No fees ATM/currency exchange account
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Aug 12, 2012 8:02 AM Last Post By: travelinstyle46
Aug 3, 2012 10:05 AM
No fees ATM/currency exchange accountI will be working abroad again:
- US employer
- paid in dollars in US account
- wife in Europe who will also use account
Which banks or accounts are appropriate for getting money out of ATMs in Africa and Europe with low or no fees on transaction, including withdrawal fee and forex fee?
I have lived overseas for a long time so I don't need feedback on bringing allot of cash, getting money out in the largest amount possible, etc.
Aug 4, 2012 7:40 AM
1There are plenty of threads on how to handle money while overseas/travelling carollins. Have you done a search here for them?
Until recently, for US residents, Capitol One offered fee free transactions and no loading on the exchange but that has changed. What this points out is that the only way to know what is the best way today to handle your money is to do the research today. Yesterday's news is already out of date.
A search here however will probably give you some starting points for further research.
Aug 4, 2012 5:23 PM
Until I started backpacking around the world in March I worked for on of the top 3 banks in the US (corporate side)
I will tell you any of the bigger banks will normally charge you 5% plus $5 for every transaction out of an ATM abroad, but you probably know that.
Before we left on our RTW trip I did a lot of research and found a bank that not only will not charge me any conversion or "foreign atm" fees any ATM that does not belong to that bank, but I actually found a bank that will repay us any fees that are charged by the foreign ATM bank.
Sound too good to be true? It's not tough if you know where to look.
I'm not sure where you are from originally, so I'm not sure about European banks, but in the US you should focus your research on small to medium sized banks. "Community Bank" in the title is usually a good place to start.
Stay away from top banks though, their banking packages do not have any wiggle room. Smaller banks are more interested in what package is best for you and have the time to really tailor one to your banking needs.
Plus you'll get fantastic customer support.
Aug 5, 2012 1:21 PM
Aug 7, 2012 6:58 PM
4I will second Charles Schwab. They always reimburse my ATM fees. And there is no minimum balance requirement. Free to use the card as an ATM card or a debit card. Used it in AUS, Europe, Mongolia and China. I think it's safe to say it works worldwide.
Dont use Chase Bank for anything, unless you like paying stupid fees.
Aug 9, 2012 6:55 PM
5Just saw an advert in a magazine for a Marriott Credit Card. The card have zero international transaction fees and it accrues points which you can use at Marriott hotels.
Actually, I could see using that card during a whole RTW, than using up the points to stay at a Marriott for however many days you earned up on the last leg. That would be a welcome reward for those of us living in hostels.
Anyway, and more importantly, it has no overseas transaction fees. I would check into that.
Aug 10, 2012 4:16 PM
6Bank of America is a partner in Global ATM Alliance along with a number of European banks. See Wifipedia for a list of the banks' ATM that don't charge fees. ATMs also give you the best exchange rate.
Aug 11, 2012 2:10 PM
7travelin, Today I withdrew fund and got 13.07 pesos to the dollar. Reuters quote was 13.08, OANDA was 13.07, and XE was 13.11. How could I go wrong? That and BofA doesn't ding me with any other fees (or whatever you want to call them), simply the withdrawn amount.
Sure I'd love to change banks but not for the ATM reasons you believe. It is really difficult, if not impossible, to open an US bank account without an address in the US and being a resident of another country.
How deep in the sand are you?
Aug 11, 2012 5:17 PM
8That is certainly the Interbank Rate joaquinx, can't argue with that. It does however appear to be totally contrary to what it says on B of A's own site I linked above. That says they charge 3% on purchases. Wikitravel shows them as charging 3% on purchases and 1% +$5 per transaction at ATMs. So it certainly appears that something isn't adding up. http://money.wikia.com/wiki/Foreign_Exchange_fees_on_bank_cards_and_credit_cards
I am not an expert on US banks and can go only by what I have found here on the TT and from checking some of the banks own websites. I am much more familiar with Canadian and UK banks.
I can tell you that in all the discussions on this subject here on the TT (100s) no one has ever tried to say that B of A doesn't charge anything. So while I don't doubt at all what you say, I am still sceptical that there is a hidden charge going somewhere at some point.
If by deep in the sand you mean 'knee deep in sand on a Panama beach, I'm not anywhere sandy at present. I retired in my early 40s and that was 23 years ago. Since then I've lived in half a dozen countries only one of which (Greece) could really be called 'sandy'.
As a result, dealing with money and exchange is something I have become very familiar with through necessity. I currently use a UK bank's cards when travelling. 100% fee free and the exchange is the Interbank Rate. I currently live in Canada and cannot get anything near that here.
Aug 11, 2012 5:32 PM
9The 3%, I believe is for credit cards not debit cards. Here in Mexico, where a large number of US expats live, BofA seems to be a popular choice and not because they love the bank. At Santander and Scotia ATMs, BofA debit cards are not charged fee from the local bank or the usual 5 usd fee that BofA adds to their monthly statement. There is an usual 1% fee that is hidden in the exchange rate. I don't know where BofA gets their exchange rate as most of the time it hits right on the mark of the interbank rate. At other times, the rate can vary from say 13.30 as the interbank rate to 13.10 or even a bit lower. That can be quite a bit of cash difference if your paying for dinner, but if your withdrawing funds for rent, food, etc, it's not that big a difference.
I understand you deep association with exchange rates and as anyone living abroad knows: you head to the ATM when the exchange rate favors you.
Sorry about the sand bit, it's referring to those who move slowly as walking in sand, especially in altering one's opinions.
Aug 11, 2012 9:13 PM
10Thanks for the diversity of interesting posts.
I had searched the forums before my original posting, however I did not find the interesting 'Universal' thread. I am glad to have received very current information, as I know these things change all the time. I had found the Schwab option in other online searching, and I will look further into it after the positive reviews here.
Aug 12, 2012 8:02 AM
11If you look at the site I linked in #12 joaquinx, you will see three columns for ATM, Debit card purchase and Credit card purchase. For B of A, both debit and credit card purchase shows 3%. For ATM it shows 1% + $5.
So that seems to agree with the 1% you now say you are paying on exchange. Using your cards to purchase is of course costing you 3%.
There are cards that will cost 0% whether using them in an ATM or to make a purchase. All I'm trying to say here is there are better deals out there if you look for them. I would not want to give up even 1% of my annual spending to a bank just for using their cards. In fact, I prefer it if they give ME 1% 'cash back' on my spending.
When at home here in Canada I use a Canadian card that pays me 1% of the total I spend on anything. I don't pay for anything over $10 in cash. It all goes on my card so at the end of the month there is a healthy amount on it. I then pay the balance in full of course before any interest gets added. About 6 months ago they called to say that as we were doing a fair amount of business on our card we were being moved up to a 2% return. In the last 18 months or so my wife estimates we have gained/saved $800 using this card.
When travelling as I said, our UK cards cost us 0%. I could use the Canadian card and still get 2% on it but they will charge me 4% on exchange so that isn't going to happen.
I look at credit cards as a way to SAVE money. My money sits earning daily interest while the bank waits 42 days or whatever to get their money from me.
The bank I use for savings is different from the banks my cards are from. We save in a bank that pays the highest daily interest I can find.
I use a 'main street' Canadian bank for chequing. It is fee free for senior citizens, which I now am. All my direct debit bill paying is done from that account while all income goes directly into the bank we use for savings. If we move, all we have to do is close the chequing account rather than go through the hassle of stopping each individual direct payment. (Is this one of the reasons it is not so easy for you to change banks?)
The Canadian card as I say now pays us 2% on all purchases. If I buy gas at the supermarket pumps (that's who the card is from) I get a 4 cent per litre discount and the 2% credit on top of that. It also gives me free rental car insurance for up to 30 days per trip if I use it to rent a car.
My UK card give me free travel insurance for up to 30 days if I use it to pay for flights.
My wife's drug store points card provides 3 days free travel insurance if we want to cross-border shop. A lot of people don't realize they have car insurance when the cross the border but that's all. No medical. So an accident can make that little cross border jaunt so many Canadians like to make, real expensive, real quick.
My point is that I look at each type of use and try to find the best way to handle each individually. I do not believe it is possible to find one bank and/or one account to do everything with. I spend perhaps an hour a week managing our banking and doing the research to keep up to date on changes. In 23 years I have changed them a lot of times believe me.
Now for a little pleasant reminiscing joaquinx. When I lived in Greece (for 7 years) I found out that Greek government bonds were paying 21% (yes, 21%) and moved money into them. Not only were they paying 21% but you could buy and hold in foreign currency (meaning when you redeemed them you did not have to worry about exchange rates) and the income was TAX FREE! What a deal. When I left Greece they were down to a miserable 12%.
I withdrew all I had in them when I moved to Scotland (and got married) and put it into a house. When we left Scotland 6.5 years later, we sold the house for over 100% profit. Around 125% actually. Ah, those were good times before the recession.
Anyway, my point is that it pays to find the best way to deal with your money and as an expat it is even more important. I'd hardly say I am walking in sand at all.
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