The Best (and Worst) Banks for Travelers

The best (and worst) banks for travelersGoing on vacation to some tropical or cultural destination may be the highlight of your year, but let’s face it: it takes money to get there. Furthermore, there are money matters to deal with once you touch down in the country, city, or even island that you’ve been drying to see. The reality is that you need money to book hotels, money to take tours, money to eat (and drink!), and money to buy local souvenirs. Your dream trip will also take a quick turn for the worst if something happens where you can’t get money out of an ATM, your credit card doesn’t work, or, still worse, you get ripped off or robbed.

Therefore, your friends at AllWorld.com are going to not only cover the nicest beaches, mountains, and ruins in the world, but also, give you sage travel tips that will save you money, keep you (and your money) safe, and make sure your vacation remains a dream – not a nightmare.

In part one of this series, we covered a few banking and money tips to get you started, and today, we have even more for you. In fact, I’m going to cover which bank is best for international travelers, as well as which bank is the WORST to use on your travels.

First off, let’s cover what bank is good to have if you’re a frequent overseas traveler. I highly recommend opening an account with a bank that has a strong international presence. That way, you’re less likely to have problems with your ATM card being accepted, and there may be a branch in major cities no matter where you are abroad. Try Citi, HSBC, or Barclays bank, just to name a few.

You can even look online for where that bank’s ATMs and branches are located in your destination country. It may not seem like a big deal to hunt down your own bank for cash withdrawals , but ATM fees will cost you some SERIOUS coin out of network – sometimes up to $10 between that bank and your bank.

So, by having a bank with an international presence and using their locations, you can probably cut that down by 1/3 or so.

I’ve lived abroad for the better part of a decade now, and my bank of choice is Schwab . Yes, Schwab, the investment company. The important thing is that they’re a virtual bank – meaning they have no physical branches you can walk in. Therefore, not only do they NOT charge you ATM fees, but they’ll reimburse you the cost of ATM fees when you’re using a different branch – including overseas! Each month, I get a refund for all of my ATM fees that hits my Schwab account! Their customer service is also great.

Likewise, you can try Emigrant Direct, Capitol One, Fidelity, PNC, USAA, TD Bank, Canadia, or any of the handful of “virtual” banks with no branches, but Schwab will remain my traveling bank of choice.

Now, let’s get down to it – which bank is the absolute WORST for travelers? It won’t come as a big surprise that Wells Fargo is downright atrocious for traveling abroad, from their horrific customer service to their bloated fees to their nonsensical security protocols. More than once, I’ve had my Wells Fargo card shut down and even canceled just for sticking it into an ATM machine in a foreign country, even when I called them ahead of time and told them I would be using it abroad!

If there’s one good thing we can say about Wells Fargo, it’s that they’re consistent, because they suck as a U.S. bank and they suck just as much abroad!

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post, Business.com, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo, Hotels.com, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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