I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but while I was traveling to Peru and Bolivia I was hit with tons of ATM fees! I know it has happened before while I traveled because I have been using the same bank since I was in high school. I didn’t notice the pile of fees until this December because I think that I used the ATM to take out smaller amounts rather than carry larger amounts that I would take out with only one or two ATM trips. At the end of the month I was hit with $32 in foreign transaction and ATM fees!
Then, about a month ago I bought my ridiculously expensive ($1000US) flight to nearby Ecuador (I live in Venezuela) and I was charged $20 foreign transaction fee because it was not a US based airline. Argh!
For every hostel I booked online I had to pay 10% to reserve my spot. For each of those reservations I had to pay $.02-1.50 in foreign transaction fees to my credit cards. How annoying!
Learn from my mistakes!
What I have done in the past couple of months so that I’m never charged fees again:
1. I opened a credit card with ZERO foreign transaction fees. I eventually decided on the Capital One Quicksilver card. Now when I book my flights on foreign airlines and I reserve hostels in other countries, I know that I won’t be nickel and dimed by the credit card company.
2. I finally opened a Charles Schwab Checking and Brokerage account (you have to open them together). The biggest reason I did this is that Schwab will reimburse me each month for any ATM fees I’m charged! This means that their ATM card can be used in any bank machine around the world, and you’ll never pay a fee! When I am traveling and I want to take foreign cash out of the ATM there is 0% fee for taking money out. Also, there is no minimum balance and no monthly fees to worry about.
By doing these two above-mentioned steps I have eliminated all ATM and banking charges while I travel.
PS– If you are about to travel to a different country I highly recommend telling your bank and credit card companies that you will be doing so. I never had any problems with this until I was in Lima, Peru. Many cards allow you to put a travel “flag” on your account via their websites so you don’t have to wait forever on the phone.
PPS– Also, remember to have all of your card numbers and card company phone numbers written in a secure location in case your wallet/purse/backpack is stolen/lost.
Share how you avoid fees and save money while you travel!