Friday, July 5, 2013

How to pay nothing in banking fees while traveling abroad

Plastic is a lot lighter
CapitalOne and Charles Schwab -- WOW!

Don't you hate it when you have to go the extra mile (sometimes literally) to find the ATM in your bank's 'network' to avoid fees? Or how about when you're traveling and you have to take out as much cash as possible because credit cards charge you an extra 3-5% just for using them abroad? 

Well, hate no more! There are two easy solutions to avoid the frustrations and headaches with extra banking fees. For those of you with bank accounts in the U.S. who are thinking about traveling abroad, we have found a great way to pay your way around the world. 

It's really easy:

For Credit Cards-
1. Go to CapitalOne and submit an application for their Cash Rewards credit card. What's amazing about this credit card is that it charges no fees whatsoever to use it in or outside the U.S. That means that, yes, for example, if your $30/night hotel accepts credit cards, you only have to pay $30! No extra percentages or fees. Plus- you get 1% back on every purchase. You do have to have a pretty good credit score to qualify for this card so hopefully that won't be a problem for you. Oh yes and another plus, their customer service has been amazing so far and if you spend $500 in the first month you get $100 back (that was the offer we had in 02/2013 and still seems to be valid as of writing). [Editor's note: no, we're not CapitalOne or Charles Schwab salespeople, we're just legitimate fans of this great service and product]

2. Once you have your CapitalOne credit card, make a few purchases a month before you travel so that you can receive a statement. Once you receive a statement, you can set up automatic payments so you don't have to worry about missing payments (and being charged obnoxious penalties).

3. Give CapitalOne a call and let them know where you'll be traveling so they don't suspect anything when you buy that brand new MacBook Air at the Dubai airport. 

For Debit Cards (ATM)-
1. Go to the Charles Schwab website and open a free checking account - no minimum deposit or minimum balance required. They automatically include an investment account as well which you don't even have to use. 

2. Make an initial deposit to 'activate' your account so that your debit card can be sent in the mail. 

3. That's it! You can use your shiny new gold debit card at any ATM anywhere in the world for free! Any ATM fees charged will be removed from your statement usually at the end of each month/banking cycle (we don't even recall seeing the fees though). 

Word of Caution: Make sure you give yourself a solid month and a half before you travel to get your banking errands done!! We didn't and we had to pay rush fees to get our cards. Don't make the same mistake!

Let us know in the comments box below if you have any additional tips or suggestions, especially for banks from other countries.

co-posted on


  1. We have a Chase Sapphire - same thing with no international fees. Plus we get reward points for more travel. You can convert them to miles or use them as cash through Chase's travel website. We've gotten at least 5 free plane tickets in the last 2 years this way. Highly recommend.

  2. We had heard good things about Sapphire, thanks for confirming them! Where did those sweet sweet 5 free plane tickets land you? Sounds like a great deal to me.

  3. We've used them for domestic travel - a $300 plane ticket here, 2 for $700 there....we put the whole wedding/honeymoon on the card, plus use it for most of our everyday purchases. Pay it off in full every month. Use their travel site to book flights - same price as booking direct from the airlines plus you can either redeem points or get a 25% point bonus. We pay $80/year maintenance fee, but since we've been earning/using hundreds of dollars in rewards it's a fair trade! Other bonuses: bought a ticket for the wrong day and they cancelled/reimbursed my non-refundable ticket. Comes with trip/rental car insurance for domestic trips. We've had great experiences all around.

  4. You're giving me some great ideas here, especially for honeymooning! One important difference does seem to be the annual fees with CapitalOne vs Chase. Another important point you bring up is paying the credit card bill in full. I couldn't agree more, it's definitely not worth paying interest.
    Great tips!

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