Updated from 2015 with love 🙂
Trying something new — feel free to tell me what you think. Going to be adding a podcast portion to each post, so for those that aren’t into reading, they can listen
No matter what type of traveller you are (resort lover, backpacker, voluntourist, adventurist, beaches only) you need enough money. Let’s just face it. I’m not writing this post in vain with the thought that I’m some sort of expert; I hope to portray the importance of researching the accounts you may already have and reestablish how much you know about them in general as well as shop around for better deals. You may have had a checking account for so long that you don’t even remember some of the basics, such as if you’re charged at ATMs that are not affiliated with your bank or if you can obtain a chip&pin card or if you incur transfer fees every time you pay a bill. I’m less than two weeks away from one of the longest trips of my life and NOW I’ve decided to research. The pressure of time is #real.
Why I have what I have now:
I’d opened an account with TD Bank because it’s local and I was able to get a great deal due to being a student. I opened a Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card in order to have a second line of credit, obtain the initial 500 points as well as all the other reward deals that come with it as a frequent traveler. I also had a Federal Credit Union credit card through the National Education Association, which is no longer in use. Lastly, I reopened my old account with Charles Schwab in order to reap their exorbitant benefits to travelers.
Why I’m switching things up last-minute:
A little late in the game I decided to do a general search on best checking accounts after I closed a second checking account at TD. The woman who assisted me was shocked and appalled that I should have a credit card that wasn’t TD and tried too hard to get me to switch. She also told me that I wouldn’t be able to make a travel note on my account since my dates weren’t specific enough. What the actual hell?
I later called customer service and was told that, in fact, I can make a note without specific dates… their inconsistency was the catalyst I needed to begin searching their benefits to me |again|. Then, I started to get a foggy memory of when I was backpacking in OZ and my account was frozen as I was trying to purchase a pretty expensive trip to the Great Barrier Reef during their Summer. I had to employ my parents to make treks back and forth and all over town to unfreeze my account in time, while I was sitting in a stuffy Sydney tourist office, an entire hemisphere away, using spotty wi-fi to get my messages across. I was beyond frustrated with “America’s Most Convenient Bank.”
So, when I obtained the Student Checking account, I was under twenty-four and a student. I was provided with:
- No monthly fee or minimum balance
- Waived transfer fees for overdraft protection
- No earned interest
Unbeknownst to me, once I hit twenty-four (and was still briggity broke), my account swerved to Convenience Checking, which included these changes:
- $100 minimum balance to waive the normal $15 monthly fee
- Pay for checks
- Limited nationwide atms
- $3 fee to transfer money to external accounts, IE credit card bill
- No chip
- No international bank partners
- ATM & Foreign Transaction fees
Aside from the flat $2.50-$3 atm charge at any atm anywhere, I hadn’t found any aspect of this bank that was so compelling that I couldn’t give it up. BYE TD.
Charles Schwab Debit:
The absolute best checking account with debit card to have as a traveler. I’ll just dive right into material:
- Monthly ATM rebate
- No currency conversion fees
- No minimum balance or maintenance fees
- No foreign transaction fees
- Free money transfer to external bank accounts
- Free checks
Capital One Venture One:
*You must have excellent credit to apply for this card.
- 1.25 miles/every dollar spent (100 mi. = $1)
- 20K bonus miles upon opening card (not substantial really, but it did pay for a flight I needed asap)
- NO annual fee (Venture card is $59 annually)
- No foreign transaction fees
- Extended warranty, price protection, travel protection
- Just extended the warranty of a newly purchased, refurbished Macbook Air becuase Apple doesn’t offer AppleCare for refurbished products …. -___-
- Aesthetically pleasing … honestly, this matters to me, what can I say?!
Chase Sapphire Reserve:
The age of the annual fee has arrived (oh, the horror). After hearing at least four people recently give me a list of accolades for this Chase credit card, I did some digging. Then, attended the NYT Travel Show (not recommending) and listened to a seminar or two that plugged this card and its copious benefits for the traveller. It’s lit and here’s why.
- 50K points upon opening & spending $4K in first 3 months
- 3x the points on each dollar spent
- $300 annual travel credit — IE. when you reup your metrocard, it counts as a travel purchase and it is paid for via this specific travel credit
- PRIORITY PASS — access to 900+ international airport lounges
- Global Entry and/or TSA Precheck reimbursement (once every four years)
- No transaction fees of course
- Mad trip & health protections
- Annual fee: $450 (remember the annual $300 credit)
- $75/ authorized user