Using credit cards/getting cash internationally

So many posts to put up, so little time!!!


When traveling overseas, there are a bunch of options to get local currency, and make large purchases.  I’ll give what I feel are the best ways to get the most bang out for your (seemingly worthless) buck.

Credit purchases
As a mileage hoarder, I try to make any purchases with a credit card that earns me miles.  Here are a few cards that I know that don’t incur any international transaction fees.
  • American Express Centurion
  • American Express Platinum
  • Capital One Venture
  • British Airways Chase Visa
  • Continental Presidential Plus Chase
So while I’m on these trips the next couple weeks, I’ll be putting everything on my Amex Platinum.
Getting Cash
The best way to get cash with the best rate is via ATMs.  They use a rate published for the day (either on the Visa/MC website or I think it can also be found in the Wall Street Journal).  It is up to the bank/provider to charge a commission to make any money from your transaction.  There are many several debit cards that offer no international transaction fees, but some do charge an ATM fee (usually a flat rate).  The absolute BEST card for getting cash at an ATM is a Schwab card.  They charge no int’l fees, no ATM fees, AND they rebate you any fees charged by the owner of the ATM.  So you aren’t losing any money from the transaction.  However, after checking today, their regular debit card will only reimburse you up to $XX.00 in ATM owner fees per month.  But if you can get a Schwab Platinum Check Card, it has unlimited reimbursements.  (See bottom on how to get one for free)
The next best way are through traveler’s cheques.  TC’s get a slightly better rate than cash, but are so antiquated I don’t actually use them.  And my signature is so inconsistent, I may get denied my money at certain places.
And cash gets the worst rate out of the three (though still not terrible).  The spread between actual price and sell price is relatively wide, compared to taking money out of an ATM.  But if you have some leftover cash from your originating country, unless you want to take some home as a souvenir, changing it at the airport is just convenient and not worth fretting over.
{Free Schwab Platinum Check Card via High Yield Investor Checking}

You can get that card if you simultaneously sign up for a Schwab One (stock brokerage) account which is linked with a Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account.  When you sign up and have those two accounts linked, there are no minimum deposit nor minimum balance requirements.  I got those two and didn’t have any money in there for months.  You can easily transfer money in there from external bank accounts with no charge.  That’s how I funded it.  And there you go.
Schwab has awesome phone customer service reps.  I would even go to say they are equally matched with American Express CSRs.


One Response to “Using credit cards/getting cash internationally”

  1. A few more cards worth that don’t incur a foreign exchange fee:

    Chase Sapphire Preferred
    Chase Ink Bold
    Chase Hyatt Visa Signature

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