When it is almost that time, you’ve bought the plane tickets, you know which cities you want to see, and you’ve decided what you’re going to pack, but what about how you’re going to spend money? When traveling abroad, many debit and credit cards will charge an international transaction fee. These fees can be pesky and, in some cases, add hundreds of dollars to your time abroad. In this post, we are going to discuss various credit cards that don’t charge these fees, as well as, a few tips on how to prepare financially for your time abroad.
Which Credit cards don’t charge international transaction fees?
Most airline cards will accomplish this goal of not being charged international transaction fees. However, below is a list of some cards that you can apply for to avoid those unnecessary additional fees.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card
Bank of America Travel Rewards Card
Citi ThankYou Premier Card
Capital One Quicksilver Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Card
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard
Discover it Cash Back Card
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card (AmEx is accepted less often globally)
Discover it Miles Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
United Mileage Plus Card
Citi / AAdvantage Card
This is just to name a few of the cards out there that do not charge international transaction fees. If one of these does not work for you, do your research, there are countless other travel cards and you may even already have a card that doesn’t charge those international charge fees.
How do you get cash?
Cash is always nice to have on hand. Whether you are wanting to go to some local street shops while abroad or just want to have some cash for a crepe, cash can be the preferred method of payment. However, using your debit card at any random ATM can have you spending upwards of $10 per transaction to pull money out, when you add up the fees from your bank with the fees from the ATM.
There are a few solutions to this. Bank of America, has a relationship with many banks abroad and if you have an account with them, they will allow you no ATM charges to withdrawal from any of the banks they partner with. Another exciting thing about having a checking account with Bank of America is their ability to exchange money at their branches within the US, without charging any exchange fee. This beats spending a percentage of the amount exchanged at any Travelex in an airport. All you have to do is go to your branch and make a request for a foreign currency. If they don’t have that specific currency on hand already, they will get some to the bank and you can pick it up at a later date, exchanged at the market rate.
We always exchange most of our money before hand at a Bank of America, then try to use credit cards with no fees whenever possible while abroad. Cash is our last resort for spending and is mostly used for smaller local vendors. When it comes to cash, you don’t need a lot, it cannot be spent when you return home. If you pull out too much before your trip, you may feel obligated to spend it all, which can turn into spending way more than you had planned. Whereas, if you use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, you will be spending when you want something, or for an experience, not just to get rid of your cash.
When should you exchange?
Well, this depends on where you are going. The exchange rates for different countries around the world fluctuates greatly on a day to day basis. Do your research, if you start looking into exchange rates long before your trip, you can track them over time. Look at what they have been historically, use this information to see if there is a time of year in which it is more favorable to exchange your money. We are cu
rrently planning a trip to Spain, while we would have loved to exchange our USD for Euros in mid 2016 or 2017, we are still watching the exchange rate daily, waiting for 1 USD to be worth about .9 Euro again to exchange our cash for this trip. Set yourself a clear goal exchange rate based on these trends and if your rate appears, go to the bank and make the exchange, no fees charged.
Ultimately, we believe that using a credit card, with no foreign transaction fees, is the safest way to use your money while abroad. However, if you feel desperate to have some cash on hand, there are plenty of options to getting this money without paying egregious fees. The ultimate advice is to plan ahead. You need to ensure that you have all of the information and have considered these things before you set off on a big trip. This preparation will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in the long run, making it much easier to start saving for your next trip.