Best way to travel with money oversees?

posted 2 years ago in Money
Post # 2
4760 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

Why would you have to pay tons of transaction fees?  Find a bank without tones of transaction fees.  ATM is the cheapest and safest way to go.

Post # 4
1677 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

We opened a Charles Schwaab account specifically for our travels. They have no ATM fees and it was wonderful! We used our debit card at the ATMs to get cash, as well as my credit card (to earn points when it was accepted). 

Post # 6
1465 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

ATMs/credit cards are definitely the way to go.  You can just call them up a few days before you leave and let them know where you’re traveling, and they won’t flag your account for fraudulent activity.  Calling them will put the note on your card, which would probably work better than talking to your local branch.  When you get cash at the ATMs, take a pretty good amount out to limit the fees you pay.  It is still safer than carrying around wads of cash, and travelers checks are not convenient and most places don’t accept them anymore.  Make photocopies of all the cards you take (and your passport) and leave a set at home.

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by  Lavender28.
Post # 7
12895 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

It shouldn’t be that hard to call them and tell them you are travelling and for them to note that.  If you called and told them and they still screwed it up,  you ought to be finding a new credit card company imo.

Who do you have your ATM card with?  I know bank of america has partners in England.

We always use credit cards and pull money from ATMs for a flat rate fee, rather than exhcaging cash, that is normally a percentage fee.

Post # 8
10384 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

You’ll pay WAY more changing money than just pulling $ out of an ATM. A lot of banks have checking accounts specifically set up without fees for international travelers. Capital One also has no fees abroad (for credit purchases) and they have cards with chips you can get, which is really important in Europe.

Post # 9
65 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: December 2014

In Australia the bigger banks have an over seas card you can get. You pay to join up but once you have joined you can use that card every time you travel. You load money on in Australia you can convert the Aussie money into what ever other countries money you like on the net.  You just go to an ATM and take the money out in what country you are traveling in. You pay to convert the money but not for much else. The ATM fees are small and not too bad. if you convert most of the money you will need in one go you only pay fees once. Next time you travel to another country you can leave the left over money from the last holiday on the card for next time or you can change it to the new country you are going to on the internet. The card is safe has the chip in the side for places that only use that and the magnetic strip for places that have the older set up and the banks track it for you and sent you statements to check when you get home. 



  • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by  HappyK.
Post # 11
6073 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

renwoman:  When I had to go to Finland (from the US) for a work trip, I discovered once I returned (and looked at my statement) that my American Express card racked up all these “foreign transaction fees.”  They were not part of the conversion thing – they were extra.  Maybe $30 for $600 worth of expenses.  Work paid for it, but still it was my first time learning of this other fee.

So when we did our Canadian wedding/honeymoon, I made sure we got a new card that advertised “no foreign transaction fees.”  It was a Visa through Capitol One. 

While in Canada and Finland, I used pretty much a credit card only.  A few US dollars were used to tip the hotel (they preferred getting US cash where we were). 

When I went to Mexico, I changed $500 in cash at my local bank in my town prior to leaving (the little town I went to had no roads or cars, and I doubt any ATMs).  The rate was better than if I exchanged it while in Mexico’s airport. I could change it all back once I returned to the US, but I think I used it all. 

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by  sienna76.
Post # 12
602 posts
Busy bee

DH and I went to Paris last year. We didn’t bother bringing much cash since we’d have to exchange it when we got there and didn’t want to deal with that. We each brought one credit card then our debit cards. As long as you notify your bank and credit card company before you leave, there shouldn’t be any issue with using your cards overseas. Since you said you only have an ATM card, I would get a debit card before you leave. I know some people who don’t like to use debit in their day to day lives but it’s much more conveinant than cash when you’re traveling. The few times that we needed cash, we were able to use our debit cards in the ATMs over there. There was, of course, a conversion rate (same with all normal purchases) but it was much easier to manage. Each bank and credit card company will have their own set of foreign fees. We use a credit union so we didn’t pay much in fees (LOVE credit unions!) but we did get hit with some through our credit card comapny. Don’t remember how much though. It wasn’t a whole lot. 

Pre paid cards are an option but I think they would be a pain in the ass. Something to remember is that there isn’t much fraud protection on those cards so if you lose the cards or someone gets ahold of your number, you’re basically up shits creek. Some places also don’t accept pre-paid cards if they don’t have raised numbers so that’s something else to consider if you decide to go that route. 

Post # 13
5162 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

renwoman:  ATM and Credit Card all the way.

For long trips (several months), I’ve even looked for the bank with the best international policies and opened up an account for a few months so that I could do the trip without all the fees.

When you do take money out of the ATM, take a few days worth to minimize fees.

Also, using your CC internationally can be very cost effective.  Even if you have a low limit, you can just go online and pay off the balance frequently – you don’t need to wait for the statement to be generated.

Post # 14
1802 posts
Buzzing bee

renwoman:  we usually exchange a small amount of cash and then use our credit cards for whatever we can. Could you ask for a credit increase on that card? I only suggest this because it is a lot safer than carrying cash on you, and many cards don’t have foreign fees. Otherwise, my teacher who took is abroad says it is best to take money in your home currency and  exchange as needed rather than all at once. Also she said exchanging at an airport is cheaper than anywhere else, but I’m not sure if this is still true. 

Post # 15
2385 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

renwoman:  we used our credit union debit cards at the atm’s in mexico and it worked really well. We had minimal fees (actually less than using a non-network atm in the states) and I just called the bank the week before we left to let them know I would be out of the country. Our biggest issue was that the island we were on only had a couple of atms, all basically drained by the end of the day, so we got crap fees for trying to use an atm that didn’t even have cash in it to begin with…. All in all we paid maybe $20 in total fees for 3-4 withdrawls. We also found the atm’s to have better exchange rates than anywhere else in the area (NOT the hotel atms- they had crap rates, but the around town atm’s)- money changers were doing 10:1, banks were about the same but charged a fee on top of it, and atm’s were 12.30:1… We found almost no-where that offered the full and current exchange rate of 13:1… 

I did what pp’s are suggesting and had copies of my cards with me and at home in case they were lost/stolen. Also- write down your non 1-800’s bc 1-800’s only work in the US (found that out when our flight was canceled)… 

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