Stop Paying ATM Fees! Get the Charles Schwab Debit Card
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Stop Paying ATM Fees! Get the Charles Schwab Debit Card

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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.


schwab bonuses


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.

Considering a SoFi Money account as well? Make sure to read our Charles Schwab vs. SoFi Money guide to see which account is right for you. 


Choosing a Credit Card for Abroad Travel

While a debit card is great for ATMs. We recommend 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.


Bottom Line

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.


Apply for a Schwab Checking Account

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

23 Responses

  • Thanks for sharing this info. I’ve never used my schwab debit but I’m heading to Japan where they still use cash so this is helpful.

  • Need a debit or credit card I can use in multiple Countries with out calling it in as to what Country I am in. As hard of hearing. As I travel oversea’s. Now retired.

    • This card should do the trick. I have used it to get cash in over 15 countries and have never had any issues.

  • Hey Mr TT

    Great article! I bank with Wells Fargo & the 3% international transaction fees really add up. As a solo female traveller carrying a lot of cash hasn’t ever felt like a safe option. You mentioned they pull your credit when you apply. What is the minimum credit score to qualify?

    • Hello, I don’t believe they have this posted anywhere on the card’s landing page. I would call 800-540-6718 and ask the question.

      • Can you tell me how to successfully use this card in China? I was there in March 2019 and tried many times to get cash from an ATM, and called Schwab many times for help, to no avail. Schwab was not sure what the issue was, they guessed it was due to having a four-digit pin when China pins are 6 digits. They told me to try leading zeros, and when that didn’t work, trailing zeros. Nothing worked, I was never able to use this card at an ATM in China, even at an international bank’s ATM…store purchases were fine, and accepted the 4 digit pin.

        • The Debit Card is VISA. Be aware: the ATM must accept VISA!!!. Few years ago, I was in Japan and couldn’t get cash from several ATMs, then I called Schwab, the Rep. told the ATM must accept VISA!!! From Schwab website, I found the VISA locations, limited locations for VISA, smaller the city, less availability for VISA.
          This article didn’t mention such key important info.

        • The Debit Card is VISA. Be aware: the ATM must accept VISA!!!. Few years ago, I was in Japan and couldn’t get cash from several ATMs, then I called Schwab, the Rep. told the ATM must accept VISA!!! From Schwab website, I found the VISA locations, limited locations for VISA, smaller the city, less availability for VISA. This article didn’t mention such key important info.

    • I don’t think you would be offered the same version. I would call 800-540-6718 to get more information.

  • Not only purchases, but also ATM cash withdrawals are exempted from foreign transaction fees (FTF). That’s the most important point to make about the Schwab account (which I think you missed). Almost every other U.S. bank charges a foreign transaction fee of 1-to-3% for international withdrawals (in ADDITION to any other ATM fee). The only other bank that doesn’t charge an FTF (that I’m aware of) is Capital One, with its Capital One 360 checking account. (PS: For overseas purchases, use a credit card or cash, not a debit card, which doesn’t offer as much protection.)

    • Hi Estelle! To clarify, these aren’t our ATM cards — they’re debit cards through Charles Schwab. And yes, you can use a debit card at any ATM worldwide. Happy traveling!

  • I was in Pakistan from March to July of 2021. I used Charles Schwab debit card to withdraw cash up to 160,000 RS ($1,000) from an ATM daily. The currency conversion rate was better than any currency exchange rates in the market. There were no ATM fees. BTW, the only bank in Pakistan where this card worked was Allied Bank. Card was denied at other banks. I been to over 20 countries and I don’t leave home without his card.

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