Bank fees when travelling overseas can be prohibitive, there are ways to prevent giving away your hard earned cash.
- Check with your bank about foreign ATM transaction fees before you travel. For example, whilst Visa is accepted at 2 million ATMs in 200 countries, foreign transaction fees vary depending on your bank.
- Try using partner ATMs. Be sure to know the partners before you travel. Your bank not only typically charges a nominal fee for withdrawals overseas, you may also be charged a levy by the bank that owns the ATM. You’ll be notified on the ATM screen if that’s the case. Use partner banks to avoid this charge. Most banks have an online ATM locator so you can easily find a partner bank ATM and save on this charge.
- When purchasing an item using a credit card you will likely be asked by the vendor which currency you’d like to pay in, your homeland currency or local currency. Choose the currency of the country where the card originated as it will be your bank’s currency conversion rate, not the vendor’s currency conversion which is likely much higher in the vendor’s favour.
- Keep an eye out for which card offers the best conversion rates as some cards charge slightly higher.
Dominique Mearns, Designer for Dominique Mearns Couture (wwww.dominiquemearnscouture.com) spends a lot of time globe-trotting to find the best silks and embellishments offers a cost-cutting tip “If you don’t like the idea of travellers cheques, travel money cards, or a credit card, consider a debit card with low foreign transaction fees. Make sure you look at your options before making a decision”. Here’s why we like them:
- Most debit cards come affiliated with Visa or MasterCard which can be used globally
- If you get the right card you can save money on international transaction fees
- ATMs globally available in 200 countries and you can also use them online.
- No overspending, therefore no interest accruing
- You don’t have to keep loading foreign currency or exchange cheques for cash or worry about conversion rates.
Here are the pros and cons of the other two most popular card options, credit cards and travel money cards.
Attract international transaction fees but allow you to access funds over your debit balance which is reassuring in case of an emergency. Over spending can be a problem, attracting high amounts of interest if not paid in full.
Travel Money Cards
Enable you to access only the cash amount you need which is helpful to avoid theft. You can load many currencies on one card and you can lock in exchange rates before you travel. However, some cards charge ATM fees.
Questions to ask when choosing the right card for you:
- Is there a global ATM alliance which allows you fee free withdrawals overseas?
- Does the card charge international transaction fees?
- Does the card have linked travel insurance?
- Does the card offer you linked promotions that are attractive to you?
- If choosing a credit card, is it linked to a points program where you can convert money spent towards your preferred airline or loyalty program?
Whichever bank or card you choose to travel with, do your homework and you may just find there are plenty of ways to cut down on unwanted bank fees and inconvenience.
** The writer Dominique Mearns -Director and Designer at Dominique Mearns Couture can be reached at [email protected]