How To Minimize Foreign Transaction Fees When You Travel

by Kerwin McKenzie on September 23, 2016

How To Minimize Foreign Transaction Fees When You Travel




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A few years back, I wrote this article about where is the best place to exchange money when you travel. It still rings true, however I get questions and see it asked in online Groups about how to save on the ATM fees and foreign transaction fees. These can add up depending on our spending habits.



So I’ve put things in two categories, using a credit card and withdrawing money using an ATM since this method is actually cheaper than exchanging cash due to the fees charge for the transactions by the provider.


Even if they say no transaction fees, the rate you get is adjusted to compensate. You should ensure that you talk to your bank and understand exactly what you pay for and how much. Also, the fact that your bank’s name is on the outside of the bank when you travel, does not mean you won’t pay for an ATM withdrawal.


The key is to figure out what you will pay, do the math and see if it works for you. It’s like paying airport departure taxes, sometimes you can’t avoid it.



Let’s take a look:



Credit Cards


There are several credit cards that do not charge any foreign transaction fees. This means you can save quite a bit by using them to purchase food, ground transportation, airline tickets, shopping, etc. Check with your bank who issued your credit card to find out the applicable fees if any. If your current cards charge you a fee, then you should consider procuring a card that does not charge you a fee. You can find a list of these card from the link below.



No Foreign Transaction Fee


Bank Accounts


Depending on the relationship you have with your bank, you may be charged a fee on your checking or savings account. Typically the higher your balance either the lesser the fee or the fee may not exist at all. Ensure that you check with your back before you use your card.


Here’s a list of banks that have zero transaction fees at the time of this writing.

  • – Capital One 360 – this is a checking account with Capital One and you get no transaction fees whatsoever they say.
  • – The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account – As long as they can identify that the fee is an ATM fee, you are good to go, they will reverse the fee for you.
  • – Revolut – a different setup. You fund the card with money and then you choose the currency in which you want to pay. A friend of mine in the U.K. uses this as he makes purchases in Euros all the time and loves it.


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Do you have any other suggestions? Please leave a comment below.


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