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How to Avoid Bank Fees While Traveling Overseas

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How to Avoid Bank Fees While Traveling Overseas

You’ve worked hard to build your vacation fund; don’t waste it on foreign transactions fees.


International travel is becoming increasingly attractive and has landed on many of our bucket lists.   

If 2019 is the year for you to finally put a checkmark next to that box, start thinking about how you plan to pay for things while abroad. While credit and debit cards seem to be the most convenient form of currency to have while traveling, there are some pesky fees to be aware of:  

  1. Foreign transaction fees. This fee is charged by card issuers on purchases (and ATM withdrawals!) made in a foreign currency and is commonly 3% of the purchase amount.

  2. ATM withdrawal fees. Don’t be surprised to pay as much as a $5 fee for withdrawing from a foreign ATM. Also, depending on which ATM you use, the ATM operator may charge an additional fee on top of your bank’s fees. 

To put this into perspective:  

If you withdraw $500 and pay a $5 foreign ATM fee, $2 ATM operator fee, AND a 3% foreign transaction fee, it’d cost you $22. Now imagine how quickly those fees can add up over a 7-day trip.  

This doesn’t yet take into consideration the loss of value you may experience in the case of an unfavorable exchange rate!  

So, how can you avoid international fees?     

Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Currently, that includes Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Sapphire Preferred CardWells Fargo Propel American Express Card, and Citi Premier Card.  

What about ATM fees? If you anticipate needing cash, consider exchanging currency in advance or opening an account with a bank that reimburses foreign ATM fees. Currently, that includes Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account

The Bottom Line: 

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Financial logistics are an important part of a successful trip. After all, you didn’t save your money just to pay the banks. A much better use of your money is to immerse yourself in a new culture by taking a tour to explore the hidden treasures of your destination or indulging in the local cuisine.  

It's always a best practice to plan before you go!

Disclaimer: This is NOT a promoted post. Capital Benchmark Partners, LLC (“CBP”) is not compensated for mentioning or recommending any third-party vendors or other organizations. If they are mentioned, it is strictly based off CBP’s independent research.


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This data is for informational purposes only and Capital Benchmark Partners, LLC ("CBP") is not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned nor endorses them. CBP is not endorsed by any third party entities for their inclusion in this article nor is compensated for mentioning them. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but the accuracy of the information cannot be guaranteed.

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