Credit cards & Foreign transactions

One of my favorite topics. Money.
I have several cards that have no exchange fees. One in particular with Charles Schwab is strictly dedicated to the transfer and withdrawal of cash in foreign countries and no fees, no minimums etc. Super easy at most any ATM machine.
I also use credit cards that offer miles/points and rewards that benefit the travelers lifestyle.

I will be establishing offshore banking in the near future.

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Yes, I’ve heard several times that Charles Schwab is the card to have if one is traveling. Pity there’s not something like it in Canada…

Hopefully some Canadians on here will have some recommendations that will work for you. I would imagine there should be something in place yet to be discovered.
Best wishes.

If you have a US address - Schwab Bank’s ATM card is fee free and refunds any charges by the ATM owner. But you need to have a Schwab brokerage account to have a Schwab bank account - for getting cash overseas.
There are a few other US banks that reimburse fees as well - see this article from The Points Guy from March 2021.

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We are based in the UK and have used our Monzo and Revolut cards worldwide with no issues for around 5 years now. I don’t withdraw money that often so I’m not sure on the fees abroad but when paying by card it uses the current exchange rate and has always been good. When you make a payment a notification comes up on your phone in the local currency and what it would have been in £

This is good to know - thank you. You’re right that very little cash is used these days so using a card with a reasonable exchange rate to pay for services is what’s needed.

Yes they have been very useful. We now use them as our main bank accounts too which makes it easier when travelling abroad with not needing to change any money in advance :slight_smile:

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Question for THS US members - any credit or debit cards that you can recommend?
Unfortunately the US banking system is a bit behind compared to the rest of the word. Our primary credit card with Bank of America was only recently upgraded to contactless/touchless payments and I think the pandemic was the primary reason for that. The card however still doesn’t have 3D security and it is frequently rejected when we try to make online payments - airfare, train or bus tickets. Previously we were able to add travel dates to our bank dashboard and any transaction during the dates and countries added we automatically approved. Now that feature went away and if the card is declined we have to call the Bank Customer Service to get the transaction approved. Sometimes that could take up to half an hour and it could be very frustrating. Even recently when we purchased tickets through the Air France’s US website the card still got declined. On one occasion in South Korea the card left us stranded without tickets on the metro and only because of a kind policeman we were able to get to our hotel.
You may think, oh great they have great fraud prevention security. Unfortunately not and when Mrs Bun purse was stolen from her office and the thieves went on shopping spree at Best Buy, the bank didn’t block the transactions. It took a month and a police report to get the charges reimbursed.

So last year we switched to Sofi and their debit card has been great with about 99% approval rate, but on occasion the card may still get declined. Ideally we would prefer to have a good travel credit card, not debit card with 3D security, no ATM fees and no foreign transaction fees.
Any recommendations are appreciated.

Charles Schwab
Open an interest earning checking account
No minimum balance
No transaction fees
No foreign transaction fees
Withdraw up to $1,000 daily
Transfer funds in and out no fees
They will issue a visa debit card

Love it never leave home without it :wink:
Go online and do your research
You can open new account today if you choose

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Revolut. As a full-time traveler changing countries and currencies on an (almost) “daily” basis Revolut works best for me.

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Thank you @Amparo and @RadarInc have you had any rejected transactions with these cards? What the banks are calling “unusual activity” transactions.

In 5 years, no
Have used it in 9 countries

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Never in the past five years.

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As an update for Canadians, Wise now offers their card to us! We’ve been using ours for months in the UK and Europe and it’s fantastic! We load up our Canadian dollar virtual account and convert to whatever currency we need when the rate is favourable.

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For an ATM card, I’ll join the endorsers for the Schwab card. In addition to no fees and refunding any foreign fees, the exchange rate is at market. I think I’ve had mine for at least 10 years, probably longer and never had it declined. I do take the time to go online and file travel notices with Schwab - used to require a phone call, now you can do it online. I’ve used it in all the “standard” commonly visited countries, but also in Cambodia (where the ATMs dispense US$), South Africa, India, Vietnam.
For credit cards, I’m very happy with my Chase Sapphire Reserve - it is pricey but for me the various benefits outweigh the cost and my balance of payments is positive even with the high annual fee. The Sapphire Preferred is cheaper with fewer benefits. I’ve used the card as my touch card for transit systems all over the UK. Chase doesn’t allow you to submit a travel notice anymore, somehow they figure things out.

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I do the same with my Wise account. Wherever I travel I simply change a certain amount with very little fees from my home account to the desired virtual currency account. Best decision ever to use Wise!

Did you notice that you can set a rate that you’d like to convert at and it will be done automatically when that rate is reached? No more faffing about “I should have changed when the pound was X”.
Love it!

Really? No, I didn’t notice. I’ll check it out, thank you so much :pray:t3:

When we took money from a cash machine on arrival at Gatwick airport, we got dinged an incredibly high amount for the exchange fees. We had a choice on how we wanted to do the exchange and maybe we chose wrong, or maybe it’s because it was an ATM at an airport, not really sure.

Anyway, we need to take some cash out now and we are wondering if any Canadians on the forum can provide some help. I know it’s best to get money from a bank ATM rather than one at a small shop etc, but is there anything else we should look for?

Also, what is the best choice when asked how we want to do the exchange?

Always choose the local currency. This is true at ATMs and when paying with a credit card. Never allow the machine to do the conversion for you (it’s called dynamic currency conversion if you want to look it up and read about how bad it is).

Try to use ATMs inside of banks, whenever possible. They are less likely to have card skimmers and their fees will likely not be as high as those in airports, retail locations, etc.

N/A to ATMs, but you also might want to consider a credit card with no FX fees if you don’t already have one. Canadians have far fewer options, of course, but there are some out there (I use the no-annual fee Brim card; ScotiaBank with an annual fee is popular).

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