Can I Use My Debit Card on Vacation?

Are you about to go on a big trip overseas? Have you already booked your tickets for Italy and now you’re just counting down the days? As part of your planning, you’ve probably wondered if you can use your debit card to get cash while you are abroad. The answer is yes, which will probably make your life a lot easier as you’re wandering the streets of Rome or a tiny Tuscan village — after all, nobody wants to sight-see with a big clump of bills in their pocket.


Little difference between credit and debit

Foreign countries might view debit cards a little bit differently than here in the United States. The line between a debit card and a credit card, for example, is often blurred.

Hit those ATMs when you can

Additionally, many countries in the developing world may not deal with debit cards and credit cards as much as we do, and that could translate into ATMs being few and far between. In Nicaragua, for example, there are only a handful of ATMs on the entire Caribbean coast of the nation. If you’re traveling there you need to use your debit card at the airport or in a major city and get the cash you need before you head out. 

Watch out for fees

It should also come as no surprise that international use of our debit card will result in hefty one-time fees for using your debit card abroad. As you’re probably aware, banks and credit card companies are aggressively looking for new sources of revenue in these crazy economic times, and a good rule of thumb is “if they can slap a fee on it, they will.” (Once they slap the fee on the transaction, the next step is to raise that fee, of course.) These fees can often be leveled as a percentage of your transaction, so big withdrawals can result in bigger fees. 

To learn more about using your debit card in other countries, debit cards, cash withdrawals, ATMs and other banking topics, be sure to consult with a banking professional.