How do you put together the finances for your travels, long-term or short-term? What do you sacrifice in order to save up the necessary cash? What's your best money-saving tip on the road? Share your money tips - and pick up a few - right here.

Best bank account for Travelers?

excuse the dust

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Tags: bank, money, best, cash, fees
  • Added on: March 31st, 2011
I've been hunting around for bank accounts which do not charge international ATM use fees or conversion fees in countries outside of it's origin. My current bank charges $5 per transaction plus 3% to convert it to foreign currency.
While I don't like it, I'm willing to take a fee hit at a local ATM as long as my domestic bank doesn't charge them.
I already have a capital one credit card, but I'd like a way to pull our some cash. I've heard about Schwab's checking account though I'm interested in hearing about others.

vagabondette74

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  • Added on: March 31st, 2011
Go for a credit union. Big banks suck. I've used my credit union account in over a dozen countries and I've only ever paid local ATM fees and get a great conversion rate.

Alternatively if you are traveling primarily in one region you can see if there is a US bank that has a presence there or has a sister bank that won't charge you. Or if you'll be there for a while you can open a local account.

For example, when I lived in Switzerland I opened an account with Credit Suisse for my salary to be deposited into and, now that I'm living full-time in Mexico I'll be opening a HSBC account here for my pesos income but I'll be able to use it in the US as well if I have to. I hate opening a new account with a company like HSBC but since they started charging for ATM transactions down here I have no choice plus I'll be earning in pesos and I don't want to keep large amounts of cash on hand.
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!

EMH

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  • Added on: March 31st, 2011
excuse the dust wrote:I've been hunting around for bank accounts which do not charge international ATM use fees or conversion fees in countries outside of it's origin. My current bank charges $5 per transaction plus 3% to convert it to foreign currency.
While I don't like it, I'm willing to take a fee hit at a local ATM as long as my domestic bank doesn't charge them.
I already have a capital one credit card, but I'd like a way to pull our some cash. I've heard about Schwab's checking account though I'm interested in hearing about others.


I can wholeheartedly recommend Charles Schwab checking. They don't have their own ATMs but they refund all ATMs fees. I've used it in the US, Central America and Colombia and all of my fees have been returned, no problem.
Follow my travels through Central and South America: www.talesofagringo.com

excuse the dust

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  • Added on: April 1st, 2011
Thanks all!

Waiks

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  • Added on: April 1st, 2011
The Schwab account can't be beat. On my current trip I've had $100+ in ATM fees refunded to me. It's great to not have to worry about that when on the road. Plus, there is actually a small amount of interest that you earn.

Along the same lines, there are some good Chase credit cards that have recently waived the international processing fees.

excuse the dust

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  • Added on: April 2nd, 2011
Schwab seems to be the most recommended for (US based) traveler no matter where I look. Do I have to open an investment account, too? I don't mind, but I'd rather leave my investments where they are and not have to contribute to another account.

I didn't know about the Chase cards! Any particular recommendation?

mrdarcys_cravat

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  • Added on: April 2nd, 2011
Any advice for Canadians? From what I can find, Schwab mainly deals with US clients. I know that a few years back, Citizens Bank was the best choice, but they've since stopped opening accounts.
Europe for 3 months, Summer '11: http://theelephantvanishes.wordpress.com/

EMH

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  • Added on: April 2nd, 2011
excuse the dust wrote:Schwab seems to be the most recommended for (US based) traveler no matter where I look. Do I have to open an investment account, too? I don't mind, but I'd rather leave my investments where they are and not have to contribute to another account.

I didn't know about the Chase cards! Any particular recommendation?


Yes you do but you don't actually have to put any money in the investment account.

You can also open a savings account which will give you a second debit card (just in case anything happens to the checking ATM card). And the two accounts are automatically linked so you can easily move money back and forth. And if I remember correctly there are no minimum balance requirements for either account.
Follow my travels through Central and South America: www.talesofagringo.com

2wanderers

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  • Added on: April 3rd, 2011
mrdarcys_cravat wrote:Any advice for Canadians? From what I can find, Schwab mainly deals with US clients. I know that a few years back, Citizens Bank was the best choice, but they've since stopped opening accounts.

I've done a lot of research into this. I ended up choosing my local credit union, which has a fee structure pretty much the same as most bank, but 1/2 the price. ($4/month, $2.50/international withdrawal) Also, I get a dividend every year which partially covers those costs. (Once I move the mortgage, the dividend will exceed any service charges.)

However, the lowest fees I found were with ICICI. They offer $1.50 withdrawals internationally on their standard account ($5/month, but waived with $500 balance or a single direct deposit paycheque). ING Direct's new chequing service isn't far behind at $2/international withdrawal, and you're unlikely to ever encounter a fee for anything else. Like a few banks, ICICI also offers a premium account with free international withdrawals, but the $10/month fee is much lower than most other banks charge for that level of service.

I opted for the credit union mostly because I was frustrated by getting burned when Citizen's Bank closed operations...my account had only been open with them for 8 or 9 months, and moving banks is a huge hassle. Servus is well established and not going anywhere, and I must admit that having a brick and mortar branch to go to is nice sometimes.

excuse the dust

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  • Added on: May 31st, 2011
I just wanted to thank everyone again for the suggestions (and keep those non-us suggestions coming for others!). I opened a Charles Schwab account and received my ATM card in the mail today. I'm so excited! No more bank fees!

Azdo

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  • Added on: June 2nd, 2011
I just opened one too!



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