- 1 Top 10 Checking Accounts With No ATM Fees (PNC, ALLY)
- 2 The Yoga Nomads
- 3 Digital Nomad banking 101: bank accounts & credit cards for long term travelers that save me $900/year
- 4 Where should you put your Nest Egg?
- 5 #1 Savings accounts for long term travel
- 6 #2 Checking Accounts for long term travel
- 7 #3 Credit cards for long term travel
- 8 Overview of long term travel finances – I love these 3 cards
- 9 General money management tips for long term travelers
- 10 The Charles Schwab bank ATM card and foreign currency withdrawals—from Facebook
- 11 Whoa, the Charles Schwab Checking Account Is Perfect for Travel
Top 10 Checking Accounts With No ATM Fees (PNC, ALLY)
As of 2016, automated teller machine (ATM) fees have risen 25% since 2010. As of that time, ATM withdrawals had also decreased 41%, in part due to the rising fees and the ease of electronic payments lessening the need for cash. There are plenty of banks that offer checking accounts with ATM fee rebates for consumers who withdraw cash on a regular basis.
PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: PNC) offers a $10 reimbursement per statement period on the performance select checking account. The account carries a $25 monthly service charge that can be waived by meeting certain requirements. The account earns interest on balances of $2,000 or more. PNC operates a limited network of brick and mortar locations that can offer additional convenience.
Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY) has an interest-bearing checking account with live 24/7 customer service. Domestic ATM fees are reimbursed up to $10 per statement cycle, with cross border transactions incurring a fee of up to 1%. Ally offers a free debit MasterCard, no monthly maintenance fees, bill payments at no charge and mobile deposit.
BankFive offers interest-bearing checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fees. Free mobile banking, bill pay and the first order of checks are included. Non-network location ATM fees are reimbursed up to $15 per statement cycle.
E-TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: ETFC) has a checking account with unlimited domestic ATM fee refunds, regardless of the account balance. There are no monthly account fees. Features include online bill pay, a free Visa debit card, unlimited transactions and the first order of checks. E-Trade operates a very limited branch office network throughout the United States.
Fidelity Investments offers a cash management account that it describes as a traditional checking account without the bank fees. There are no monthly fees or minimum balances. All ATM fees are automatically reimbursed nationwide with a 1% foreign transaction fee. Free bill pay, mobile check deposit and checks are included. Fidelity operates a limited branch network across the United States.
Bank of Internet USA has a rewards checking account with no monthly fees, minimum balances or overdraft fees. You can earn up to 1.25% interest by meeting certain goals, and can be reimbursed for an unlimited number of domestic ATM withdrawals. Foreign transaction fees apply. Free online bill pay, mobile deposit and mobile banking are available.
Incredible Bank, a division of River Valley Bank, offers an interest-bearing checking account with automatically reimbursed external ATM fees. A Visa check card, online bill pay and mobile banking are all included. A monthly fee of $15 is required for an average balance of less than $300 and if you are not enrolled in e-statements.
EverBank Financial Corp. (NYSE: EVER) has a very competitive interest-bearing checking account. Unlimited ATM fees from domestic banks are included with the minimum balance of $5,000. Free bill pay, mobile deposit and an Apple Pay supported debit card are included. EverBank has branch offices in Florida, and all accounts are available online.
Banks With Free Domestic and International ATM Use
First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC) offers an ATM rebate checking account. You can access your money worldwide with any third-party fees reimbursed. Interest can be earned without a monthly account fee on balances of $3,500 or more. Online banking, bill pay and your first order of checks are included.
The Yoga Nomads
Digital Nomad banking 101: bank accounts & credit cards for long term travelers that save me $900/year
First off, there are NO affiliate links anywhere in this post. Simply explaining my long term travel banking strategy and recommending the banks and credit cards I love and currently use.
Alright, things are getting real now. You’ve saved up a pile of loot and you’re planning your big trip. If you’re like me, you want to use your mountain of cash as slowly and smartly as possible.
If you follow this guide you will save a minimum of $900 this year which means an extra month on the road!
Let’s start with a high level overview. Before leaving your home country you will need the following…
#1 High interest savings account to house your nest egg
#2 Checking account with little or no ATM fees so you can access your money on the road
#3 Travel rewards credit card to take advantage of big purchases + earn free flights
Anyone can benefit from saving additional money, right? However this guide was designed for people considering longer term travel, lets say at least 2 months. If you have a standard 2-week holiday trip coming up, read through the guide and apply what makes sense for you (#1 and #3 for sure).
Where should you put your Nest Egg?
Now that you decided to travel, where are you going to put your hard earned chunk of cash? If you leave it in your normal bank’s savings account, you will gain little to no interest (.05% on average). So what should you do?
Luckily, there are a few online savings accounts that offer between .75%-1.05% interest. This is 15-20x the interest rate of your typical US Bank savings account. Although 1% is not a HUGE rate, if you have $10,000 saved up, you’ll be earning about $100/year just by having your money sitting in the account.
*$100 = 25 nights of accommodation in India. Or huge street food lunch in Thailand for an entire month.
#1 Savings accounts for long term travel
There are tons of options for online savings accounts with roughly 1% interest. Pick one with the features you’re looking for. Make sure wire transfers are free. Here is a chart to get you started. I’ll share my choice below the chart.
I personally use Capital One 360 which offers .75% interest. When i originally opened it, Capital One 360 had 1% interest but recently dropped and I have yet to make a change. They offer free wire transfers and I’ve been pleased with the customer service so far.
The only drawback with online savings accounts is there is no physical bank to visit. But lets be honest, it’s 2015 and no one goes to the bank anyway. Wire transfers are free and a million times more convenient.
#2 Checking Accounts for long term travel
Your checking account is where you will put your short term money, ie: what you anticipate spending in the next 30 days. The thing you need to look out for is ATM fees. Most ATMs will charge you a fee and then your bank also charges a fee for using someone else’s ATM. Getting hit by double-fees will really start to add up.
If you’re an American, this is going to be simple and you’ll save $100s of dollars over the course of a year. Don’t think twice, open a Charles Schwab online checking account today.
Benefits of a Charles Schwab checking account:
- No ATM fees worldwide. (Some ATMs charge you a couple bucks to withdraw, then at the end of the month Charles Schwab reimburses all your fees)
- Free wire transfers from any major bank
- 100% free
*Assuming you withdraw money twice per month (we averaged 4x/month) you will be spending a minimum of $5/withdrawal. That’s $10/month or $120/year. If you use the Charles Schwab ATM card you will save $120+ per year.
NOTE: Charles Schwab is currently only available to Americans. Sorry non-American friends, hopefully they sort this out for you soon
Alternatives for non-americans:
Here is a list of checking accounts that Nerd Wallet recommends.
I have only used the Charles Schwab checking account so I can not recommend an alternative. Can you? I will credit whoever provides me with useful information here.
This is a very common question amongst readers and soon-to-be long term travelers. Before you consider carrying $10,000 in cash, read below.
Here’s the deal, pulling money out of the ATM is by far the best way to access cash abroad. ATMs give fair exchange rates, they’re located nearly everywhere, and with the right checking account, you pay NO ATM FEES anywhere in the world.
Protip: As you travel, slowly deposit chunks of money from your high interest online savings account (Capital One 360) into your online checking account (Charles Schwab) so you can access enough (via ATM) for daily spending while still earning maximum interest.
#3 Credit cards for long term travel
While on the road, you will inevitably need to make some large purchases (flights, big excursions, occasional splurge hotel room, etc).
In order to make the most of these purchases you will want to open a travel rewards credit card. A card that gives you points/miles each time you use the card and has NO foreign transaction fees. Here is a great list of credit cards with NO foreign transaction fees by The Points Guy. I personally use Capital One’s Venture card and I’m very happy with it after 3 years.
Why I use Capital One’s Venture card?
- 2 miles / dollar spent on any purchase
- 40k bonus mile after you spend $3k total in the first 3 months of opening the card [bonus worth roughly $400]
- No foreign transaction fees
- Rewards never expire.
*I don’t think this is the only good card on the market, however I am very happy with it so far. I had some fraud on 2 separate occasions and both times, Capital One caught it very quickly and reimbursed everything with out any hassle. Very pleased with their customer service.
Some cards give away 50,000 miles just for opening the card, others require you to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months in order to get your 50k miles.
I recommend opening a new credit card each time you have big expenses coming ups so you can take advantage of the bonus miles. Lots of long term travelers boast that they haven’t paid for a flight in 3 years. Sounds pretty good, right!?
Most flight hackers use a free service called Award Wallet to manage all the rewards on your credit cards.
Overview of long term travel finances – I love these 3 cards
- Nest egg = online saving account with
1% interest (Capital One 360)
Useful and free phone application that allows friends to pay each other quickly and safely. Connects to your checking account so when you pay someone the money comes straight from your checking account. When someone pays you, you just “cashout” from the app and then the money is transferred into your checking account.Everyone I know uses this application. Easy.
*Venmo is owned by Paypal. They make money because people forget to “cash out” for a period of time allowing Venmo to “put your money” to work earning interest. A completely reasonable way for Venmo to make money.
Useful to see all your accounts in one place. Includes 401k and any other investment vehicles you use – remember to set them to a position that won’t require you to monitor them daily (unless, of course, you plan to day trade while traveling like Marcello from WanderingTrader.com)
Useful to have an account in case you do freelance work, or want to pay big expenses through Payal to be safe.
Since you worked so hard saving up for long term travel, it’s smart to keep track of your daily spending. Even if you don’t track it down to the centavo, it’s useful to spot trends.
*Example: After analyzing your spending, you realize you spend 2x your daily budget on ‘travel days.’ Save money by traveling to fewer destinations. Bonus: you’ll get deeper into each location.
Helps when you need to convert monies and you’re not connected to WIFI.
General money management tips for long term travelers
- Bring multiple Credit Cards and Debit cards just in case you either… lose one, the ATM doesn’t like your card, or a card get’s stolen. (happened to both Anne and I during our trip)
- Tell your bank you will be traveling. Give them exact countries and a rough timeline if you can. Each bank does this process differently
- Don’t forget to link your savings account, checking account, and credit cards before leaving your home country. Some cards require you to show proof of US address or physically mail them a form. (Why the hell any company would require paper forms is beyond me)
- Get all your credit card statements in email form instead of mailed to your house (save trees and welcome to 2015)
- Plan ahead if you’re going off the grid – certain areas don’t have ATMs and you’ll want to stock up before that time comes.
- Be mindful of ATM limits per day (some are $500, some less) – comes into play when you need to pay a big expense – also a benefit of having 2 cards in case you’re in a bind.
- Spread out your credit cards and cash around your backpack, daypack, and on your person. Minimizes risk of losing it all!
I’d love to hear from you… Whats your #1 tip for managing money abroad?
Former corporate sales rep turned nomadic entrepreneurial yogi. Street food ninja, avid outdoorsman, craft beer geek, and live music junkie. Co-founder of The Yoga Nomads.
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[…] A&B: We had both saved money from being in corporate America for a number of years beforehand. We also made sacrifices before we left like moving back home and cutting down expenses wherever we could. Also, traveling throughout India and Southeast Asia is super cheap. Check out our strategies for banking while traveling. […]
The Charles Schwab bank ATM card and foreign currency withdrawals—from Facebook
Copyright 2013 John T. Reed
There is no minimum balance to have the necessary checking account, although you are not going to get any cash—foreign or US—out of a foreign ATM until you put some USD into the Schwab account, are you? This is a bank. Your checking account at Charles Schwab is FDIC-insured up to $250,000.
Also regarding Schwab, if you have at least of $500,000 there—all types of accounts like IRAs combined—you get an unlimited number of Swift wires per year. I like that cost, but SWIFT wires are not very swift. They take something like 3 to 6 days to arrive.
Is this a big deal? Nope. On a $1,000 ATM withdrawal in a country that uses another currency, various banks charge from $10 to $40. But since there is no minimum balance or fee for the Schwab account, why not get the card , attach it to your passport with a paper clip, and deposit the amount you expect to withdraw before you leave on your overseas trip? I now have two things attached to my passport: my GOES/Nexus card and my AAA international drivers permit. I will probably add a Schwab card—and treat myself to a couple nice meals in Canada using the savings from the Schwab ATM card.
Christian Green: I obtained the .25% figure from an average of about 50 transactions where I "back-calculated" the fee from how much was deducted from the card.
Whoa, the Charles Schwab Checking Account Is Perfect for Travel
It doesn’t matter that you have an anti-theft RFID, chain-mail, knife proof cash belt with +20 resistance to fire; or that you’re “really, really careful.” Having too much cash on you is just unsafe. In most cases, you’re better off depending on a good credit card or pulling cash out of an ATM. With a little know-how, you can skip the fees, too.
You probably know Charles Schwab as an investment banking firm, but they also have an online checking account called High Yield Investor Checking Account. If you constantly find yourself getting cash from foreign ATM fees, only to have your bank also charge you a separate fee, this checking account is going to flip your world upside down. Charles Schwab will reimburse you for any ATM fees incurred at the end of the month–with no limit to the amount, apparently.
I first heard about this from a friend, and after looking it up, I quickly signed up. The process is painless, assuming your credit is healthy. A couple of steps to know:
- Before they send you the debit card in the mail, you need to verify your existing checking account from another institution. They make two tiny deposits in your account and you just have to confirm the amounts, similar to how PayPal does it.
- Once verified, sync your other checking account to your newly opened Charles Schwab account so that you can transfer funds back and forth. Initiating a transfer to and from your Charles Schwab account should not incur any fees. I double and triple checked with the representatives and even checked my account.
- Allocate a certain amount of money to your Charles Schwab account, which henceforth should be your nest egg for getting and using cash any time you travel. You don’t have to worry about the ATM fees, which can add up if you tend to withdraw a lot.
- You’ll be sent your debit card once you’ve transferred some funds to the Charles Schwab account.
- One caveat: When activating your debit card, you’ll need to do it while you’re in the U.S. Trying to do it overseas gave me problems with finalizing my pin (something about being unable to read touch tones from international phones). In any case, if you open an account, make sure to have everything set up before you leave the U.S.
I use this account solely for traveling. It’s nice that I can just throw in a certain amount of money and not freak out if it gets lost or stolen. Before this, I just withdrew and exchanged a certain amount of “starter” cash for the country I was visiting. This involved some arbitrary, nonsensical calculations in my head about how much I think I would need, but I almost always overshot this and would return with leftover cash that was too little to make the selling worth it. Not to mention, I didn’t feel comfortable carrying a lot of cash on me. Nowadays I let my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card and Charles Schwab ATM card take care of everything.
It’s worth noting that Charles Schwab’s High Yield Investor Checking account isn’t the only account that waives foreign ATM fees. Capital One and Fidelity also have something similar, but my experience is directly related to Schwab’s and I have so far found it super convenient and hassle-free.
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