- 1 Top 10 Checking Accounts With No ATM Fees (PNC, ALLY)
- 2 What is the Best Free Checking Account: Schwab or Fidelity?
- 3 How to Avoid ATM Fees When Traveling Abroad
- 4 How I Pay Zero ATM Fees Worldwide
- 5 How Do You Open a Schwab Checking Account?
Top 10 Checking Accounts With No ATM Fees (PNC, ALLY)
As of 2016, automated teller machine (ATM) fees have risen 25% since 2010. As of that time, ATM withdrawals had also decreased 41%, in part due to the rising fees and the ease of electronic payments lessening the need for cash. There are plenty of banks that offer checking accounts with ATM fee rebates for consumers who withdraw cash on a regular basis.
Banks With Capped Reimbursements
PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: PNC) offers a $10 reimbursement per statement period on the performance select checking account. The account carries a $25 monthly service charge that can be waived by meeting certain requirements. The account earns interest on balances of $2,000 or more. PNC operates a limited network of brick and mortar locations that can offer additional convenience.
Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY) has an interest-bearing checking account with live 24/7 customer service. Domestic ATM fees are reimbursed up to $10 per statement cycle, with cross border transactions incurring a fee of up to 1%. Ally offers a free debit MasterCard, no monthly maintenance fees, bill payments at no charge and mobile deposit.
BankFive offers interest-bearing checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fees. Free mobile banking, bill pay and the first order of checks are included. Non-network location ATM fees are reimbursed up to $15 per statement cycle.
Banks With Free Domestic ATM Use
E-TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: ETFC) has a checking account with unlimited domestic ATM fee refunds, regardless of the account balance. There are no monthly account fees. Features include online bill pay, a free Visa debit card, unlimited transactions and the first order of checks. E-Trade operates a very limited branch office network throughout the United States.
Fidelity Investments offers a cash management account that it describes as a traditional checking account without the bank fees. There are no monthly fees or minimum balances. All ATM fees are automatically reimbursed nationwide with a 1% foreign transaction fee. Free bill pay, mobile check deposit and checks are included. Fidelity operates a limited branch network across the United States.
Bank of Internet USA has a rewards checking account with no monthly fees, minimum balances or overdraft fees. You can earn up to 1.25% interest by meeting certain goals, and can be reimbursed for an unlimited number of domestic ATM withdrawals. Foreign transaction fees apply. Free online bill pay, mobile deposit and mobile banking are available.
Incredible Bank, a division of River Valley Bank, offers an interest-bearing checking account with automatically reimbursed external ATM fees. A Visa check card, online bill pay and mobile banking are all included. A monthly fee of $15 is required for an average balance of less than $300 and if you are not enrolled in e-statements.
EverBank Financial Corp. (NYSE: EVER) has a very competitive interest-bearing checking account. Unlimited ATM fees from domestic banks are included with the minimum balance of $5,000. Free bill pay, mobile deposit and an Apple Pay supported debit card are included. EverBank has branch offices in Florida, and all accounts are available online.
Banks With Free Domestic and International ATM Use
First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC) offers an ATM rebate checking account. You can access your money worldwide with any third-party fees reimbursed. Interest can be earned without a monthly account fee on balances of $3,500 or more. Online banking, bill pay and your first order of checks are included.
What is the Best Free Checking Account: Schwab or Fidelity?
Unless you carry a large balance in your account, most banks are going to charge account maintenance fees. At $3-$5 a month, these fees can add up. Paying those fees is the same thing as throwing money away. Moreover, if you travel you’ll be forced to pay out-of-network ATM fees.
There is a simple solution. Open a cash management account (a fancy way of saying checking account) with either Fidelity or Schwab.
I’m most familiar with Fidelity. Fidelity will reimburse your ATM fees, even those outrageous $10 fees incurred at strip clubs. You don’t pay any account fees. You can just deposit checks by taking a picture. It’s pretty cool.
Schwab is superior than Fidelity for international travelers. Schwab reimburses ATM fees worldwide. UPDATE: Fidelity now reimburses ATM fees worldwide.
Here are the links (no affiliate). Read up on the services for yourself to decide what is right for you:
I have agree 100% with this.
I moved abroad to Russia earlier this year. I spent a lot of time researching how to get access to my money overseas.
My research concluded that the ATM cards from Fidelity and Schwab (I have them both) as well as some seldom-known banks had the best deals. I started using the cards regularly overseas, and compared the exchange rates Schwab and Fidelity gave me vs. interbank rates on the internet.
Fidelity and Schwab typically dinged me about 0.20 – 0.25% in exchange fees (yeah, a fifth of a percentage point).
The other “low cost” banks that didn’t impose fees on me imposed lousy exchange rates… anywhere from 0.5% to 2%.
The big banks were the worst: Chase was dinging me for about 5%-6% by giving me a per-transaction flat fee of $5 plus a lousy exchange rates.
Schwab and Fidelity are just awesome for international travelers. I also investment accounts with each with a sizable sum, so I get premiere support from both. When I call, someone picks up the phone: no holding, no long phone trees and an experienced, competent native speaker fixes my issues.
I couldn’t be happer with both of them.
I have a Schwab account and couldn’t be happier. I second everything greenlander says above. It’s wonderful to not worry about finding the correct ATM and I have also experienced the perks of international travel with it. I don’t have any money invested with them at the moment and still have gotten great, prompt customer service from them so it’s not like they treat you poorly if you just use the checking account portion.
I opened a savings/checking account at my local credit union before I moved to Poland for 5 months. They reimburse all my international ATM fees and there is no commission on the exchange rate when I withdraw money. I’m not sure if all credit unions do this but it’s worth checking if you want a regular bank you can also walk into.
Interest rates suck now, but you can still get around 1% at an online bank like Ally. It’s not much but if you have a chunk of cash you might as well earn something if you aren’t going to invest it. I closed my Chase accounts because the interest rate was closer to 0.1%, they charged international ATM fees and they required minimum balances on their accounts.
Unless you’re saving for a major purchase I you’re better of investing in stocks. I have a big part of my savings in Apple and I’ve made 50-100% from buying at the $250 and $400 levels. At $550 it’s still very attractive since the price accounts for the fiscal cliff/capital gains tax selloff and it pays a dividend. With inflation at least at 2% (probably more like 3%+), you’re money is losing value even if you’re getting the best possible return on your savings. Once you have 3-6 months of living expenses saved, look to invest your money somehow instead of buying depreciating assets like cars and electronics.
D&P, What do you know about Bank of Internet? I’ve been using them for a couple years now. They have no bricks and mortors banks set up and are able to offer a higher interest rate on all accounts. I get 1.25% pa on my checking account, for example. They also reimburse up to $8 per month for any ATM charges. Honestly though, ATM fees aren’t a problem when you just take money out at the supermarket anyway.
If you aren’t a world traveler, look into your local credit union. Most people qualify for a credit union on the basis of either employment or geography. My credit union no only doesn’t charge any fees, they pay interest on checking. And I have all the bells and whistles like depositing checks through my cell phone, etc.
Any banks similar to Schwab or Fidelity in Europe?
Don’t really have that 10k$ to open an international account on neither.
I live in the states and I don’t travel internationally often. I have liked my high yield (high interest) checking account with my credit union. I opened this account many years ago when the bank was offering 6% interest. They’re currently returning 3% interest. There are other perks and there are restrictions but it has worked well for me.
I just did a quick google search and it looks like there are still a variety of high yield checking account options available from various banks and credit unions today.
Free banking: one of the perks of being British.
Something else to consider is parking some money in high interest checking accounts. Currently, I’m earning 3% on my balance.
Check out this link to find a bank or credit union in your area that interests you…
I have an account with Schwab, and I can say their customer service is uniformly superior to that of any other company. It is like calling up your personal accountant, except with better availability. Every time I’ve spoken to someone, they are unfailingly courteous, competent and helpful. Always American too.
Credit unions work well. Mine charges 1% on its credit card for foreign transaction fee and has a decent exchange rate. Chase charges 3% for that and has a crap rate on top of that. My credit union debit/ATM card also works well overseas though I do have to notify them when and where I’m going when I leave the country.
Try Astoria Federal Savings if you are in NYC, especially Brooklyn. No minimums, free if you have one withdrawal or transaction every three months or so (easy for a normal person), on-line banking, unlimited checks per cycle and the cutest Eastern European girls at many branches. Just going into the neighborhoods where they are I have scored lays. There are many other banks that cater to immigrant communities with great, free customer service and serve in little or sometimes not so little enclaves where it is like traveling to Eastern Europe.
I worry when aspiring gamers do too much over the telephone and internet as it is a cycle that limits meeting targets. Sometimes you can get convenience and opportunity at the same time. Honestly, I had a good bank for my business that was closer but left it because of how ugly the females working there are, bad attitude too. It makes a difference when you walk in as a business man and a cute female services you. It used to be that to work in a bank you had to at least have the proper waist to hip ratio, no more for non-immigrant areas.
How to Avoid ATM Fees When Traveling Abroad
Chances are that it’s happened to you.
You’re in a foreign country and you need cash, so you find an ATM and withdraw some. The next thing you know, you’re slapped with a cornucopia of fees and charges.
Considering the alternatives—like going to a currency exchange counter—ATMs are generally the least painful way to get cash abroad.
Even though the fees are usually lower, using ATMs can still burn a pretty big hole in your pocket.
Of course, one way to avoid ATM withdrawal fees abroad is to use credit cards for your purchases. But in most cases you’re just swapping ATM fees for credit card fees, and the net effect is about the same. That is, unless your credit card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, which can be up to 3%.
But finding the best credit cards to use abroad is a topic for another day. For now, we are focused on the best ways to access cash abroad.
Of course there are many things that cannot be paid for with a credit card anyway, particularly in less developed countries. No matter where you go, you’re going to need some cash.
Read on to find the best way to access cash while travelling abroad.
When you withdraw cash from a foreign ATM, there are four types of fees you have to look out for.
Naturally fees vary by bank, but no matter how you slice it, you’re going to get hit with a combination of the ones below.
1. Flat Fee from Your Bank: This is a fixed fee that your bank charges for using ATMs outside of its network. These fees usually vary between $2 and $5 and veer toward the higher end for foreign withdrawals.
2. Flat Fee from the Foreign Bank: Not only do you usually have to pay a fixed fee to your bank, but you also have to pay a fixed fee to the foreign bank which owns the ATM you’re using. This again is usually in the range of $2 and $5.
3. International Transaction Fee: Instead of a fixed fee (or in addition, if you are unlucky), your home bank may charge a percentage fee for foreign withdrawals. These are in the neighborhood of 1-3%.
4. Currency Exchange Fee: The ATM interbank network—like Plus (operated by Visa) or Cirrus (operated MasterCard)—will also take a 1% cut.
All this adds up.
A typical case would be getting hit with two fixed fees—one from your home bank and the other from the foreign bank—and then a 1% charge from the ATM interbank network. A worse case would also include getting hit with an extra 1-3% fee.
So let’s look at a typical and rather conservative example.
Assume you withdraw the equivalent of $100 twice a week, and you get hit with the following fees per withdrawal:
- Your home bank charges you a flat $5;
- The foreign bank charges you a flat $2.50; and
- The ATM interbank network hits you with 1% (or $1).
That’s $17 in fees per week, or around $74 per month, or $884 per year in ATM fees
And that’s just using somewhat conservative assumptions. Depending on your bank, you could get hit for a lot more.
I don’t know about you, but thanks to the Fed’s war on savers and their artificially low rates, I’m already getting screwed on the interest paid on my deposits. I’m in no mood to unnecessarily give the banks $884 (or more).
Thankfully I don’t have to, and neither do you.
Schwab—The Hands-Down Best Choice for Withdrawing Cash Abroad
Far and away the best way to withdraw cash from an ATM abroad is with a Schwab Bank Investor Checking Account.
Schwab doesn’t charge you any ATM fees and reimburses you for all the other fees charged by other parties. It’s simply the best way to access cash abroad.
There is no minimum to open or maintain an account, and there are no monthly fees.
Schwab has been offering these benefits for many years. The company views it as a way to distinguish itself and attract new clients. I see no reason for these benefits to go away any time soon.
As far as I know, there is no other US retail bank that offers the same benefits.
The closest one is a cash management account from Fidelity. This account is nearly identical to the Schwab Bank Investor Checking Account, except that it does not reimburse the 1% foreign conversion fee imposed by the interbank ATM networks (like Plus or Cirrus).
That makes the Schwab Bank Investor Checking Account the clear winner when it comes to getting cash abroad.
Using credit cards abroad, however, is a whole different animal and a topic that will be tackled in a future dispatch.
Part of International Man’s objective is to help you be a savvy international traveler.
Be sure you get the free IM Communiqué to keep up to date with the best travel tips.
Nick is Doug Casey’s globetrotting companion and is the Senior Editor of Casey Research’s International Man. He writes about economics, offshore banking, second passports, value investing in crisis markets, geopolitics, and surviving a financial collapse, among other topics. He is a CFA charterholder. In short, Nick’s work helps people make the most of their personal freedom and financial opportunity around the world. To get his free video crash course, click here.
Making the Most of Your Personal Freedom and Financial Opportunity Around the World
How I Pay Zero ATM Fees Worldwide
A note from Sarah Page: Scott originally wrote this post about the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account debit card in March of 2014. I am re-posting it now as a reminder to all of you who haven’t jumped on this train yet–get one now! I have saved so much in ATM fees over the years, especially the last few weeks traveling around Europe when I’ve needed more cash for small transactions. I’ve also never had trouble withdrawing money from any ATM, no matter what country I’m visiting! Notes added on the original post by me are scattered throughout in bold font.
During my recent trip to New York, Macau, Singapore, Cambodia, England, Slovenia, and Germany, I had a wallet full of six currencies. For my several stops at ATMs, I paid zero ATM fees.
I didn’t pay a fee to the bank that owned the ATM. I didn’t pay a fee to my bank for using some other bank’s ATM. And I didn’t pay a transaction fee for taking out foreign currency.
With all that fee avoiding, I saved at least $50. If I save $50 per trip for the foreseeable future, that will add up to quite a lot more money in my pocket.
The secret to the savings was opening a Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account. The account is free to open, has no account minimum, and no monthly service fees. Once you have the account, Schwab will never charge you an ATM fee no matter what ATM you use to access your money, and it will cover any fee that the ATM owner charges you.
The opening of the account may require a hard pull on your credit report. I don’t see one on my credit report, but other people do report seeing a credit pull.
How do you open one? What is my experience with the account and ATM card?
How Do You Open a Schwab Checking Account?
To open a Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account, start here. As you open the account, you are actually opening two linked accounts: a brokerage account and a checking account.
Neither the brokerage nor checking account has a minimum account balance, so I leave my brokerage account balance at zero because I am only planning on using the checking account for its ATM benefits (Sarah Page: I’ve also done the same in the past, but a reader commented on this post on 6/27 that his account was closed for lack of a balance over a significant period of time, so you may want to maintain a small balance). Here’s a little more info about the two linked accounts:
Once the new Schwab account is open, initiate Moneylink to fund the Schwab account from an existing bank account. It’s the standard process for linking bank accounts online:
Two random micro-deposits are made into your funding account to test whether you are the real owner of the account. Once you see those deposits, you input their amounts inside your Schwab account.
Once an external bank account is linked to your Schwab account, you can send some money to the Schwab account.
Remember how I noted that opening the Schwab account really opens two linked accounts, a brokerage account and a checking account? The incoming money will show up in the brokerage account. It’s a simple, instant, online transfer to send it on to the checking account.
About five days after the checking account is funded, you will get an ATM card in the mail.
(Sarah Page: When I applied for a Schwab Investor Checking Account I was in Argentina at the time. Due to the foreign IP address on the application, Schwab required that I bring in various forms of identification to a brick and mortar bank when I returned stateside before approving my application. I recommend not applying from abroad if you want to make the process as easy as possible.)
Last year, I read a post on Frequent Flyer University about the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account and decided to apply.
I transferred $2,000 to the checking account in anticipation of ATM needs during three weeks abroad.
My first international stop was Macau. I tried to take out a few hundred Hong Kong Dollars, and I got an error message. I called the number on the back of the card, and it turns out I had never set the card’s PIN. On the same call, I inquired about my daily ATM withdrawal limit and was told that it was $1,000.
Later that night, I tried to withdraw 7,000 HKD (
$901) and the transaction was rejected. I didn’t bother to attempt a lower withdrawal amount.
My next stop was Singapore and I successfully used the card to withdraw 200 SGD (
$158) from an ATM.
I can only assume that the transaction in Macau was rejected because of its size, which is confusing because I confirmed a daily withdrawal limit of $1,000 before and after the failed withdrawal in Macau.
Singapore turned out to be more expensive than I anticipated, so I later took out 100 SGD (
$47) in later ATM trips. These small ATM transactions being fee-free is a huge draw of the card for me. With my previous ATM card, I would have paid a $5 fee for using an ATM abroad plus whatever fee the ATM’s owner levied. That would have worked out to about 20% of the value of the cash I was taking out on a $50 withdrawal!
But with the Schwab checking account, if I under-budget, I can take out small amounts of cash without having to pay punitive fees.
Later in London, I took out 100 GBP (
$167) and in Slovenia, I took out 200 EUR (
When I looked into my account at the transactions today, I can confirm that all of them priced at the exchange rate between the local currency and dollars without any ATM fees or any percentage fee for the currency conversion.
If each ATM visit would have cost me $10 between my bank’s and the ATM’s bank’s fees, I saved $50 on my five ATM visits. I saved even more compared to checking accounts that charge a percentage fee for foreign currency withdrawals.
Over the course of this year, I expect the Schwab ATM card to save me over $100. If I travel as much as I’d like in the coming years, I’m sure I’ll reach over $1,000 in savings before the world becomes cash-less, our credit card info is embedded in our retinas, and this blog is downloaded directly into your brain.
But what about a hard credit pull?
When you open a credit card, you get a hard credit pull on your credit report that tends to slightly lower your credit score briefly.
When you open a checking account, some banks initiate a hard pull and others do not.
I did not receive a credit pull from opening the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account that I can see on any of my credit reports. But folks in the comments of this thread (Sarah Page: and more currently, in this Flyertalk thread) reported a credit pull on their Equifax reports.
For me, this was an account worth opening even if there was a credit pull. Think about what a credit pull is worth to you and what you’ll save from having free ATM withdrawals worldwide, and decide whether the account is worth opening even if you get a credit pull.
I finally got serious about saving on ATM fees while abroad by opening a Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account.
After taking my first trip abroad with the ATM card, I see that none of my five ATM visits included any fees. This fee-free access to foreign cash makes traveling a lot easier and cheaper for me.
Unfortunately opening the Schwab account might trigger a hard pull of your credit report. For this reason, opening the account isn’t for everyone. Only people who use foreign ATMs frequently will get enough value to put up with the inconvenience of opening a new account and possibly getting hit with a credit pull.
Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.
If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.