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Old 03-18-2015, 11:46 AM   #21
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FWIW, I noticed yesterday that opening a Schwab Investor Checking account for that great ATM card with all ATM fees reimbursed and no foreign transaction fee requires that you open a Schwab brokerage account at the same time, but the brokerage account does not have to be funded at all!

Important little detail........

We may go ahead and do this, and then have the brokerage account available for whenever we decide to invest in some of the Schwab ETFs.
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:13 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
FWIW, I noticed yesterday that opening a Schwab Investor Checking account for that great ATM card with all ATM fees reimbursed and no foreign transaction fee requires that you open a Schwab brokerage account at the same time, but the brokerage account does not have to be funded at all!

Important little detail........

We may go ahead and do this, and then have the brokerage account available for whenever we decide to invest in some of the Schwab ETFs.
We've been in Spain (Andalusia) for the last two months. During this trip I've only needed to use an ATM three times, and one of those was because the tow truck driver wanted cash (long story for another post).

We took a good hard look at that Schwab ATM card and decided to see whether we really needed it. We've only found a couple of places that insisted on cash (mostly taxis). Next trip (September) I'll probably put $1000 in the Schwab account and use the ATM when I can't use a credit card.

The Chase Mileage Plus Explorer credit card has been fine. But "No PIN" has been a surprise to the cashiers.

It's far more important to tell your CC companies of your travel plans, and most of them have a "notification" page on their site. They know you're logging in from a foreign IP address, and if you're using a burner cell phone then they can get whiny about being unable to text you. During this trip I've been phished once (NFCU was all over it), had to make an urgent call to USAA (the tow truck), and had to deal with PenFed. NFCU and USAA were fine, as was Chase.

PenFed in particular has pissed me off for the last time, and I'll be closing that account as soon as my CDs mature.
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Old 04-04-2015, 01:05 PM   #23
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Good to hear from you Nords.

I haven't traveled in Spain, but I haven't had trouble with my PenFed VISA with chip and PIN in Europe. I've only used it for the occasion where a PIN was required in a ticket machine. It doesn't always work - but that is usually because of foreign credit card restrictions by the machine company, not a problem with the card PIN.

Several countries I have traveled in don't seem particularly surprised by signature required on my chip credit card. Not in the tourist areas anyway. Away from the tourist areas maybe.

I mostly use my Bank of American Travel Rewards VISA (chip and signature) since it pays a nice reward (1.5%) as well as no foreign transaction fee. I carry the Chase VISA Mileage Rewards card and the PenFed VISA as backup. The Fidelity AMEX can also be used as a backup and I only lose 1% to the foreign transaction fee (so still get 1% reward) but so few places accept AMEX, that it's use as a backup card is limited. Some big city hotels do accept AMEX.

I haven't tried using the PenFed ATM card overseas as I was never sure about their fees. This year we hope to use our new Fidelity ATM cards.

Are you having a problem with the credit card or their ATM card being blocked?
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Old 04-05-2015, 12:44 AM   #24
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Good to hear from you Nords.

I haven't traveled in Spain, but I haven't had trouble with my PenFed VISA with chip and PIN in Europe. I've only used it for the occasion where a PIN was required in a ticket machine. It doesn't always work - but that is usually because of foreign credit card restrictions by the machine company, not a problem with the card PIN.

Several countries I have traveled in don't seem particularly surprised by signature required on my chip credit card. Not in the tourist areas anyway. Away from the tourist areas maybe.

I mostly use my Bank of American Travel Rewards VISA (chip and signature) since it pays a nice reward (1.5%) as well as no foreign transaction fee. I carry the Chase VISA Mileage Rewards card and the PenFed VISA as backup. The Fidelity AMEX can also be used as a backup and I only lose 1% to the foreign transaction fee (so still get 1% reward) but so few places accept AMEX, that it's use as a backup card is limited. Some big city hotels do accept AMEX.

I haven't tried using the PenFed ATM card overseas as I was never sure about their fees. This year we hope to use our new Fidelity ATM cards.

Are you having a problem with the credit card or their ATM card being blocked?
Thanks!

Most cashiers seem surprised by having to swipe the card instead of sticking a chip into the reader slot. I have had problems using the Chase credit card in an ATM (for printing Alhambra tickets from a La Caixa system). I can't get the Spanish Renfe (train) website to process the card no matter how I register it with them. (They try to do a VPN login with an American verification site.) Hopefully by our next trip (September) we'll be armed with a no-conversion-fee chip&PIN card.

I don't have a PenFed credit card or ATM card. I tried to transfer funds over their website from my Spanish IP address, and customer-service hilarity ensued. But I'll write that up as a new thread.
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Old 04-05-2015, 09:57 AM   #25
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Thanks!

Most cashiers seem surprised by having to swipe the card instead of sticking a chip into the reader slot. I have had problems using the Chase credit card in an ATM (for printing Alhambra tickets from a La Caixa system). I can't get the Spanish Renfe (train) website to process the card no matter how I register it with them. (They try to do a VPN login with an American verification site.) Hopefully by our next trip (September) we'll be armed with a no-conversion-fee chip&PIN card.

I don't have a PenFed credit card or ATM card. I tried to transfer funds over their website from my Spanish IP address, and customer-service hilarity ensued. But I'll write that up as a new thread.
Oh - I see. I always use chip cards in Europe. They don't seem to be too surprised to have to print out a receipt for me to sign in the main tourist areas.

Some transportation companies are very picky about allowing foreign credit cards to be used in their ATM. Deutsche Bahn wouldn't take my PenFed chip and PIN card and I had to use cash, but the Vienna Metro happily asked for my PIN and gave me my tickets. It basically comes down to company policy.
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Old 04-05-2015, 12:23 PM   #26
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Speaking of Penfed chip and pin... I just applied for and got a Penfed C&P visa. They emphasize that it is "Pin" and not just signature.

My schwab atm card (with a visa logo) was just updated to a new card with a pin. I have always had a pin with this account/card for the atm purposes - I'm not sure if this new debit visa card with a chip means it will work as a visa at a chip and pin machine. This will be my primary account I use for ATM in Europe this summer. I'll use my unchipped capitalone card for any place where chip and pin isn't needed - since it gives me rewards and has no foreign transaction fees.

Nords - Andalusia for 2 months in the early spring sounds awesome!
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Old 04-06-2015, 12:15 AM   #27
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Nords - Andalusia for 2 months in the early spring sounds awesome!
It started out awful darn cold in January (by my Hawaii standards), but it's been a great trip!

Our daughter is stationed on a U.S. Navy destroyer in Rota. She was able to take a week of leave and we've squeezed in family trips to Granada, Cordoba, and Ronda. She started her second Mediterranean deployment in March so we've been housesitting and hanging pictures at her rental home. Of course we've also made lots of day trips around the Rota-El Puerto area as well as longer side trips to other Andalusia cities.

I managed to surf a break in Cadiz but the water temps were in the high 50s. Even with a full wetsuit it was brain-freeze cold.

In the next week or two we'll try for a military Space A flight back through Travis or Washington (Joint Base Lewis-McChord). We'll return to Andalusia in September (after FinCon15) for another couple of months.

Here are two posts (with photos):
http://the-military-guide.com/2015/03/05/lifestyles-retirement-90-days-spain/

http://the-military-guide.com/2015/03/26/fast-personal-growth-through-slow-travel/

And if Facebook has formatted the link correctly, this should give everyone access to the public photo album even if we're not on a friends list:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.850014688394215.1073741839.100001570757832& type=1&l=698ecf9f27
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Old 04-06-2015, 12:53 AM   #28
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I don't have a PenFed credit card or ATM card. I tried to transfer funds over their website from my Spanish IP address, and customer-service hilarity ensued. But I'll write that up as a new thread.
Here's the post:
Rant about PenFed's poor customer service
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Old 04-06-2015, 03:54 AM   #29
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Plan to travel to Paris / Rome in a few weeks. No prior Europe travel. Is it wise to convert some cash to Euro State side or should we convert in Paris (first stop). Is it better to pay for items in Euros or use our Amex card / Mastercard ?
As others mentioned, use the ATM at the airport (avoid at all costs those currency conversion kiosks). I travel to Europe more than I would want to the past couple of years and have used the Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account for their unlimited rebates for ATM fees. As someone already mentioned, this account is tied to a Schwab Brokerage Account but you don't have to fund that one. For a credit card, I use my Capital One VISA which doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. I don't have a chip and PIN for that credit card but I use it all the time in Europe and have had no issues with it (just make sure you know your PIN).

Regarding Rome, just be aware that the Trevi Fountain is currently undergoing some restoration and therefore has no water flowing. Make sure you get advanced tickets for the Vatican Museums (same goes for the Louvre) if you plan to see that...you'll avoid looong lines that way. If you are also interested in doing the Scavi tour underneath St. Peter's Basilica (to see St. Peter's tomb), then you would want to get the tickets about a month out. The Scavi tour ends in the Vatican Grottoes (i.e. papal tombs) and you avoid the long lines getting into St. Peter's Basilica that way.

One more thing, if you happen to be in Paris or Rome on the 1st of May, know that day is their Labor Day and most (if not all) museums are closed...so you would have to adjust your itinerary accordingly.

Have fun BUT DO WATCH OUT FOR PICKPOCKETS!
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