Best Debit Cards for International Travel
When traveling abroad there’s some preparation involved. You make sure you have your passport and that is not expired, you check if there’s a Visa required for where you are going, you book your flights, hotel or Airbnb, plus you try to plan your stay there as much as possible. While thing like flights, hotel and some activities can be booked ahead, you most likely will do some spending while you are there as well.
If a credit card is accepted, that is your best option. There’s many credit cards that offer no foreign transaction fees, and even bonus earning on some categories abroad. Make sure to get charged in local currency if you have the option.
But for some purchases or activities you might need cash. You could always bring some cash with you, if you know that you will be needing it, but you also have the option to use ATMs, just like in your own neighborhood. There is one issue though. ATMs usually charge fees, and on top of that there’s foreign truncation fees. You could end up paying $3 to $5 plus a percentage of the withdrawal amount (maybe 2-3%).
But not all banks charge you ATM fees, and there’s also a few of them that don’t have foreign transaction fees either. Having a debit card from these banks is a must for those who travel often. So lets take a look at the best debit cards for international travel.
1. SoFi Money
This is a relatively new offering and it is now the best option for a fee-free account and debit card that you need to have with you when traveling abroad. ATM fees reimbursed worldwide, as long as there is the ATM is displaying the Visa, Plus, or NYCE logo. Plus there are no foreign transaction fees charged from SoFi. There’s a daily withdrawal limit of $615.
There is a 1% foreign exchange fee though from Visa. This fee is also charged from Schwab, but not really disclosed. So you end up paying the same amount with either card.
Where the SoFi card comes ahead at number one for Best Debit Cards for International Travel, is that ATM fees are refunded right away. Plus there’s no hard pull for a new account.
Then there’s a $50 signup bonus and the possibility to earn more with $100 referral bonuses. Now bonus is just $25.
2. Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account
This account has long been the standard for a no-fee debit card abroad. Charles Schwab Bank doesn’t charge you to use an ATM, even ones in foreign countries. The bank refunds all ATM-operator fees at the end of each month. Plus you don’t have to worry about any foreign exchange transaction fees with its Schwab Bank Visa Platinum debit card. There is a 1% fee charged from Visa however. There’s a daily withdrawal limit of $1,000.
This is an account that some people might already have. But one drawback is that it requires a hard pull. However, you can combine one hard pull for the checking and brokerage account, and the latter also makes you eligible for the Schwab Amex Platinum card. It’s a great way to easily cash out your Membership Rewards points at 1.25 cent each.
You can earn a bonus of up to $500 with a new account, if you are referred by a friend.
3. Fidelity Cash Management Account
This is technically a brokerage account, but the cash in the account is kept in an FDIC-insured bank account. It comes with a The account doesn’t have minimum opening or monthly balance requirements, monthly fees or ATM fees. Fidelity will also reimburse you for all ATM fees. However, you’ll have to pay a 1% foreign transaction fee on ATM withdrawals and purchases. There’s a daily withdrawal limit of $500.
This account requires a soft pull, which is the only plus it has compared to the Schwab account. There’s no bonus currently as far as I know. You can see more details on their page here.
4. Capital One 360 Checking Account
This account doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee, minimum opening deposit, monthly balance requirement or monthly service fees. Plus you can go into many of their Capital One branches if you need to.
While Capital One doesn’t charge an ATM fee to withdraw money from an ATM, it won’t reimburse you if the ATM operator charges you a fee. To avoid that, you need to withdraw money from Capital One Bank branded ATM or Allpoint ATMs within the U.S., Canada, U.K., Puerto Rico, Australia or Mexico. There’s plenty of those around.
There’s currently no bonus for this account, but they have offered a targeted $200 bonus in the past.
Chime first came out as a prepaid/reloadable card but it has been since transformed into a full service FDIC insured bank account that offers both a Spending Account and a Savings Account. With their card you get no foreign transaction fees, but you will be charged $2.50 for using a foreign ATM, plus any operator fees. You can withdraw money fee-free at Moneypass ATMs.
The account comes with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.
There’s a $50 bonus for this account when you use a referral. Plus you can earn $50 with every person you refer.