One of the most common questions I receive about traveling is: “what bank and what credit card should I use while traveling?”. After doing countless hours of research on the subject, and spending the last year traveling abroad, I’m confident I’ve found a good way to set up your money in an efficient manner.
A quick warning: Unfortunately, the following information is only applicable to people from the United States. I apologize to the international audience, but I have yet to find similar options in other countries.
For banking, I recommend using Charles Schwab as your primary account. Why is Charles Schwab great? They have all of the traditional features one looks for in a bank, but in addition, they do not charge any fees for using other companies’ ATMs and they automatically reimburse you when the ATM you’re using charges you a fee. They even reimburse when international ATMs charge fees. At the end of every month, along with an interest payment, there’s a line-item that reimburses you for any fees charged by ATMs.
Tip: If you go with Schwab, make sure to track your ATM fees, especially internationally, as I’ve noticed they do not catch and reimburse you for all of the fees. A quick and easy phone call takes care of the mistake.
For credit cards, I recommend Capital One’s No Hassle credit card. They offer cards with a $0 annual fee in a cash rewards flavor and an airline miles rewards flavor. What makes these cards great is the fact that they do not charge any exchange rate fees (normally 3%). In fact, Capital One apparently even eats the 1% exchange fee that Visa and MasterCard charges.
Together, Schwab and a Capital One credit card make a great combination while traveling abroad. Their excellent exchange rates and lack of fees mean you can worry about finding your next travel writing story, rather than worrying about how you’re going to pay for your next meal.
Jason Demant is the founder of UnAnchor.com, where you can find detailed do-it-yourself travel itineraries for your next trip. For the latest on travel-writing you can follow him on Twitter @UnAnchor, or join the I Love Travel Writing Facebook group.