Cash is king – and nowhere is that statement truer than it is outside of the US. Anyone who has ever been to a foreign country knows that credit cards are rarely accepted, and if they are accepted, they usually come with some hefty fees. Lets face it, we Americans are used to swiping credit cards for anything here in the US – from a cup of coffee, to a large screen TV. When we travel abroad, however, pulling out a credit card for every little thing is frowned upon and usually met with a weird stare.
The problem is, cash is not that easy to deal with either; you have to carry it around with you and that leads to stress and worry as you cross borders. When you do get to your destination, you have to exchange your money somewhere, and this always opens up the possibility of getting ripped off, or waiting in long lines in some bank only to get to the front of the line to realize you don’t have your passport with you. There is also the nagging question of how much money should you convert, and if its too much, then you either feel the need to spend it all, or have to convert back and get ripped off again. Carrying around too much money on your person can also be dangerous because you might constantly check to make sure it’s still there and run the risk of getting noticed and robbed. ATM machines do exist abroad, but you’ll get dinged with ATM fees, and exchange fees, and you never really know if the exchange is fair until you’re back home to check out your statement, and by then it’s too late.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you can just get cash in foreign countries without any of the hassle? Well here is our way of dealing with it: the Schwab Investor Checking account. It is an ATM card that you can use anywhere in the world, with no ATM fees, no foreign exchange fees, and no limits. Basically, you can go to the ATM as often as you like, and at the end of each month any ATM fees levied by the local ATM are refunded back into your account. You also receive the exchange rate of the day when taking out money, so you will never have to worry about the exchange rate. On top of all those benefits, there are also no monthly fees, and no minimum balances. It’s quite a nice setup, and I’ve moved all my banking over to Schwab since it was so convenient and there are no downsides.
The setup of the account will require a little paperwork, since it is both a brokerage and a checking account, but it’s not a terrible process. Another thing to keep in mind is that this bank is mostly electronic. They have very few service centers, so if you’re one of those people who like to do their banking in person, this is not for you. However, if you can handle online banking, then a Schwab account is something you should consider. Comment below and let us know what you use when you travel abroad.