Being able to use an ATM card to access your money just about anywhere in the world has made traveling sooo much easier than the old days when you had to deal with the hassles and headaches of exchanging money via travelers checks. I’m still amazed at how even seemingly remotes towns in third world countries will often have ATM machines that accept cards from all over the globe. However, as many of you may already know, the transaction fees can sometimes be pretty horrendous depending on which ATM card you bring with you. So it’s definitely worth trying to make sure the one you use doesn’t end up costing you any more money than necessary. Why potentially waste $50, $100 or more on these fees? I’m thinking that money would be better spent on something like a nice meal somewhere or a hotel room or whatever.
Having said all that, up until very recently Shelley and I had a great thing going with our ATM cards from Capital One. It was great – no fees for using another bank’s ATM and no international transaction fees when we were overseas. But that is all in the process of changing. As of May 22 Cap One charges a $2 fee for all non-Cap One ATM transactions. That’s actually not so bad, but starting August 15 they are also going to charge an additional 3% for any international transactions. In my book, Cap One’s ATM cards went from great to pretty terrible. Luckily Cap One still doesn’t charge any international transaction fees for using their credit cards overseas, and hopefully that will remain the case.
So now we are figuring out the best way or ways to use ATM’s when we travel, especially when we travel internationally. Chase is just about the worst with a 3% international transaction fee along with a $5 per transaction fee on top of that, and Bank of America is almost as bad with a 1-3% international transaction fee along with a $5 per transaction fee. Yikes! Both of those are pretty expensive, especially if you like to take out smaller amounts of money at a time, i.e. have more trips to the ATM.
From what I’ve been reading, here are a couple of things to consider. First, it sounds like you can open a Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account with no monthly services fees, no account minimum, and unlimited fee rebates from any ATM in the world. That’s impressive! And another possible solution might just be your local credit union. From what I’ve been reading, lots of people use their ATM card from their credit union when traveling, and the rates can be quite reasonable. For instance I saw several people say that their credit union only charges them a 1% international transaction fee and there isn’t any per transaction fee. I personally think a 1% fee is pretty reasonable, and I wouldn’t mind paying that for the great convenience of using ATM’s. So if you already belong to a credit union or have easy access to one, you might give them a call to see what their ATM fees are when you are on the road.
Do any of you have any other suggestions for saving money on ATM fees? If so, we would all like to hear from you.