How to Choose a Bank Before Going Overseas

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Make your money work for you as you travel abroad by picking the right banks and accounts that will help you avoid fees and fines. You’ll likely need to use a patchwork of accounts to make things work across ATM fees, foreign transaction charges, and sneaky little fees that can pop up when it’s most difficult to access your accounts. Aside from the fact that you don’t want to worry about your money when you’re traveling, it can be difficult to find Internet access or get a hold of a phone to dispute charges as well. Even if you can ignore them for a few days you probably don’t want to come home to extra charges.

Research Your Options

You’ll first want to call you bank to find out what kinds of services they offer you – hopefully the more the better and the less you’ll ultimately have to look around. The best way to get the information you want is to call the bank or stop by their offices about a month or so before you go on vacation or travel. It’s faster and also a good opportunity to let the bank know that you are looking around at your options. They’ll often accommodate you by easier restrictions, lifting fees, or giving you other incentives to stay with them.

ATM Fees – Most banks will charge you ATM fees which tend to be higher when you’re outside your home country. Check with your bank to see if they’ll reimburse some of the fees you incur and avoid them by withdrawing larger amounts of cash less frequently.

Foreign Transaction Charges – These are probably the small fees most people don’t know about or calculate when creating their travel budgets. These are added on by your bank, typically a small percentage of your total transaction. Some credit cards don’t add these fees on and are best to use if you like to charge more often than not when traveling.

You should also never pay transfer fees if you can help it. Many online banks don’t charge you anything extra to move money in between your various accounts using a wire transfer. There are so many options that it’s not worth using a bank that makes it tough to transfer money. When you’re on the road it’s one of the best ways to get your money to and from accounts for various reasons so don’t pay extra for it.

Where To Look For A Good Bank

Generally speaking, when choosing a bank before going overseas you want to look at the larger firms and banks first. That’s probably where you’ll stay anyway but it’s an advantage since large companies usually have branches all over the world. More reach can mean fewer fees, especially if the branches work together across borders. Online banks are also good places to look at because they’re designed for use online. When traveling, the Internet is the primary way you’ll be interacting with your bank so online banks like ING Direct or HSBC (which has a strong online presence) are good places to start.

Once You Find A Good Bank For Traveling

After all of your research and settle on a good primary bank for traveling, be sure to set up two accounts. That will provide you with some protection in case one account is compromised or blocked by your bank. Accounts can be blocked as a security measure automatically by your bank when suspicious charges show up and using your card in a foreign country can easily trigger this precaution. You can help ensure your accounts are accessible by you and don’t get blocked by calling the bank prior to your trip to let them know you’ll be traveling. It’s a good idea to mention to them which countries you’ll be in as well so they can better assess any suspicious charges that could occur coincidentally.

Have your money work for you even more by signing up to credit cards and programs that offer you a large number of bonus miles just for signing up or that have cash-back rewards.

The toughest part about finding a good bank to avoid fees when traveling is going through all of the various options, accounts, and programs out there. The good news is just the same – there are plenty of options and you can find a good patchwork of accounts to use and avoid fees no matter where in the world you are.

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