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Best Debit Card for Travel

Traveling overseas can be an exciting experience, but navigating foreign currencies and transactions fees can be daunting. Fear not! Here are the best debit cards for international travel, ensuring seamless transactions and peace of mind.

picture of debit cards and bag and sunglasses for travel

Charles Schwab Investor Checking Account:

Backed by renowned Charles Schwab, this checking account is my absolute favorite account for international use. They offer zero foreign transaction fees and reimbursement of ATM fees worldwide. With no minimum balance requirements and a competitive interest rate, this is my top pick! Since I started my #adultgapyear I have saved $288.25 in ATM fees, not to mention foreign conversion fees.


Capital One 360 Checking:

Another option with no foreign transaction fees is the Capital One 360 Checking. They offer a vast network of fee-free ATMs, with a mobile app to help manage your finances on the go. 24/7 customer service makes it easy to stay in touch if you need anything during your travels.


Ally Bank Interest Checking Account:

If you haven’t already decided to open another account, check out Ally Bank, which offers no foreign transaction fees and ATM fee reimbursements up to $10 per statement cycle. They don’t offer a brick-and-mortar location but do protect against overdrafts.


Bank of America Checking:

As a longtime Bank of America user, I keep this checking account and debit card for back up use when I travel. They offer a $0 liability guarantee that protects you from unauthorized charges. While they do charge foreign transaction fees, they partner with various banks around the world for free ATM withdrawals.  


Tips for Overseas ATM use:


Never accept the conversion rate set by the local bank. It will always be worse than your own bank. When you are at a foreign ATM you will not have an option about their transaction fees, but you can decline the conversion rate used by the local bank.


In South America, I often faced additional charges for using my credit card (5-10% on top of the original bill). If you’re like me, you hate having to pay to play, so when this happens, I just use cash to pay for the transaction. Other backpackers often asked me, “why are you paying cash when the ATM fees are 8-12%?” But remember, if you have a Charles Schwab checking account, then the fees get reimbursed at the end of the month, so paying with cash will always save you money in these cases.


Remember to notify your bank of travel plans beforehand to avoid any potential disruptions. With the right debit card in hard, you can focus on making unforgettable memories and not worry about your finances. For more information, check out my top tips to manage your finances while traveling. Bon voyage!


The material found on Lifetime Tidbits is not an advertisement or solicitation for business, and my personal experience does not constitute universal application. Information is for informational and recreational purposes only. Each financial situation is unique, and you should do your own due diligence. Please see my Disclaimers Page for more information. Thank you for reading!

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