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In this finance hacker post we’ll cover the best no foreign transaction fee debit card so you can avoid foreign transaction fees when traveling! We will also cover how to get your bank fees refunded! With minimal effort, you can also get most bank fees waived simply by contacting your bank.  

Avoiding Bank Fees When Traveling Abroad

No Foreign Transaction Fee Debit Card

Personally, my favorite card is the Charles Schwab checking account! It’s completely free and the reimburse you for all atm fees in the United States AND from ATMs all over the world. Another bonus to the Charles Schwab checking account, they give you 0.1% APY on whatever you have in your checking account. It’s not much, but it’s better than 0% which most other banks give you with their checking accounts.

Chase ATM Foreign Transaction Fee

Chase is my main bank account but it doesn’t mean it’s the best. I only use my Chase debit card when I have no other options when traveling abroad because the Chase ATM Foreign Transaction Fee is super high!

$5: First, you get hit with the non-Chase ATM Fee.
3%: Then you get hit with the foreign exchange fee of 3%

If you pulled out $100 USD in another country, that’s an automatic 8% of your money gone due to the Chase debit foreign transaction fee. You could even be hit with more fees if the ATM you use charges you!

Bank of America ATM Foreign Transaction Fee

Very similar to Chase, Bank of America ATM foreign Transaction fees will cost you a lot when using your debit card overseas. The fee structure is the same as well as my recommendations.

$5: First, you get hit with the non-Bank of America ATM Fee.
3%: Then you get hit with the foreign exchange fee of 3%

If you pulled out $100 USD in another country, that’s an automatic $8 of your money gone due to the Bank of America debit foreign transaction fee. You could even be hit with more fees if the ATM you use charges you! Using Bank of America debit card abroad would cost you about 8% if you pulled out $100 USD in another country.

TD Bank, US Bank, PNC Foreign Transaction Fees and More

With most American banks and credit unions, you’ll run into a similar fee structure as noted above. There are very few no foreign transaction fee debit cards because it’s easy money for banks to make. BTW, banks make a lot of money. You’re best friend in this situation is Charles Schwab since he’s got you bank and the best option when using your debit card internationally.

Thailand ATM Fee Scam

I’ll be using this as a REAL example of why you want to be using the RIGHT debit card for foreign transactions fee: Charles Schwab.

In Bangkok, Thailand, there’s a HUGE ATM scam. It’s not done by individual scammers, it’s done by the BIG Thai banks. I highly suggest using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees when traveling in Thailand because you will get ripped off by the Thai Bank ATMs!

Whenever you withdraw money from an ATM in Bangkok, the “service” fee is an automatic 220THB. That’s $7.33 USD just to use the ATM. You’ll have to pay additional fees if you’re using Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America or any other bank

The only thing you can do about it is to use the ATM as little as possible why using a no foreign transaction fee debit card like Charles Schwab.

Even though Charles Schwab will reimburse you that $7.33 USD in ATM fees, I absolutely don’t support this Thai bank scam. Since I’ve noticed this at several different bank ATMs in Thailand, these Thai banks are colluding to scam you.

How To Avoid Overdraft Fees

I’ve messed up before. Overdraft fees are outrageous. You get charged for being poor. It’s a messed up system but you can avoid it! If you want to know how to avoid overdraft fees, try using my “Getting your bank fees back!” trick outlined below.

How to avoid overdraft fees? Just ask! You don’t even actually have to speak, you can chat with most banks online or via secure mail.

This is from an actual chat with Charles Schwab (my favorite bank).  I’ve successfully gotten fees waived with other major banks over online chat. Go for it!​

Getting Your Bank Fees Back!

Chase ATM fees are bad. I don’t understand how it’s legal to charge you for your own money, but that’s how it works. There is a trick to get your Chase ATM foreign transaction fee back! So here it is in a few steps:

  1. Chase Debit Card International Use: Withdraw money as need from ATMs when travling abroad
  2. When you get your bank statement and have a TON of fees, contact Chase Bank. You can contact Chase via secure message online or over the phone.
  3. When you contact them, clearly and politely tell them you just got your bank statement and you weren’t aware that there were going to be so many fees when using your debit card abroad.
  4. Ask the bank if they could waive these fees as a one-time courtesy since you’ve been a loyal customer.
  5. Bam! Bank fees refunded! Have a good day! That’s it, works every time but shouldn’t be used too frequently.

Refunds With All Banks:

This trick that I’ve outline above works with all banks! I have a few bank accounts because I love credit card/bank account sign up bonuses (free money, miles and points) and have accrued many fees due to negligence. But, just because you get hit with a fee, doesn’t mean the bank will charge you!

So if you’re trying to avoid Bank of America International fees, PNC debit card foreign transaction fee, TD Bank foreign transaction fee, Wells Fargo debit card foreign transaction fee, Capital One debit card foreign transaction fee, USAA debit card foreign transaction fee, US Bank, Chase or ANY bank, you can do it! You just have to take the time to ask!

I learned all this just by trying. If you want to avoid overdraft fees or the fees from using your debit card internationally you just have to take the time to ask your bank. It takes less than 10 minutes to try and you could get a lot of your money back.

More Tips!

How To Detect Fees/Transactions On Multiple Accounts

For any person with multiple bank accounts and credit cards, you should be aware of any charges and suspicious activity immediately. I love the FREE service mint.com to track all my expenses and am alerted when my inactive accounts have any activity. Additionally, I monitor my credit score for free with Credit Sesame for an additional layer of security.

This is great because I can immediately detect fraudulent charges and/or remember to cancel a card with an annual fee.  With the annual fee, I’ve been able to contact the bank and cancel/downgrade the credit card while getting the fee waived.  This has happened with Chase, Bank Of America, Barclays, Citi and American Express.

Why Keep A Credit Card You're Not Using Open?

It adds to the “available credit” you have and to the “average age of credit” on your overall credit score. Definitely keeping credit cards open that you’re not tracking is a liability.

Always Take The Credit Immediately

When I was less savvy with banking many years ago, I incurred fees with Washington Mutual (old bank purchased by Chase) for making too many transactions between my checking and savings account. I called up Washington Mutual on the phone (internet wasn’t an option at the time) to figure out the charges.  I asked them if they could waive the fee and they said they could only do it once per year. The customer service representative (CSR) then asked if I was absolutely sure that I wanted to use it now to waive the fee. I said “no” like an idiot. Of course I should have gotten the fee waived at the time! If you’re getting the same value between now and a later potential event, then take the value now. It is through these mistakes that we learn the most.

Conclusion

From this post I hope you’ve learned that the bank wants to keep you happy! Even though there are fees for most banks when using your debit card abroad, you can get those fees reimbursed when your statement comes in. As for how to avoid overdraft fees? The exact same trick works. Of course, this trick only works in moderation. They might not be so kind if they catch you using this trick a lot, but better to have money and a bad reputation than to have no money. So ask you bank for your money back as much as possible!

You have a lot of options as the customer that’s why you always see a lot of different bank promotions. You’ve been loyal to your bank so they can help you out by waiving some of your bank fees. Just taking the time to ask can save you a lot of money!

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