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Expats best atm card
Old 07-25-2013, 01:30 PM   #1
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Expats best atm card

Which bank card do you find best for low fees when making withdrawals from atm's outside the US.
Some may even reimburse fees charged by the other bank.

Any suggestions?
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:55 PM   #2
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If you have a relationship with Fidelity, they offer a Visa ATM card that we have used successfully without problem in Europe. No ATM fee and only a 1% FX fee vs the usual 3% at commercial banks
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Old 07-25-2013, 05:09 PM   #3
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Charles Schwab Bank offers the best deal I found when I had this same question: Reimbursement of ATM fees, even outside USA and good exchange rate (no surcharge/fee).

Unfortunately, I cannot offer first hand experience as to how this actually works in practice yet. I curtailed my international travel and never bothered to open an account. But, I still plan to do so when my international travel picks back up.
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Old 07-25-2013, 05:19 PM   #4
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You need to consider fees and exchange rates. Some ATM/credit cards don't charge fees but don't give good exchange rates.

Sometimes it also depends on where you travel. If you have specific locations in mind, it might be easier to target that location.

Start with the banks that you currently bank with. Call them and ask about their fees and exchange rates. Then compare with others.
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:12 AM   #5
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Schwab is the best hands down. Gives you a good exchange rate (Visa's daily rate), and there is no percentage deduction for foreign transaction and no hidden deduction for the Visa fee (which apparently is often around 0.65% or thereabouts). Also, they reimburse all foreign ATM fees.

When they first started reimbursing, they didn't handle some countries well. But they seem to have fixed all that.

I have a Stanford Federal Credit Union card, and a few years ago they started offering 0% foreign transaction fee. Then, starting about a year ago, they started reimbursing all fees. But now they are changing that, no fee reimbursement, unless you have a close relationship with them (defined as something like a loan, business relationship, etc). So that benefit goes away for me on September 1. Plus they had low daily withdrawal limits.

I live in the Philippines and plan to open another bank account there and I may start using that as the main source of funds. With a dollar account, I can deposit checks written on US banks. I can withdraw my dollars as Philippines pesos at the bank counter at almost the market rate (within 0.2%) as long as I withdraw at least $1000 at a time (more like 0.4% lost if withdraw less than that or use ATM). So I plan to supplement my Schwab card with this account.
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:19 AM   #6
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It's good to get several cards on several accounts. I have 5 debit or ATM cards on 5 separate accounts and the terms have changed *significantly* on all of them since I retired 6 years ago. Some got better and some got worse.

Also, when you are overseas, your cards will expire, you need to have extra cards in case you lose it, it gets damaged, fraud, the bank temporarily shuts the account down due to suspected fraud, it gets stolen, etc. In Colombia when I was living there, the Visa Star system mysteriously went out in the whole country for over a week -- most foreign ATM cards stopped working. I had a master card based ATM (my HSBC card) as a backup that didn't have that problem but some expats without local banking relationships had real trouble.

Where I live, I have a good friend who I give the keys to my house, motorcycle, etc. And I give him an ATM card. That account has terrible terms (3% foreign transaction fee), but it is nice to have as a backup. If my house got robbed and all my cards were stolen, I know my friend has a card I could use. Or I could text him on my way to the hospital with the ATM code and tell him to bring me money to the hospital, for instance.
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:36 AM   #7
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Agree with Kramer -- having a few ATM cards are handy especially if living in SE Asia, can be helpful ... the cards should be with various banks/networks as sometimes network connectivity is a challenge.

USAA card ? used to be good but then started charging fees...not sure if there are many ATM's who do NOT charge fees. But the banking fees have also come down a LOT over the years.

Have been living abroad for 20+ years. I have not used a / had a really local bank accounts (always relied on ATM's) since around 2000. Pretty much for all living expenses, use ATM withdrawals or an occasional wire transfer.

Keep a bit of emergency cash on hand (stash)...because ATM's go "offline" from time to time. plus - depending where you are, a few ben franklins in the wallet can come in handy for emergencies too.
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:42 AM   #8
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I know many people who use Schwab and are happy with them.

Capital One 360 (formerly ING) now no longer charges foreign exchange surcharges. But they don't refund ATM charges. I have found their rates to be decent, though.
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer View Post
It's good to get several cards on several accounts. I have 5 debit or ATM cards on 5 separate accounts and the terms have changed *significantly* on all of them since I retired 6 years ago. Some got better and some got worse.

Also, when you are overseas, your cards will expire, you need to have extra cards in case you lose it, it gets damaged, fraud, the bank temporarily shuts the account down due to suspected fraud, it gets stolen, etc. In Colombia when I was living there, the Visa Star system mysteriously went out in the whole country for over a week -- most foreign ATM cards stopped working. I had a master card based ATM (my HSBC card) as a backup that didn't have that problem but some expats without local banking relationships had real trouble.

Where I live, I have a good friend who I give the keys to my house, motorcycle, etc. And I give him an ATM card. That account has terrible terms (3% foreign transaction fee), but it is nice to have as a backup. If my house got robbed and all my cards were stolen, I know my friend has a card I could use. Or I could text him on my way to the hospital with the ATM code and tell him to bring me money to the hospital, for instance.
5 atm cards seems like a good idea.
I would think different pin codes and logins as well.
Fund each account from a brokerage or bank account that you do not carry an atm card for.

How about credit cards?
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:33 PM   #10
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This site has good information on terms and conditions on foreign usage for all major ATM, debit, and credit cards:

Credit/Debit/ATM Cards and Foreign Exchange - FlyerGuide Wiki

In the countries where I have lived, credit cards were not very useful. But that is changing and it is a good idea to have a couple good ones, if possible. Better to start them before you retire.
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Old 07-26-2013, 08:12 PM   #11
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We, as a family, are about to start our long term overseas living/travel within days so this topic is near and dear for me. I agree that having a couple of ATM cards with different banks is a must.

In my case, I have 3 ATM cards. First one is with Citibank for my personal checking account. Second one is also with Citibank for my business checking account. Third one is with Fidelity. Fidelity reimburses ATM fees so that is a plus. In addition, I have a Capital One Venture Credit Card with no international transaction fees. All the accounts are somewhat linked to each other. My business checking is linked to my Citibank personal checking so I can transfer funds without any fees. Fidelity is linked to Citibank personal checking so I can transfer funds in and out. Fidelity checking is also linked to Fidelity Taxable brokerage account so I can also transfer funds back and forth as well.

Hope all works as planned
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Old 07-27-2013, 04:15 AM   #12
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Schwab is the best hands down. Gives you a good exchange rate (Visa's daily rate), and there is no percentage deduction for foreign transaction and no hidden deduction for the Visa fee (which apparently is often around 0.65% or thereabouts). Also, they reimburse all foreign ATM fees.

When they first started reimbursing, they didn't handle some countries well. But they seem to have fixed all that.
+1

I've used my Schwab card on multiple trips to different countries over the last few years and never had any issues. We just returned from Thailand and I'm curious to see if the ATM fees are reimbursed without any issues. Your comment is reassuring, since I wasn't sure if I'd get reimbursed. I remember reading somewhere that it depends on how the bank posts the ATM withdrawal.

I'll post an update once the fees are reimbursed.
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Old 07-27-2013, 03:16 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by kiki View Post
+1

I've used my Schwab card on multiple trips to different countries over the last few years and never had any issues. We just returned from Thailand and I'm curious to see if the ATM fees are reimbursed without any issues. Your comment is reassuring, since I wasn't sure if I'd get reimbursed. I remember reading somewhere that it depends on how the bank posts the ATM withdrawal.

I'll post an update once the fees are reimbursed.
They fixed the Thailand reimbursements during my time there a few years ago. So hopefully you won't have any problem.

I think I might have had an issue in Mexico (2011) with some banks but the fees were low so I didn't bother to get reimbursement. But I can't remember the details.
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Old 07-29-2013, 04:01 PM   #14
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Agree with having multiple cards. I usually keep a couple ATM/credit cards in my wallet and a couple else where for backup.

Also sometimes it is more convenient to use one ATM card than another. In Hong Kong, HSBC is every where so I used my HSBC card. In Tokyo, I used Citibank because there is one across the street. In London, I used B of A because they have some deal with Barclay.

I have heard a lot of good things about Schwab as many suggested but haven't tryied it myself since I probably have too many cards already.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:40 PM   #15
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When I was abroad I used my Navy Federal card, which is issued by VISA and I didn't pay high fees when I used the ATM. Of course, when it comes to actually pulling out money I tried to do it as little as possible.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:48 AM   #16
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We use a few ATM cards from our US credit unions to get most of our cash. They don't reimburse ATM fees any more, but they give a decent exchange rate. Ends up costing about 0.5%. We also have an ATM card for my local currency account with the local bank here. No fees on that one if I use their ATM's, and I can write them a USD check as a deposit and get a very good exchange rate.

So far we haven't had any problem with ATM card identity theft, probably because we only use them in legitimate ATM's. But we have had ID theft on 1 or 2 credit cards each year for the past couple years. The unauthorized charges showed up in Hong Kong, London, and Kansas.
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Old 08-02-2013, 12:42 AM   #17
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They fixed the Thailand reimbursements during my time there a few years ago. So hopefully you won't have any problem.

I think I might have had an issue in Mexico (2011) with some banks but the fees were low so I didn't bother to get reimbursement. But I can't remember the details.
All my ATM fees were reimbursed, no issues. Gotta love it.
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Old 08-02-2013, 10:20 AM   #18
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In France we use our Bank of America card at the BNP Paribas ATMs. They're everywhere and have some "ATM Alliance" with BofA.

The exchange rate is decent and they don't charge an ATM usage fee.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:55 AM   #19
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I can second the Schwab comments and the need to have more than one ATM card. I still prefer USAA as they have always reimbursed all fees to me without problem, foreign or domestic. Recently used it heavily in France for a month with no issues.
I prefer in many places to use a card that has no connection to my larger accounts (some of those at Schwab). My USAA ATM card is linked to a fully isolated account for this purpose and is only used for cash withdrawals.

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Fully Isolated Account Question
Old 08-10-2013, 11:32 AM   #20
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Fully Isolated Account Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malcolm2 View Post
...
I prefer in many places to use a card that has no connection to my larger accounts (some of those at Schwab). My USAA ATM card is linked to a fully isolated account for this purpose and is only used for cash withdrawals.

M
This has been a bit of a nagging concern in the back of my mind for some time, especially now that I do almost all banking, investing, etc. online.

What do you consider a fully isolated account? Unless you are only making cash deposits and withdrawals at ATM's, an account would seem to have some ties to other, presumably larger, accounts.
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