One doesn’t reimburse the fees charged by the ATM owners. ATM owner fees can be as high as $3 a transaction.

Final Thoughts

Being able to to get cash abroad with no fees and to withdraw small amounts, as needed, is very important, especially when visiting a few countries in a short period of time. Nobody wants to leave a country with a lot of unused currency if there are plan to come back any time soon.

With an access to an account with no ATM and no foreign transaction fees, there is no worrying about exchanging currency ahead of time. It’s easy to withdraw enough cash to last the next few days.

I would never use a credit cards to withdraw cash from an ATM. The credit card company will charge foreign exchange fees, ATM fees and cash advance fees. Cash withdrawals don’t earn any credit card rewards. My favorite cards to use for for all the non-cash purchases I make when traveling, are card with no foreign transaction fees, including Chase Sapphire Preferred card or Platinum Card from American Express.

 

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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5 comments

DaninMCI December 21, 2018 - 2:17 pm

Some other banks have agreements with certain chains to offer international ATM fee free transactions. I think BofA does this as well as several others. It’s a deep subject.

Reply
HockeyCoachBen December 21, 2018 - 2:46 pm

Why are all the travel experts & bloggers sleeping on Denizen app/Denizen Financial? They’re a BBVA affiliate bank and have 0% fees, current market rates, etc on debit/credit transactions processed anywhere in the world. They also reimburse or eliminate at the ATM all fees domestically and internationally. Ever since I signed up for them about 6-months ago, they are my #1 go-to bank for cash and debit transactions internationally. They even have agreements with some world-wide ATM networks to eliminate the fees right at the ATM machine, not afterwards (but they will reimburse all fees charged as well). You should give them a look! (Not an ad and they don’t offer referral bonuses.)

Reply
John W December 21, 2018 - 2:56 pm

You are missing one that I’ve been using. TD bank has a checking account that has no out-of-network ATM fee, no foreign transaction fee, and will reimburse the fee charged by the owner.

You do have to maintain a min balance of $2500, but i think it’s totally worth having an account open with them. I rarely carry cash when I travel abroad. And this has been super convenient.

Reply
priscillA December 22, 2018 - 1:43 pm

what about chase Saphire? no ATN fees, but they want you to keep 75K balance ( although it can be invested through their platform and no fees for investment either)

Reply
Boraxo December 22, 2018 - 2:02 pm

This is a pretty superficial post with little research. As noted above there are many options behind the 3 mentioned. Many banks have fee free atm + reimbursement, eg CitiGold, Chase Private Client. Also hard to find network atms in some countries. Also atm-only cards (no visa logo) which many of us prefer don’t always work overseas. Maybe cross-ref to flyertalk master thread.

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