Your bank is key to being able to travel! This tip is a little more technical but even more helpful in getting you to your dream vacation spots: it has to do with organizing your finances.
This is a sensitive topic because the root of most problems in life is money, but it’s one that I know can make or break your trip. This tip will show you how to make the most of your transactions wherever you are – home, in the historical center of Rome, or the most wonderful views of Victoria Falls.
Here it is:
Get a bank account that waives ALL fees (no monthly fees, no account minimums, no direct deposit requirements, REIMBURSEMENT of all ATM fees)
What? How does that work?
Know that in most countries, including in Europe, cash is king. Businesses either won’t accept cards or will charge you an outrageous fee (I’ve seen >6%) to use credit and debit cards. You need access to cash, which means using ATMs or changing currency.
Your bank account is the key to making this happen since you don’t want to carry large amounts of cash at once, and avoiding fees is easier than you think. Many accounts won’t charge you maintenance fees, so that’s easy. If yours does (COUGH Bank of America COUGH), there better be a great reason to have it. If not, switch to a free account. Most ATMs will charge you to use them if you don’t have an account from that bank, and your bank may charge you another fee for using an out-of-network ATM. Four to five dollars for each fee makes almost $10 on each withdrawal.
Three dollars here and five dollars there doesn’t sound bad, but you DON’T have to pay those! $8 can pay for a decent meal or taxi/Uber ride in most parts of South America and Asia, and some banks will not only waive all withdrawal fees but also reimburse you for any fees that the ATM charges.
My checking account of choice is Charles Schwab.
(For US citizens only, though you can find banks in other countries that also offer this.)
Note: I am not being compensated in any way for this recommendation.
You can apply directly online. I use this account on all my travels because they never charge me any fees, and indeed at the end of each month, deposit back all ATM fees, from any country worldwide, that I have been charged. They also offer free checks and a debit card, and a competitive interest rate. Many banks charge for checkbooks or offer no interest for checking accounts. If this sounds too good to be true, just know that this is the preferred account for many travelers and the only “catch” is that you also have to open a brokerage (investment) account with them, but you don’t have to deposit any money in it.
Banks shouldn’t charge you for storing money with them because they already use that money to lend to other people. They make money by charging these people interest. They shouldn’t ALSO charge you so they can make money by using your money!
[Recommended Read: How to Automatically Save and Grow Money for Travel]
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