Travel Hack: Avoiding ATM fees with an American Bank account

Unless you have a local bank account in whatever country you’re visiting, you’re going to encounter ATM fees.
If you have an American bank you encounter the extra conflict of not having a chip in your card (which most of the world utilizes now) AND many of these banks applying an added percentage fee for currency conversion.
However, after shopping around I discovered an American bank that offers a card with a chip and reimburses you for any ATM fees at the end of the month.
Charles Schwab bank, with a High Yield Investor Checking Account (which you can apply for on the web, here).
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This account begins as a web account, meaning that you have to transfer money into an individual account in order to receive a debit card. You can ask a representative to do this for you when you open an account, or you can click on the ‘Transfer’ tab and begin the wireless transfer.
1. You control the amount of money that is readily available on your debit card at any time.
Which can be helpful if you know you are trying to manage your money efficiently, but also, if you lose the card for any reason you aren’t risking all of your money at once.
You manage this online and the wireless transfers between your Brokerage account (which comes with the Investor Checking) and your Individual accounts take (at most) a day, on average. Which is fully dependent upon the time that you are applying for the transfer.
2. You can attach external bank accounts to this bank, which allows you to continue to funnel money into your Schwab account without having to deal with pesky ATM fees or trying to do the footwork to go from location to location for a deposit. However, the only drawback is that sometimes it takes 2-4 days for an external withdraw to be fully deposited into your Schwab account. You can apply to have an external account added by visiting a location and filling out the necessary paperwork.


1. No minimum to open an account, and no minimum for the account to remain active.
2. They offer paperless bank statements, which will funnel these statements into your inbox instead of your mailbox.
3. The debit card provided is a Platinum Visa with a chip (the chip looks a lot like a micro-SIM)
4. They have great Customer Service. Regardless of what my random question has been (including highlights like: “how do I transfer money into my account?” [there’s a transfer tab…] and the notorious, “why are my funds on hold?” calls), they’ve always been really patient and helpful.


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