US Travel Bank Accounts that are great for travelers

ATM fees and foreign exchange fees are a big financial burden for travelers. In 2016, ATM fees cost a record high of $4.57 per transaction. Banks on average charge 3% for foreign transaction fees and before I found travel bank accounts that worked in my favor, with each swipe, I had less money to use for travel. Essentially, I was paying the bank to use my funds – totally counterproductive! Banks should help travelers save, not penalize them for spending their hard-earned money on the things they love.

So what is your bank doing about it? Most likely nothing.

ATM fees are a source of bank income. Only a handful of banks propose better banking solutions when it comes to fees. 

Business travelers may feel a similar financial strain if they are working with a travel management company that doesn’t specialize in savings. However strategic travel management companies like Reed and Mackay offer a different approach to business travel by delivering more savings. With advanced searches, they guarantee the lowest fares by continuously checking rates. Similar to leisure travelers, if business travelers are spending more money than necessary, it is time to find a better solution.

So here’s a list of three U.S banks that offer better banking solutions for travelers.

 

U.S. Travel Bank Accounts

 

Charles Schwab – Best For ATM Fees

Charles Schwab offers one of the most notable travel bank accounts in the country. Charles Schwab is primarily an online bank but there is one physical branch in Reno, Nevada. At the brokerage locations you can open new checking accounts and they even accept check deposits. However brokerage locations do not handle paper currency.

The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking is a great option for travelers because everything is free. There are no maintenance fees or ATM fees.

 

Benefits

  • No monthly service charge
  • Minimum opening balance not required
  • $0 account minimums
  • Unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide – reimbursed at the end of the month
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Unlimited free checks
  • No foreign exchange fees

 

Tip: Keep all of your ATM receipts. Reconcile your records at the end of the month and make sure that you are getting reimbursed for all of those fees.

 

What’s the catch?

Your High Yield Investor Checking Account has to be linked to a Schwab One brokerage account. Don’t worry, the brokerage account is also free and there are no maintenance fees. Also, only U.S. residents can open an account.

Keep in mind that although you can transfer funds into your checking account, it takes 4 business days to process. So if you transfer funds on Wednesday, you won’t have access to your money until the following Tuesday.

You can deposit funds via the phone app or you can mail in your checks with prepaid envelopes.

 

Capital One – Fee Free

Capital One’s online banking is another good option for travelers. Similar to Schwab, Capital One 360 checking account doesn’t have a physical storefront, everything is online.

 

Benefits

  • Mobile check deposit
  • No monthly service charge
  • $0 account minimums
  • Use your debit card at any ATM worldwide for free
  • No foreign exchange transaction fees

 

What’s the catch?

You may be subject to fees by third-party ATM owners.

 

Related: Cheap Winter Destination From the East Coast 

 

Ally Bank – Best For Earning Interest 

I’ve been using Ally Bank for years and I have several travel bank accounts including a money market, online saving, and interest checking account. 

I love that with Ally you can earn a higher interest rate than most checking and savings accounts. My travel fund earns 0.85% interest a year. However, I’ve recently seen promotions where you can earn as much as 1.2% interest. This is pretty good given today’s market.

 

Benefits

  • No monthly service charge
  • $0 account minimums
  • Grow your money faster with daily compounded interest
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Unlimited free checks

 

What’s the catch?

Ally Bank charges a standard foreign transaction fee of up to 1% for any currency conversion and international transaction.

Although Ally Bank doesn’t waive foreign transaction fees, it offers a lower rate than many other banks.

Also, Ally Bank only reimburses ATM fees up to $10 per statement cycle – ATMs have to be in the US.

 

Final Thoughts

It’s no coincidence that the best  U.S. travel bank accounts are from online banks. With less overhead from having to have physical locations across the country, these online banks offer a more robust service where everyone wins.

Consider opening accounts with Charles Schwab, Ally Bank or Capital One 360. Spend your hard-earned money on more travel and less on bank fees.

 

What travel bank accounts do you use to stash your travel fund? 

Pre-Trip Financial Checklist

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Top three U.S. online banks for travelers - avoid ATM fees and foreign transaction fees with a better banking solution.
3 replies
  1. danikay11 says:

    I would also suggest checking your local bank on what their policy is on ATM fees and international transaction fees. My hometown bank reimburses me from any ATM. Sometimes it pays to support local if you don’t live in a big city.

    Reply

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