Best Banks and Credit Cards for Travelers

Bank of America
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available or the benefits and terms have changed. View the issuer’s site for current information. 

If you’re planning an international trip in 2022, you’ll have plenty of details to take care of, from arranging for plane tickets to ground transportation to lodging to developing your sightseeing itinerary.

Add one more thing to your to-do list: making sure you’re working with the best bank for international travels. The fees your bank charges for accessing your money abroad can have a significant impact on your overall budget. Wouldn’t you rather spend those funds on fun than fees?

Read on to learn more about some of the best banks and credit cards to suit your overseas needs.

Travel Prep: 10 Financial To-Dos Before Going on a Trip
Find: 10 Credit Cards To Consider for Travel Rewards

What Are the Best Banks for International Travelers?

GOBankingRates looked at a variety of banks and their offerings and identified these that offer strong benefits for travelers.

ATM Usage

You’ve saved for your dream vacation in Europe or Asia or Australia or Africa — wherever — and the last thing you want is to see your hard-earned money go toward fees for ATM withdrawals at foreign banks. If you open these checking accounts, you will pay no fees or limited ones.

A Better Way to Bank

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account

  • Unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide
  • No fees or account minimum balance
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Interest rate of 0.03% on your checking account balance

Betterment Checking

  • ATM fees automatically reimbursed
  • No account minimum balance
  • Foreign transaction fees automatically reimbursed
  • No overdraft fees

Credit Cards

Just as you want no or low ATM fees, you won’t want to pay extra costs to use your credit card abroad. Some card issuers assess a foreign transaction fee when you use your card outside the United States or buy something in another currency. And you could be in for a shock when your monthly card statement arrives if your issuer charges foreign transaction fees.

Planning foreign travel? You’ll want to check with your bank to see whether your credit card charges foreign transaction fees. If it does, you might consider applying for an alternate card that doesn’t assess the fees, but read the fine print first.

That fine print could disclose some hefty annual fees, some up to $550. While those premier cards come with premier rewards, it’s probably more card than most of us need.

Several banks and issuers offer credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees, and some have no fee or an annual fee of less than $100. Plus, they include bonus points or miles, rewarded based on both your travel and everyday spending, that can be redeemed for things such as gift cards, cash back or future travel. They include:

A Better Way to Bank

U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature Card

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 annual fee for the first year; $95 a year after that
  • 50,000 bonus points if you spend $2,000 in first 120 days of account opening
  • Up to five times bonus points on some travel

Bank of America Travel Rewards

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • 25,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days of account opening
  • Unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases

Capital One Venture Rewards

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee
  • 60,000 bonus miles if you spend $4,000 in first 90 days of account opening
  • Unlimited two miles for every $1 spent on all purchases, plus five miles per dollar on some travel

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $99 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months)
  • 50,000 bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within 90 days of account opening
  • Earn two miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, 1 mile per $1 in other purchases

More Options: GOBankingRates’ Best Travel Credit Cards

What To Consider When Choosing a Bank

Part of putting together your foreign travel agenda includes looking into whether your current bank is traveler friendly. By making an appointment with a bank representative, you can find out how well your bank will work for you. A bank that has proved top-notch for your day-to-day needs might not suit you for your travels. Questions to ask:

  • Which ATM network is the bank in? And how many ATMs are located in the region where you plan to visit?
  • Does your bank have partner banks where ATM usage or other services will be free?
  • Will your bank reimburse you for using ATMs at a non-partner bank?
  • What are foreign transaction fees for using your credit card abroad? They can range from free to 5%, typically.
A Better Way to Bank

If you learn your domestic bank will wind up costing you an unreasonable amount of fees when traveling, your bank representative might introduce you to other account types the bank offers. If your bank isn’t compatible with foreign travel, shop around for a bank where you can open a second account. Be sure to choose a bank for a new account in plenty of time for your new debit card to arrive before you head to the airport.

Also See: Why Your Bank Choice Is Important for Your Day-to-Day Life

Wiring Money

Although many ways exist today to shuffle money from one account to another electronically, wire transfers remain a necessary part of a bank’s offerings. If you’re buying property or making another large purchase in a foreign country, sellers will want verified funds that move from your U.S. bank to their bank before completing the transaction. And expect to pay fees. Your bank likely will charge a fee, the receiving bank will add one, and you could pay extra for currency conversion.

Many U.S.-based banks charge $35 or more for an outgoing international transfer and waive the cost only if you have a significant amount of money in your account. And, remember, you could pay fees on the receiving end, too. That’s because your international transfer could pass through several banks along the way — each of which could assess a fee.

It turns out that a bank might not provide you with the best value when it comes to transferring money internationally. Money transfer firms such as Wise and OFX promise to move money with better transfer fees, which allows you to keep more of your money.

If 2022 marks the first time you’ve traveled internationally and you’re starting from scratch when it comes to travel-friendly banking, you’ll want to invest the time in researching banks. By doing so, you just might save enough money for an extra night in Paris, for example. Bon voyage!

Disclaimer: This content is not provided by the companies mentioned. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the companies.

More From GOBankingRates

About the Author

Jami Farkas holds a communications degree from California State University, Fullerton, and has worked as a reporter or editor at daily newspapers in all four corners of the United States. She brings to GOBankingRates experience as a sports editor, business editor, religion editor, digital editor — and more. With a passion for real estate, she passed the real estate licensing exam in her state and is still weighing whether to take the plunge into selling homes — or just writing about selling homes.

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