Stop carrying loads of money with you on your travels, exchanging currency at the airport, or paying exorbitant ATM fees abroad.
If you travel even semi-regularly, you need the Charles Schwab debit card. This free checking account is a must in any traveler’s wallet because it means you’ll never pay ATM fees, in the U.S. or internationally. We don’t get paid to promote this card – it’s just the best solution for travelers to get money while on the road.
Here’s everything you need to know about setting up a Charles Schwab account for your travels.
Say No to Currency Exchange Services
Always avoid the currency exchange counter at the airport. They exist for one reason and one reason only: to make money off of you. They profit from the poor exchange, which is why you see them everywhere abroad. Always take money out of an ATM with your debit card for the best exchange rate.
The Schwab debit card allows you to take out cash from any ATM anywhere in the world with and promptly refunds 100% of any withdrawal or ATM fees you pay. This is a foolproof way to avoid international ATM fees and get the best currency exchange rate possible. Schwab reimburses you monthly for ATM fees charged by all outside vendors.
No airport currency exchange kiosks or sketchy exchange rate counters; you get the absolute best currency exchange rate possible in every city by simply pulling cash out of the ATM. And if there’s no ATM fee for the withdraw? This is as good as it gets, folks!
This ATM reimbursement works at ATMs anywhere in the U.S. or abroad. This means even if you don’t have international travel coming up soon, you can save on ATM fees in the U.S. as well. There are also no fees for having a Schwab checking account. It’s easy to apply: simply open a checking account with Charles Schwab and receive your debit card that unlocks free ATM use everywhere in the world.
Thrifty Tip: Don’t have a Schwab Debit Card yet? Use this link and earn up to an extra $500, based upon how much you deposit. We don’t take any commission from this – it’s just a benefit of signing up as a new user with our referral link.
Highlights of the Schwab Checking Account
- Unlimited fee rebates from any ATM worldwide
- No minimum balance or monthly fees
- No foreign transaction fees on debit card purchases or ATM withdrawals
- Free Standard Checks and Visa debit card
- Schwab mobile app allows you to deposit checks with your phone
Applying for the Schwab Checking Account
The name of this account is technically the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor checking account. But hang with us – it’s much simpler than it sounds.
When applying for your Schwab High Yield Investor checking account, you will also be required to open a Schwab brokerage account if you don’t already have one. This brokerage account is opened automatically when you open a Schwab checking account, but don’t worry: The brokerage account is free and has no minimum deposit or fees. That means you can use the checking account and never worry about the brokerage side.
Schwab may do a credit pull to obtain your credit report in order to be approved for an account. This is the only drawback of the Schwab debit card, but considering you don’t need to pay any extra or put any money into the brokerage account, it’s not a deal-breaker. I leave my brokerage account empty and go on my merry way, getting reimbursed for ATM fees worldwide.
Schwab is an online-only bank so keep another account at a local bank or credit union to deposit cash. After depositing locally, you can transfer the cash deposit to your Schwab account. I’ve had my Schwab card for about six months now and find the online platform really easy to use.
Choosing a Credit Card for Abroad Travel
While a debit card is great for ATMs. We recommending using a credit card for all other purchases, primarily for the liability protection against fraud. Make sure to always travel with a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
Thrifty Tip: If you are ever asked if you want to pay for an item in U.S. Dollars or the local currency, always choose the local currency. You will lose in the currency conversion if you pay in U.S. Dollars.
We don’t have any affiliate ties to Schwab or get paid for promoting their card. We just think it’s an insanely lucrative card that every traveler should be aware of. It’s one of our top recommendations to save money on travel.
Stop paying ATM fees or terrible currency exchange rates. Apply for your own Schwab checking account and get the best debit card out there for your next trip.