The Best Bank Account for Travelers: Charles Schwab

There are a ton of banks to choose from, but one that stands out from the rest is the Charles Schwab — no account maintenance requirements, no monthly fees, and no international ATM fees. They’ll even reimburse you for ATM fees.

Charles Schwab Checking Account at a glance

  • Monthly service fees: $0
  • Account minimum: $0
  • ATM fee rebates: unlimited
  • Availability: Nationwide
  • Hard/soft pull: Hard, Equifax
  • Minimum deposit: $1,000 opening deposit
  • Fine print: Must open a Schwab One brokerage account as well
  • Bonus amount: $100

The bonus offer

Get $100 when you become a Schwab client. It’s an unconventional referral system in the sense that you can’t refer anyone except for yourself. We consider it more of a bonus vs. referral.

Direct link to the offer: http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/refer-prospect.html

What you need to know (the fine print)

From Schwab.com:

"- A minimum deposit of $1000 is required to open most Schwab brokerage accounts. Waivers may apply. See the Charles Schwab Pricing Guide for details.
- New clients who do not have a Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”) account (other than a Stock Plan Services account), open an eligible retail brokerage account, and enroll in the offer can earn a $100 Bonus Award.
- The Bonus Award will be credited to the enrolled account within approximately one month of account open.
- For taxable accounts, the account must be maintained at Schwab for at least one year or Schwab may charge back the Bonus Award.
- Schwab reserves the right to change the offer terms or terminate the offer at any time without notice.
- The offer is limited to one per account, with no more than one account enrolled per client.
- The offer does not apply to accounts managed by independent investment advisors, the Schwab Global Account™, ERISA-covered retirement plans, certain tax-qualified retirement plans and accounts, or education savings accounts.

- You have to pay tax on the bonus."

 

Why it’s our go-to travel card

If you travel internationally once or more a year, you’re going to save a ton on ATM fees. It’s convenient because you don’t have to locate a specific bank or pay ATM fees — these all add up in the long run. The alternative to withdrawing cash from an ATM is typically getting cash at a foreign exchange booth that has poor exchange rates.

The $100 sign up bonus (when you refer yourself) isn’t as high as other banking institutions, but no monthly fees and no maintenance or balance requirements make up for it.

You’ll also receive a free checkbook when upon opening the account. Most banks charge ~$50 for checks.

For other banks that have a monthly direct deposit requirement, transfers from Schwab and Discover codes as direct deposits.

If you have the American Express Platinum card and you want to redeem MR points for cash, you can transfer points to Schwab at 1.25 cents per point. Redeeming MR points for statement credits isn’t optimal because the redemption rate is .6 cents per point.