The best travel apps: Travel Debit Card

Updated over 1 year ago

Cash is still king in many parts of the world where both credit cards and bank accounts haven't caught on. The best way to get cash when traveling is usually to draw directly from a country's ATM when you arrive using a debit card. It's convenient and will get you a great conversion rate, but you have to choose the right card to avoid fees which can add up. These are our favorites.

  • Watch out for ATM scams: yank and twist the card reader to ensure there's no skimmer
  • Remember to notify your bank of travel before leaving so they don't think your ATM attempt abroad is fraud leaving you stranded with no cash
  • Use the ATMs of bigger banks as the bigger the bank the better their conversion rate
  • Stay away from no name random ATMs at airports, hostels, hotels, etc as their conversion rates are usually bad and they often tack on fees
What we look for
  • No foreign transaction fees saving you ~3% each time
  • Refunding of ATM fees saving you ~$3 each time
  • As few fees as possible (monthly, yearly, setup, etc)
  • A large ATM network so you can use ATMs worldwide
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Schwab Bank Investor Checking

Best overall debit card for frequent travelers

This card is as close to the ideal travel debit card as it gets. Not only does Schwab not charge any fees but they also refund any ATM fees you incur when using it across the world which is rare. Great customer service as well.

  • No account minimum for the checking, but it does come with an extra brokerage account (that you don't have to use)
  • Website and mobile apps are average, but getting better
  • You incur a "hard pull" aka a temporary credit score drop when applying so make sure you really need it

Capital One 360

For the occasional traveler that still wants a good bank

Travel-wise, the Capital One 360 is slightly worse than Schwab: no foreign transaction fees but they don't refund foreign ATM fees. However, it's easier to open an account since it's an internet based bank and they have a better website/app. It's a good choice if you don't travel as often but still want a bank that's generally travel friendly.

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