I know Rick says to use cash as much as possible. Well, the fees on all of my credit cards and bank ATM card are steep for ATM withdrawals. Even the CapitalOne card charges 3% for cash withdrawals. Is there a recommended bank with low or no fees? Can I just use my credit card most of the time?
You can use your credit card at places that will take it, but lots of places don't, which is probably why Rick and most folks on this Forum recommend cash. Many, if not most, credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee (likely about 3 percent). Schwab Bank doesn't. Capital One doesn't on its credit cards (not sure about your situation). Some credit unions don't, but I think most do. Some Bank of America credit cards don't (but most do, I believe). I'd clarify what is going on with the Capital One charge you describe, because Capital One is often the best option. I use Schwab Bank for my ATM/debit card and Capital One for credit purchases. I also use two other credit union cards for ATM withdrawals, but pay a fee. If you withdraw $100, at 3 percent it costs $3. That's not nothing, but it shouldn't kill your trip. I look at the fees as part of the high cost of this type of travel ($30 on a $1,000 withdrawal is still not that much, relatively speaking, especially when compared to what you'll pay for food, transportation, and lodging).
You need to call Capital One and get an explanation, perhaps you have the wrong account. We have their Hi-Yield Money Market account, and we are charged no fees by them for ATM withdrawals - here, there, anywhere. The cash from foreign ATMs comes at a premium of less than 1% over the interbank exchange rate published for that day, which cannot be improved upon. As has been noted on this board many many times, bank-owned ATMs in Europe do not charge a fee for use. We also have their basic credit card, not with any fancy name. We get 2% cashback on gas and grocery store purchases, 1% cashback on everything else, and no foreign transaction fees.
We have always found their customer service excellent.
There are a number of cheaper options if you shop around. I use a debit card from a small, local credit union. They charge me absolutely nothing to make foreign withdrawals. The rate on my statement is the going rate for the day of the withdrawal. I have no per-use fee or currency conversion fee. I also carry, as a backup, a debit card from an online bank. I can move funds between these two accounts, so if one card was to be lost or damaged, I can still get to the money in both accounts. The online bank is Ally, and it charges 1% currency conversion fee. Ally refunds ATM charges you might be charged at an ATM in the States. Abroad, bank-owned ATMs do not charge fees. Any fees come from your own bank. Is your Capital One card a credit card or a debit card? Their debit cards do not charge fees for ATM withdrawals, and their credit cards do not charge currency conversion fees for purchases. If you are talking about taking a cash advance from your credit card, yes, they would charge fees (and immediately accruing interest).
I don't think anybody ever said to use your credit card at an ATM (well, nobody with any sense). Of course, if you use a credit card to withdraw cash at an ATM (this is called a cash advance) you are going to get murdered. It's a super-high interest rate loan, with the interest starting to pile up the instant the cash comes out of the machine - a terrible, terrible option. Use your ATM card from your local bank at home to withdraw cash from your checking/savings account when overseas. The fee should be small - if it's not, your bank probably figures they have a sucker for a customer. The credit card company you mention is notorious for being deceptive and treating their customers as if they were fools. I would be very wary of any claims they make. As for using your credit card (to charge things) while overseas, you may find that in smaller shops they either prefer not to accept plastic, or may impose a fee for paying with credit card - this is quite common in many places. Also, depending on what credit card you use, you may or may not pay additional fees and/or get an unfavorable exchange rate. You need to do a little homework to find out which cards you can use without getting hosed and which cards you should avoid like the plague. There are good cards and bad ones. Make sure you know which you have before leaving.
Here's the page Elle was referring to. Read all of the links, and you'll be a pro: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/money-travel-tips.htm Something that I don't think was said yet on this thread, although it's often said on others: you may think the fees are "too high," but they're still far better than exchanging cash, either in the US or in Europe. Someone posted that Wells Fargo had good exchange rates for cash, but most banks and exchange bureaus have bad rates, high commissions, or both. I use TD bank, which has ATM cards with no fees in Europe. I just looked - they have branches in South Carolina and Florida, but no Georgia (talk about close, but no cigar).
In reality, there are no "new" questions in any category. Those of us who have been here for years have answered the same questions over and over. Separating by topic would only make it more confusing and wouldn't stop repeat questions. There is, after all, an FAQ post on every section of the helpline which covers many of the basic questions, but people don't read it, either. It wasn't but a week or so ago that someone suggested there BE an FAQ - but they have been there since 2009. The guy had never noticed them.
Maybe we could make something round.........................and put it under a cart.......................instead of skids.....................to make it easier to haul stuff. And have a concurrent project to build an axel.
Is there a Kickstarter campaign I can contribute to for that, Ed? Sounds promising.
My apologies for asking for assistance with other info available on the site. I didn't know about the money matters section. However, thanks for the guidance here. I will call capital one for clarification. Also, I didn't know that arms of bank s don't add a fee. That makes me feel better because I assumed another charge there. Also,I'll look into joining the credit union and see if they charge ftf s.
Janet, There are options that charge nothing - but usually come with deposit requirements, brokerage accounts, or other limitations that may or may not work for you. There are also plenty of banks and credit unions that charge a flat one percent on all foreign ATM withdrawals. I think that's a reasonable fee (I don't expect free). The one I chose is USAA's Federal Savings Bank (you don't have to be military to use their banking services). I originally opened it when Wachovia became Wells Fargo and jacked their fee up to 3 percent plus 5 dollars per transaction. Sometimes we jump right in and answer questions that have been asked many times before. Other times we seem to be testy about repeating ourselves. I'm not sure what makes the contributors fall on one side or the other.
Just verified with CapitalOne that there is a 3% charge, no grace period on interest and a very high interest rate and no grace period to boot. I will look into getting a CapitalOne Money Market account. That would seem to be the way out of the fee and interest. I just have a credit card that has no FTFs, so I can be happy about that. My own bank, SunTrust, will charge 3% on withdrawals from my account plus a $2 charge. I'm reconciling to the fact that this is the best I can do given that we leave next week. At least they can't charge me interest on withdrawing my own money. I'm happy to learn the trick from previous posts that I should make sure to withdraw from a bank ATM. Thank you to those who mentioned considering a credit union, Schwab Bank and USAAs Federal Savings Bank. If I had more time, I'd look into those options, but I can't pull it off for this trip. I will do better next time. Thanks to everyone who had helpful information.
Just to clarify for others, it looks like the 3 percent fee is a cash advance fee on a credit card used to withdraw cash, not a foreign transaction fee. Capital One is still a good credit card to use when one is using it as a credit card.
Not sure that's right about Capital One. They bought ING, not the other way
around. Web site still shows no foreign transaction fee on credit cards.
About a year ago Capital One was bought out (by ING I think). I had a long conversation with them at the time and was told that they were no longer offering accounts with no-fee ATM cards but the terms for existing accounts would continue.
I'm with Nancy and Ed. The same questions will come up over and over. Some people don't see the search option or don't use it well or don't get good results or just find it easier to ask their question. I see a lot of questions that I can answer immediately by a quick internet search. If I found it, so could that person. Live with it. If you don't have the time or inclination to answer, just move on. just sayin' . . .
Looking back,I wasn't clear about the CapitalOne credit card. There are no foreign transaction fees for regular credit card charges abroad. That's a good deal. They charge 3% fees for using this card to withdraw cash plus and outrageous interest rate. I don't know if that is a ftf or just a charge for withdrawing cash.
But that's for their Credit Card.
You want a debit card linked to the Cap One checking account for cash withdrawals - no fees.
We use Capital One for any credit card purchases and Charles Schwab debit card. We opened both just for our travels. The Charles Schwab can be opened even if they are not in your area. You can deposit checks by mail. I think we also had to open a brokerage account, but we just put a couple dollars into it so we could have the debit linked to the checking account. I think they require both accounts. The people are very nice over the phone and we've had no problems. And, No Fees at all!
For the Charles Schwab debit card you can also transfer money electronically (by an ACH transaction) from your "regular" account to the Schwab account. So no need to even write a check to make a deposit. I, too, use Capital One as my credit card and Schwab as my debit card. (I also have two other debit cards for two other financial institutions, just in case.)