The Best Fee-Free Debit Cards for International Travel (2023)

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Look, we love earning points and miles through credit card spending as much as the next person – but even in 2023, there are just some things that you can’t buy with plastic. This is especially true when you’re traveling abroad and credit cards aren’t as widely accepted.

Thankfully there’s an easy solution for this dilemma, as several banks and fintech companies now offer debit cards that reimburse both ATM and foreign conversion fees for making cash withdrawals at ATM machines anywhere in the world. What’s more, this will also ensure that you’re getting a fair exchange rate when converting from U.S. dollars to whatever local currency you’re withdrawing.

If you’ve seen the currency exchange kiosks that are common in most international airports, you might be tempted by the convenience of exchanging cash right when you land at your destination, but these kiosks should really be viewed as a last resort. What they offer in convenience is completely nullified by their lack of value. With exchange rates far worse than the true market conversion and additional service fees on top of that, you’ll end up getting much less of your desired currency than you would by withdrawing it from an ATM instead.

Picking the right debit card for your travel needs might be easier said than done, so we’ve rounded up the three best options to help you decide which is the right choice for you. We don’t make any money promoting these checking products below. We simply think they are all great options for getting fee-free access to your cash while traveling abroad.

What is a Debit Card?

This might seem kind of elementary, but I think it’s important to clarify just what a debit card is. Considering most people probably have one of these in their wallet already, it’s probably not a brand-new concept, but it may not be something you think about very often.

We spend a lot of time talking about cards on this site, and how they can help you travel more for less- but most of the time the cards we’re referring to are credit cards, whereby you’re making a purchase on credit, or borrowing money from the issuing bank, with the promise to pay it back. In return, you’re oftentimes rewarded with points, miles, or cash back as a way to incentivize your use of the card.

With a debit card, you’re using your own money for purchases. Debit cards are linked to a checking account, but instead of writing a paper check for your purchase, you use your debit card as a form of payment. When doing so, you’re electronically transferring funds from your bank account to the account of whichever merchant you made your purchase from.

Critically, you can also use debit cards to withdraw cash from your attached checking account. This feature is what makes them such a necessary travel tool for anyone heading abroad. But outside of that, you really shouldn’t be swiping your debit card to make purchases abroad. If your card is compromised, you’ll assume the liability of any lost cash in your checking account until the bank can investigate the situation and reimburse you, which could take weeks.

With credit cards, you won’t assume any liability in the event your card is compromised. Just make sure you have a card that waives foreign transaction fees.

Charles Schwab Investor Checking

For years, we have declared the Charles Schwab debit card as the best for international travel and that’s still true to this day. There are other contenders out there that might be better for some travelers, but it’s impossible to beat the Schwab debit card’s lack of fees, account minimums, and overall customer experience.

With the Schwab debit card, you can take out cash from any ATM anywhere in the world and you’ll get refunded 100% of any withdrawal or ATM fees you pay. It’s a foolproof way to avoid international ATM fees and get the best currency exchange rate possible.

The Best Fee-Free Debit Cards for International Travel (1)

To get the debit card, you’ll need to open a Charles Schwab Investor checking account as well as a linked brokerage account – typically used for investing money.This brokerage account is opened automatically when you open a Schwab checking account, but don’t worry: The brokerage account is also free and has no minimum deposit or fees. Really, you don’t even have to use it.

Here’s what you need to know about the Schwab debit card:

  • Unlimited fee rebates from any ATM worldwide
  • No minimum balance or monthly fees
  • Noforeign transaction feeson debit card purchases or ATM withdrawals
  • Free Standard Checks and Visa debit card
  • Charles Schwab’smobile appallows you to deposit checks with your phone

Read our full review of the Charles Schwab debit card

The Best Fee-Free Debit Cards for International Travel (2)

Learn more about the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account & Debit Card (for full disclosure, this is not an affiliate link).

Almost the entire Thrifty Traveler team uses the Charles Schwab debit card for our international travels and we all swear by it. After years, we’ve never run into issues. Many of us treat our Schwab checking accounts as dedicated travel accounts, simply depositing some cash ahead of each international trip to withdraw while abroad.

Betterment Checking

Betterment is a relative newcomer in the financial services industry, offering digital investing, retirement, and cash management services including a mobile-first checking account, which includes a Visa debit card.

The Best Fee-Free Debit Cards for International Travel (3)

Similar to the Charles Schwab Investor checking account, Betterment also reimburses an unlimited amount of ATM fees and doesn’t pass along any foreign currency conversion fees, making it an excellent choice for travelers. The lack of a minimum balance requirement also makes it a perfect option for a dedicated travel account. Simply deposit funds before your trip and you’re all set to withdraw when you get to your destination!

Here’s what you need to know about the Betterment debit card:

  • Unlimited fee rebates from any ATM worldwide
  • No minimum balance or monthly fees
  • Noforeign transaction feeson debit card purchases or ATM withdrawals
  • No overdraft fees
  • Cash back rewards at top retailers like Costco, Sam’s Club, Adidas, and more

The Best Fee-Free Debit Cards for International Travel (4)

But unlike the checking account from Charles Schwab, you don’t need to have a linked brokerage account with Betterment. For those that invest elsewhere or don’t ever plan to use the Schwab brokerage account, opening a checking account with Betterment may be a better option.

The only real downside with Betterment is that it’s a relatively young company compared to its competitors so it’s tough to say whether they’ll be able to provide these same features and benefits for years to come.

Learn more about the Betterment checking account (for full disclosure, this is not an affiliate link).

Fidelity Cash Management

Fidelity is another long-standing financial institution with a variety of financial service products, ranging from cryptocurrency trading to life insurance. One of the products they offer is a cash management account with an accompanying Visa debit card.

Unlike the Betterment checking account or Schwab Investor checking account, the Fidelity Cash Management account is solely a brokerage account. So while you won’t be getting two separate accounts as you would with Schwab, you’ll be opening a brokerage account in order to have a Fidelity Visa debit card.

Fidelity reimburses you for all ATM fees anywhere in the world, which makes it a great option for international travel. And while Charles Schwab reimburses ATM fees at the end of your statement period, Fidelity will reimburse you on the same day the fee is debited. If getting your money back as soon as possible is a priority, it’s worth looking into opening a Fidelity Cash Management account.

The Best Fee-Free Debit Cards for International Travel (5)

Here’s what you need to know about the Fidelity debit card:

  • Unlimited fee rebates from any ATM worldwide
  • No account fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Competitive Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on cash balances
  • 1% foreign conversion fee on debit card purchases and some cash withdrawals

Fidelity is a sort of middle ground between what you get with Charles Schwab or Betterment accounts. Fidelity doesn’t waive the cash conversion fees for ATM withdrawals or purchases, which puts it at a disadvantage compared to the others. Still, if you already have investment accounts with Fidelity or just want to go with a financial institution that has decades’ worth of experience, this can be a great option for a lot of travelers.

Learn more about the Fidelity Cash Management account (for full disclosure, this is not an affiliate link).

Bottom Line

When you’re traveling abroad, it’s important to have a little bit of the local currency on hand, whether you’re paying for a taxi, tipping the bellhop, or something else.

While most debit cards will work for withdrawing cash abroad, only a select few will reimburse you for any third-party ATM fees and waive the foreign conversion fee on top of it. Having one of these debit cards in your wallet before your next trip will save you time getting access to your cash, and more importantly, can help save you from any unnecessary fees along the way.

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What debit card doesn t charge international fees? ›

Citibank Citi Priority Checking Account

Travel perks including no Citibank fees on ATM withdrawals worldwide and no foreign exchange fees when using debit card abroad. Choose from more than 65,000 fee-free ATMs at Citibank branches and participating retail locations nationwide.

Which debit card is free to use abroad? ›

Top travel debit cards
  • Chase – fee-free spending & withdrawals + 1% cashback.
  • Starling – fee-free spending & cash withdrawals.
  • Virgin Money – fee-free spending & withdrawals.
  • Currensea – links to your existing bank account.
Jun 6, 2023

Which debit card is best for international travel? ›

Best International Debit Card India
  • SBI Global International Debit Card.
  • ICICI Bank Sapphiro International Debit Card.
  • Axis Bank Burgundy Debit Card.
  • HDFC Easy Shop Platinum Debit Card.
  • Yes World Debit Card.
  • HSBC Premier Platinum Debit Card.

How do I avoid international fees on my debit card? ›

These fees can be avoided by choosing a bank account that doesn't charge fees and reimburses out-of-network ATM fees and by always withdrawing local currency from ATMs. Account holders can also ask their home bank if there are partner branches or in-network ATMs in the destination country or countries.

What Visa does not have foreign transaction fees? ›

Here are Select's picks for the best credit cards without foreign transaction fees:
  • Best for Cash Back: Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card.
  • Best for Dining Out and Restaurants: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card.
  • Best for Luxury Travel: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Should you use a debit card when traveling internationally? ›

The main advantage of using a debit or credit card overseas is that you won't pay foreign transaction fees every time you spend. While many also won't charge fees for cash withdrawals, you will still usually be charged interest from the date of the transaction if you use a credit card.

What banks have no international fees? ›

Here are the best banks and best checking accounts that don't charge ATM foreign transaction fees:
  • Aspiration.
  • Betterment.
  • Charles Schwab.
  • Capital One.
  • Alliant Credit Union.
  • First Republic Bank.
  • Fidelity.
  • USAA.
Feb 6, 2023

Which debit card is best for Europe travel? ›

Best travel debit cards
  • Chase current account. Best debit card to use abroad. ...
  • Starling Bank current account* Another good travel debit card. ...
  • Halifax Clarity. Best if you are only using it abroad, plus get £20 cashback. ...
  • Barclaycard Rewards. ...
  • Metro Bank Credit Card (in Europe) ...
  • Zopa. ...
  • Revolut* ...
  • Wise.

Is there a debit card that I can use internationally? ›

Yes, you can use your debit card internationally, though you may incur foreign transaction fees. Depending on where you travel, you might find merchants that only accept cash — or may only accept cards from specific issuers — so it's a good idea to have a mix of payment methods with you.

Is it better to use a debit or credit card internationally? ›

Yes, using a credit card internationally is the best way to go about paying for things when you're abroad. It's safer because you don't have to carry as much cash, and all major credit card companies offer $0 fraud liability guarantees.

How do I get foreign transaction fees waived? ›

How to Get a Foreign Transaction Fee Waived
  1. Contact the credit card's customer service department and request they waive the fee.
  2. Cite your history as a loyal customer, the frequency with which you travel abroad, or other reasons that could justify the fee waiver.
Dec 8, 2022

How do I know if my debit card has international fees? ›

*Foreign debit card purchase cost refers to foreign transaction fees — often 1% to 3% — and currency conversion fees (if applicable). These fees will typically show up on your monthly statement.

How can you avoid fees when traveling abroad? ›

Exchange cash before leaving the United States

You can avoid all transaction fees by paying for your purchases in cash while you're abroad. Banks and currency exchange stores will exchange U.S. dollars for most major currencies, and you can do this before you leave.

Do Visa debit cards have international fees? ›

Visa and Mastercard both charge a fee of 1%. Regardless of the type of credit card, this fee is applied to all transactions.

Which country is Visa free on US Visa? ›

Visa Free Countries for the US Citizens in 2023
  • Albania.
  • American Samoa **
  • Andorra.
  • Anguilla.
  • Antigua and Barbuda.
  • Argentina.
  • Armenia.
  • Aruba.

Does Chase debit card have foreign transaction fees? ›

$5 per withdrawal and $3 for any transfers or inquiries at ATMs outside the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

What is the difference between debit card and international debit card? ›

Essentially, an international debit card is not a separate card – it is your local debit card with global access. You need to activate your local debit card for international transactions before travelling abroad.

Should I take my debit card to Europe? ›

Key Takeaways. European travelers should always have some cash on hand; getting it from an ATM abroad is usually the easiest, most advantageous way. If you need cash from an ATM, it's usually better to use a debit card, because credit cards often charge a high interest rate for a cash advance.

Is it free to use Visa debit card abroad? ›

On top of the margin added to the exchange rate, you might also have to pay a foreign transaction fee when you spend overseas using your Visa debit card. This is a charge for using your card in another country. It may be a flat fee, but it's usually a percentage of the amount you spend.

Which bank has best international services? ›

Revolut: Best Digital Bank for International Accounts. HSBC: Best for No Monthly Fees. Capital One 360: Best for No Foreign Transaction Fees. Bank of America: Best for Multiple Currencies.

Does Wells Fargo charge international fees? ›

The Wells Fargo Cash Wise foreign transaction fee is 3%. This fee gets assessed both for purchases made while traveling outside of the United States and online, through international merchants. The fee is within the 1%-3% range that other issuers charge for foreign transactions.

Are travel money cards worth it? ›

Quite simply, you can save a lot of money with a travel credit card. If it's your main card on holiday, then you can potentially save a fortune in fees. Specialist travel cards do not charge fees for foreign spending, unlike most everyday credit cards.

What is the best way to pay when traveling in Europe? ›

How should I pay when traveling in Europe?
  1. Credit card. Credit cards can offer convenience and protection, like security alerts and $0 liability for unauthorized charges, when you're traveling. ...
  2. Debit card. ...
  3. Digital wallet. ...
  4. Cash. ...
  5. Traveler's checks. ...
  6. Keep your options open.
Mar 30, 2022

What cards to bring when travelling? ›

What to Bring
  • Debit card: Use this at cash machines (ATMs) to withdraw local cash.
  • Credit card: Handy for bigger purchases (at hotels, shops, restaurants, travel agencies, car-rental agencies, and so on), payment machines, and ordering online.

Does American Express charge for foreign transaction fee? ›

The American Express foreign transaction fees are 2.7% of all international transactions or 0%, depending on the card. There are plenty of American Express cards with no foreign transaction fees. Those cards tend to be the best options for travel.

Does Apple pay charge international fees? ›

Apple Pay doesn't charge you any foreign transaction fee when you make a mobile payment using its service². However, if your card issuer or bank levies a foreign transaction fee, this will still apply — which means that there may still be a cost when you shop online or in person using Apple Pay.

Does Bank of America debit card have foreign transaction fees? ›

Whenever possible, use your ATM or debit card at one of our international partner ATMs. If you use a non-partner ATM, you may be charged fees by both Bank of America and the ATM operator. A Bank of America International Transaction Fee of 3% will apply when converting your currency.

How can I use my phone internationally without charges? ›

Use Wi-Fi. One of the easiest ways to avoid international roaming charges is to connect to Wi-Fi networks. Most hotels, cafes, and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi. You can also purchase a portable Wi-Fi device or use a local SIM card that includes data usage.

What should I do with my cell phone when traveling internationally? ›

3 Tips For Using Your Cellphone Internationally
  1. Put your phone in airplane mode. Only use it (besides features such as the camera) when you can connect to Wi-Fi. ...
  2. Get an international plan. Every phone carrier offers its customers international plans, which vary. ...
  3. Buy a prepaid SIM card.

What is the best way to pay for things when traveling abroad? ›

Using credit cards for purchases and using ATMs to get local currency are the best options when abroad. Avoiding cash as much as possible won't saddle you with extra unspent currency when you leave a country.

Can I use my debit card abroad for free? ›

You may be charged for using your debit or credit card abroad to buy something or when you withdraw cash in a foreign currency. What you'll pay depends on the transaction you make and the card you use. You can also compare EEA currency conversion charges while travelling.

Can all Visa debit cards be used internationally? ›

Yes, anywhere Visa is accepted. Visa fees will apply, and it will show on your statement as an international 1% transaction service fee.

Will my debit card have international fees? ›

Similar to the fee on some credit cards, your bank could charge a foreign transaction or foreign exchange fee equal to a percentage of the amount you withdraw or spend if you're using your debit card for purchases.

How much does it cost to use debit card overseas? ›

International transaction fee: 3% of the transaction value.

Is it better to use debit or credit card abroad? ›

Credit cards are widely accepted around the world and can also serve as a deposit, e.g., when renting a car. Credit card transaction fees are typically higher than debit cards. Most banks charge an average conversion fee of 2% for a credit card payment, that's 1% more than for a debit card payment.

How do I know if my debit card works internationally? ›

How would I know if my debit, credit or ATM card is accepted overseas? Check if your ATM card has a Visa or PLUS logo. If it does, it will be accepted at any ATM that is marked with the same logos.

Which card works internationally? ›

Note that international usage is only provided on Visa and MasterCard debit cards.

What is the difference between a Visa debit card and a debit card? ›

What is a Visa Debit Card? A Visa Debit card acts like a normal debit card, meaning it pulls funds directly from the cardholder's bank account, however they also have the capability to use the credit card networks allowing them to be used where a typical Visa is accepted.


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