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What bank should I create an account with and get credit cards with for Europe trip?

I read that all of these banks are charging crazy fees for credit card purchases and withdrawals from ATMs for cash when in Europe.

Can someone just simply tell me what bank I should create an account with that will not charge me any fees (or the lowest) for cash withdrawals or credit card purchases when I go on the 21 Best of Europe Tour in 2015? That way I can sign up with them and keep my expenses low since I currently use Bank of America.

Posted by
177 posts

I opened an account with Capital One Quicksilver card for the same trip next year. They do not charge anything for foreign transactions. As for debit cash (ATM) I am going to use my credit union. I am going to open a separate account just for this trip in case anything happens there will only be the travel money.

Posted by
8372 posts

I don't know if there is just one answer for this. Andrews Federal Credit Union issues a true chip and pin credit card and membership is open to anyone in the service or belonging to a consumer group that you can join for $5.

You will find a wide range of suggestions because it really depends on what your needs are. If I were going to open an account for the express purpose of having a card for a European trip, I think I would make sure it was a card with the chip and pin technology. It isn't absolutely necessary, but it does provide a few more options once you are there.

Good Luck.

Posted by
9363 posts

You can probably do just as well by shopping around among your local credit unions. My credit union charges absolutely nothing for withdrawals abroad. I also have a debit card with an online bank, Ally, that I use as a backup because they charge 1%. There are a number of credit cards that charge no foreign transaction fee, as well. Never use a credit card in an ATM unless it is an extreme emergency. It is considered a cash advance, and interest starts accruing immediately, at a higher rate. And make sure that you inform your bank/credit union and any credit card issuers when and where you will be traveling.

Posted by
2739 posts

I know there are others, but we've been fine with CapitalOne.

We have "Hi-Yield Money Market Account". Aside from the 1 point something interest (big Whoop). we get free ATM cards with no fees from Cap One for usage. And, wife and I each have our own card, so that means we each get the daily withdrawal allowance from the account, $600. They're in the Cirrus Network, our cash costs about .6 of 1 Percent over the published interbank rate when we withdraw from a foreign ATM (don't know about here, we use this account only for travel abroad). We handle it all via internet, authorize deposits transferred in advance from our regular bank. Minimum balance is so low I can't remember, I think it's a buck.

We also use their credit card, we use their plain garden variety Mastercard, it pays 1.25% cashback on everything, and we can request this as an account balance as we feel like, we don't have to wait for $50 (or whatever) increments. Best of all, no foreign transaction fee. The purchases always go at the interbank rate (unlike the Cirrus ATM network, since no friction to get cash), so as long as we are comfortable using the card it's actually cheaper than cash.

Their customer service has always been excellent and their online set-up is easy to use.

But like I said, this is not the only option out there. PS -I do not, nor has anyone in my family, ever worked for them.

Posted by
715 posts

I use CapitalOne and my local banks ATM card for cash. I pay for almost everything in cash.

Posted by
11294 posts

Some names that come up frequently as having low fees for foreign use:

-Capital One credit cards (not necessarily their ATM cards)

-TD Bank ATM cards (not their credit cards)

-Charles Schwab

-credit unions

As always, you have to check the particulars of the SPECIFIC account, as these can differ even within the same bank. These can also change, so if you're really determined to minimize fees, you have to check them again just before you travel.

If you say where you live, people may be able to give you local options.

Posted by
4535 posts

All good options. I will offer a different one. Why add a new credit card and a new checking account for a three week trip? There are potential negative consequences to opening new credit accounts and you will have to manage those new accounts. You really won't pay more than about 3% to your bank and credit card for using what you already have. Figure out how much you expect to spend and multiply that by 0.03 and see if it is really worth it to you. If so, go for it.

Posted by
1626 posts

Several years ago, we opened up a Capital One checking account for our trips to Europe to save the 3% Bank of the West charged for ATM withdrawals. Since we planned on paying everything with cash from ATM withdrawals including hotels, that equated to around $150.00, which is not chump change. We've now used the card on 5 international trips, so I figure we've saved a minimum of $500 in fees. This is our "vacation account" and I have a % of my paycheck direct deposited in this account, so funds are already in the account ready for our trip. Another reason I like having a separate checking account is that in the even our ATM cards were lost or stolen, we wouldn't have to worry about the BOW account getting cleaned out and messing up bills I had set up to pay in my absence.

We also have a Chase United Explorer Visa with zero transaction fees. We'll use this for any car rentals, advance purchases, hotel reservation guarantee, and purchases that we'll take home with us. This card also has great travel insurance and car rental insurance coverage.

Posted by
548 posts

My husband and I also use the Capital One credit card. We also use a "vacation" checking account for debit card use. Just makes me feel better not to use an ATM that is connected to all of our money.

Posted by
224 posts

We've been using a Charles Schwab Visa debit card to get cash from overseas ATMs (no fees) and a Capital One Visa credit card for purchases (no foreign purchase surcharges) for years. I don't know how much we've saved but it has to be in the hundreds of dollars.

Posted by
18 posts

I just contacted USAA to request a free Chip & PIN credit card format for our upcoming Europe trip, it's for military connected only. While it does have the Chip & PIN, it also has a magnetic strip that can be used here at home. However, they do charge a 1% foreign transaction fee. I use Capital One for debit card purposes to withdraw from an ATM and only when traveling internationally as they do not have the transaction fees. I actually think it is a good idea to keep it separate from your usual checking/debit card accounts. It offers some protection in case of loss or theft.