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All Contents © 2020The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Miriam Cross, Associate Editor
| From Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2017
Travelers can save a bundle with free checking accounts that don't charge ATM or foreign-transaction fees.
Here's a look at our top banking picks for frequent travelers.
If you open Charles Schwab's High Yield Investor Checking account, which is part of Schwab's online banking arm, you'll get refunds of all ATM fees worldwide, including fees levied by the ATM owner, and you won't pay foreign-transaction fees when you use the debit card. You'll need to open a Schwab One brokerage account along with the checking account, but both accounts are free to open and maintain, even if they sit empty. The checking account pays a smidgen of interest (recently 0.13%), and Schwab's no-fee savings account yields 0.3%.
The mobile app helps you stay on top of your accounts while you travel, with bill pay, mobile check deposit and monitoring of your transactions. If you lose track and overdraw your account, the overdraft or insufficient funds fee is $25, but Schwab will also transfer funds free from a linked account to cover overdrafts. If you run into problems while you're traveling, you can get live help by phone or online chat around the clock, or you can use Schwab's two Twitter feeds (@SchwabService and @CharlesSchwab) and Facebook page.
The online-only subset of Capital One offers several appealing features for travelers. Withdrawals from Allpoint and Capital One ATMs are free, and 360 waives the fee at ATMs worldwide (but you may still be charged a fee by the ATM owner). You won't pay transaction fees when you make purchases with your debit card in the U.S. or abroad. The free checking and savings accounts both pay interest: 0.2% or more for checking, depending on the balance, and 0.75% on all savings balances. You'll have to enroll in overdraft coverage if you don't want your card declined; fees for insufficient funds are a low $9. You can also link a line of credit or secondary account free to cover overdrafts automatically.
With its strong fraud-alert systems, you no longer have to inform Capital One of your travel plans to use your debit card away from home. You can also temporarily lock your debit cards online, and use the Wallet app to receive real-time notifications of purchases. In case of trouble, you can speak directly with Capital One reps by phone or online chat seven days a week. The social media teams are also active seven days a week.
These stellar banks and credit unions are making all the right moves to win satisfied customers: