You're bringing your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM machine while living in a foreign country, aren't you? We highly recommend it. This is the easiest way of handling your finances while living abroad for four months.
Just so you know, your bank sets the fee for withdrawing cash from an international ATM. So the question is, are you getting the best rates?
Traveling on a budget?
Here's a guide with all our tips on saving extra money.
ATM's are very convenient while traveling because yes, the currency comes out as the local country's currency. We've done a little research for you on some of the more common banks that ILP volunteers use and their ATM fees. Trust us, it's worth looking into so that you can potentially save yourself a bit of cash!
Check Out These Banks And Credit Unions
Here is a list of common banks ILP volunteers use. Find yours to see what fees you can expect to pay while abroad.
*These fees were correct as of the date of this post, but you'll want to double check the current rates before signing up with a new bank account or traveling abroad.
Wells Fargo and Chase Banks
$5 to withdraw from a non affiliated ATM + 3% of the transaction amount.
(3% transaction fee on purchases)
Bank of America
$5 fee to withdraw from an ATM + 1% of the transaction amount.
**If you withdraw from an ATM within their "Global ATM Alliance", there ARE NO FEES! In Ukraine this means UkrSibbank, in Mexico this means Banco Santander, in the Dominican Republic use Scotia Bank, and in China use China Construction Bank.
Can't get better than no fees, eh?
$2.00 fee for withdrawal from non-Zions Bank ATM and 3% of total transaction amount.
(3% fee on purchases)
$2.50 fee for withdrawal from non-Citibank ATM and 3% of total transaction amount.
(3% fee on purchases)
Key Bank offers a World Debit MasterCard which has no ATM withdrawal fees and no transaction fees. Can't go wrong with no fees!
Capital One Bank
$0 fee and 0% foreign transaction fee
Charles Schwab Bank
$0 fee when using a debit card for an international ATM. Also offers ATM fee reimbursements if you are charged by mandatory country fees.
America First Credit Union
$1.50 fee and 1% of the transaction amount
(1% on purchases)
*America First has waived ATM fees for volunteers in the past when they submit a letter proving that they are volunteering during their semester abroad. Speak with the Credit Union about this to see if they will honor that for you. ILP will be happy to produce a letter like that for you.
$2.50 fee to withdraw plus 3% of the amount for a foreign transaction fee.
(3% fee for purchases)
Mountain America Credit Union
$1.50 fee to withdraw from and ATM plus a 1% international Visa fee
+Tips That Will Help You
Look Into A Credit Union Instead Of A Bank
Overall, it seems that credit unions tend to have smaller fees than banks, however you can't beat the waived fee possibilities with a couple of the major banks on this list.
*Check out this useful comparison chart comparing many more financial institutions.
Do your research at your current bank or credit union. If you don't get great rates are your current bank it can be worth looking into opening a checking account somewhere else before you go abroad.
Make Sure Your Card Has Chip
Most credit and debit cards have a chip in them now. If yours doesn't, it's best to order a new one for your trip. A chip will make things easier abroad because most places accept a chip over just sliding your card.
Let Your Bank Know You're Going Abroad
Make sure you give your bank a call before you go abroad. Let them know what countries you'll be visiting so they can put a note on your account. Some banks require that you let them know, while others don't need to know so it's just better to be safe than sorry. There's the potential that your bank could freeze your card if they see a charge in somewhere like Costa Rica and they didn't know you were traveling (for your protection).
Ready for a semester abroad with ILP?
You'll be teaching English (no experience necessary!) or volunteering in an orphanage in one of our countries all over the world, but still have free time every day and every weekend for more adventures. Plus, you'll get vacation time to explore more cities or even new countries.