When traveling to a country with a different currency, exchanging your money at a good rate (or the best rate) is one of the main priorities for all travelers, whether you're on a budget or not.
This is not always the easiest task to accomplish, especially when currency exchange locales constantly fluctuate their exchange rates to make sure you're on the losing end of the deal. Alternatively, debit and credit card companies will charge a foreign transaction fee that will typically vary between a 2% and 3%, on top the ATM fee that you'll get charged with when withdrawing money at a foreign ATM.
In this article, I'm going to quickly tell you about the absolute best card for US-based people traveling abroad and what you can do to get yourself one before your next takeoff.
The Best Credit Card For Travelers
Although we love using the best credit cards for travel, there are many situations and countries where you can't use credit to pay, so it’s really important to have a good way to withdraw your cash without getting ripped off.
For us, and other US-based person, the best travel debit card on the market is the one that Charles Schwab provides, a bank that is primarily focused on broker accounts but that also happens to offer an unbeatable value for those traveling abroad:
Reimbursements for ATM fees charges at ANY ATM in the world (in the form of one lump sum at the end of the month)
No foreign transaction fee
It doesn't get much better than this for anyone who's traveling internationally; it's not hard to imagine how all of these fees could end up crippling your budget after just a few weeks, or by the time you get back home.
Safety Side Note: Along with this card, we also think it's indispensable to have the entirety of your money split between at least two different financial institutions – just as a safety measure. What we do is keep a balance in two checking accounts and continuously transfer money to our Charles Schwab account as needed.
How to create an account and how it works
You can easily create an account online (link here), or at a Charles Schwab branch. If you visit a branch, they resolve any concerns you may have about your new account and assist you in creating it.
One of the few things required for this debit card is that you also open a brokerage account and deposit an initial amount into it (something minimal – we were able to open it with a $5 deposit).
Once you have money in your brokerage account, you simply transfer funds to your new checking account and in that moment, the system automatically generates your debit card and send it to your home, where it will arrive within a few days. Then, every time that you transfer funds from another bank account, it will first land in your required brokerage account before you can then transfer it to your checking account. This is where you fee-free withdrawals will be realized.
While the process is a little bit different than some of the other accounts we're used to having, all of the incredible benefits you gain are well worth the few extra clicks!
Over to you: What's your favorite debit card to travel with, or your go-to method for withdrawing cash when traveling?