The best debit card for traveling overseas

Save money on international transactions and foreign ATM fees.

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When comparing the best debit cards, you’ll also want to look at the checking account attached to the card. Look for an account that offers a Mastercard or Visa debit card, which are accepted worldwide. Choose a bank that belongs to a strong ATM partner network and has reasonable foreign ATM fees.

The best checking accounts for international travel offer fee-free foreign transactions, so look for an account that offers low or no foreign transaction fees.

Best debit cards for overseas travel

SoFi Logo

SoFi Money

Best for getting cash at foreign ATMs

SoFi Money packs a punch with zero fees, a high interest rate and unlimited worldwide ATM reimbursements. But it doesn’t reimburse the 1% transaction fee charged by Visa.

Foreign transaction fee:1%
Out-of-network ATM fee:$0
Number of ATMs:Free to use anywhere worldwide

NBKC Personal Account

Best for foreign purchase fees

For making purchases abroad, you may want to look into an NBKC Personal Account, which offers a 0% foreign transaction fee. You’ll also benefit from no fees at over 32,000 Moneypass ATMs, and up to $12 refunded per month for fees from any other ATMs.

Foreign transaction fee:0%
Out-of-network ATM fee:$0
Number of ATMs:32,000

Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account

Best for currency conversion fees

Use your Schwab Bank Visa Platinum Debit Card to make purchases abroad and withdrawals from overseas ATMs without worrying about foreign transaction fees. Your account gets charged the US dollar equivalent, typically as calculated by the bank or network the transaction is with. While Charles Schwab doesn’t charge a currency conversion fee, the network or bank might.

Foreign transaction fee:0%
Out-of-network ATM fee:$0
Number of ATMs:Free to use anywhere worldwide

How did we choose the best cards?

No matter what takes you overseas, you shouldn’t be penalized for using your debit card. That’s why we looked at debit card factors like currency conversion, foreign transaction fees and ATM access when researching our best list. To make sure your debit card is backed by a solid checking account, we also considered factors like monthly fees, minimum balance requirements, customer service and interest rates.

What’s changed in 2020?

We replaced the Aspiration Spend and Save account with SoFi Money. While both are solid options for international travel, SoFi Money took the lead with its higher APY, no wire transfer fees and quicker ATM reimbursements.

Compare debit cards with no foreign transaction fees

Name Product Monthly fee ATMs ATM transaction fee Out-of-network ATM fee ATM fee rebates Foreign transaction fee
TransferWise Borderless
$0
Free at any ATM in the world
$0
$0
You can withdraw $250 every 30 days with no fees
0%
Send and receive 40+ currencies right from your phone, but with a better exchange rate and low fees.
North Loop International Student Account
$0
Get free access to 32,000 ATMs across the US
$0
$0
0%
No account fees. No account minimums. No ATM fees. No incoming wire fees
Chime Spending account
$0
38,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide
$0
$2.50
0%
Linked checking and savings accounts from a mobile-first bank that’s light on fees.
Zero Checking
$0
No access to ATMs
$0
$0
At the Carbon level, all ATM fees, including what the ATM owner may charge, are refunded.
0%
A mobile banking experience consisting of an app, a credit card called Zerocard, and a checking account called Zero Checking.
TD Beyond Checking
$25 per month
1,900 ATMs across the country and Canada
$0
$0
Unlimited fee rebates when you maintain a daily balance of at least $2,500
0%
A checking account that offers interest plus three ways to waive the monthly fee, two overdraft paybacks a year and no ATM fees with a $2,500 balance.
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Compare up to 4 providers

What happens when you use your debit card overseas

When you use your debit card overseas, or while shopping at an overseas store, you’ll generally pay for extra fees.

For purchases

Your checking account will usually charge a foreign transaction fee when you purchase something in a foreign currency. You may also have to pay a margin on the exchange rate, which means that your bank sells you foreign currency at a higher price than you’d pay elsewhere.

Debit card readers in stores and hotels can often detect that you’re using a card from another country, and they may ask to debit the purchase in US dollars rather than the local currency. While this can help you save on foreign transactions fees, it often means you’ll pay a significantly worse exchange rate, and it’s generally the more expensive option.

For ATM withdrawals

Avoid making frequent ATM withdrawals while traveling. Even if you have an account that does not charge for you for international ATM withdrawals — local operator fees still apply.

Your normal bank account will usually charge the following fees: Foreign ATM fee, foreign transaction fee, exchange rate markup and, in most cases, the ATM itself will charge a third-party fee. These fees can make withdrawing money at a foreign ATM very expensive.

  • Tip. If your card doesn’t waive ATM fees, save by taking out the maximum amount each time you withdraw.
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What are the benefits and drawbacks of using debit card while traveling?

The benefits

  • Access your funds anytime, anywhere. A debit card with the Visa or Mastercard logo gives you instant access to money in your bank account, no matter where you are.
  • Avoid fees if you use the right ATM. If you use a partner ATM, you don’t have to pay any additional fees.
  • Avoid international transaction fees. Just about every US debit card will require that you pay currency conversion fees every time you use your card overseas. Though, some cards will waive the international fee.
  • Safe way to spend your money with fraud protection. Debit cards give you a safe and secure way to access money when traveling overseas, given the multiple security layers that keep your information secure.

The drawbacks

  • No backup. Replacing a lost or stolen debit card while traveling overseas can take up to 10 business days, and can be costly.
  • No emergency cash. There’s no access to cash through a cash advance facility if you find yourself in trouble and in need of funds. We recommend having a credit card on hand for emergencies.
  • Fees and charges. Unless you have an account that waives the foreign transaction and international ATM fees, using an debit card overseas costs a fortune, especially for frequent ATM withdrawals.

What should I consider?

Before you open a new travel-friendly checking account with a debit card, consider the following:

  • International ATMs. Check if the bank is part of the Global ATM Alliance, a group that allows account holders to use international ATMs with no added fees.
  • Travel insurance. Some debit cards come with complimentary travel insurance that comes in handy if you lose or misplace luggage or are confronted by a medical emergency or flight cancellation.
  • Travel rewards. Visa and Mastercard debit cards give cardholders access to a range of special global offers and promotions.
  • International money transfers. Check what options the account has for transferring money overseas — and how high the fees are.
  • Zero liability. Some cards — like Visa and Mastercard — have zero liability policies in place, so that you’re not held liable in the case of fraudulent or suspicious transactions. You should always notify your bank when you plan to leave the country. This way they can expect purchases from abroad.

What happens if I think my account has been scammed overseas?

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank or card issuer immediately to cancel the card and begin the process of recouping any lost funds.

How do I send funds to someone overseas?

Check what options the account has for transferring money overseas — and how high the fees are.

How do I link a debit card to a PayPal account?

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Alternative travel money options

Many travelers like to have more than one way to access their money while overseas. Other popular options include:

  • Credit cards. Using a credit card overseas makes sense if you need access to credit, and in such a scenario you should look for a card that charges little to no foreign transaction fees. Plus, a credit card is handy if you need more funds than expected in the case of an emergency. However, avoid overspending and keep in mind that everything you buy will need to be paid back, usually with interest.
  • Prepaid travel cards. A prepaid travel card can be a good way to load multiple currencies on one card. Plus, you can avoid the negative impact of fluctuating exchange rates by locking the rate in at the time of loading. Keep in mind though that loading and reloading your card can incur a fee and it can take up to a few days for the funds to appear on your card.
  • Traveler’s checks. These used to be one of the most popular options, but they’re quickly fading from favor. While each check comes with a unique number and it’s not difficult to replace if lost, the bulkiness of carrying around multiple checks does not work in their favor. In addition, you have to cash these checks before you get access to funds.

Should I use a debit card or a travel card?

Which option is best for you depends on whether you favor affordability or convenience — and whether your checking account and linked debit card are travel-friendly.

You can continue to access your regular account with a debit card without having to pre-plan or convert any cash beforehand. The drawback depends on the account you have, withdrawals, transactions and currency conversion fees which can all add up. If your account has low or no foreign transactions fees, this tends to be the best option.

A travel card is a prepaid card you can load with multiple currencies. This is useful if you’re traveling to multiple places in one trip. You can reload the card, but it can incur a fee. These cards are useful for people who have checking accounts with unreasonably high foreign transaction fees.

Are you searching for travel cards instead?

Bottom line

Use a globally accepted debit card to gain access to your money without the temptation of overspending. The fees and rates that come with using your card will vary, so compare your options to ensure the cost doesn’t outweigh the benefits.

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16 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    JulieJanuary 24, 2019

    I’m about to obtain and load a Debit Card (Master Card Cash Passport) ready to travel from Australia to india. Can I just load it up with AUD or should I be putting in USD.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ValJanuary 28, 2019Staff

      Hi Julie,

      Thank you for leaving a question. For the MasterCard Cash Passport – you may lock in exchange rates each time you load and reload. Load up to 11 different currencies on one card: USD, EUR, GBP, NZD, THB, CAD, HKD, SGD, JPY, AED and AUD.

      For your question, you may either load AUD or USD whichever is more convenient.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Val

  2. Default Gravatar
    RAJANovember 11, 2018

    I a m planing to travell to Singapore. Will I be able to use easyshopPlatinum Debit master card of HDFC Bank for purchases And payment towards food ch and taxi fairs or I need to arrange for forex card only

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoNovember 22, 2018Staff

      Hi Raja,

      Thanks for your inquiry and for visiting our page. You may certainly use the easyshop Platinum Debit Mastercard of HDFC Bank for purchases and payment for food, taxi fairs and etc. when you go to Singapore. Call HDFC that you will be travelling to Singapore and inform them of your travel dates so they can activate your card for international transactions. Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

      Best,
      Nikki

  3. Default Gravatar
    SizweOctober 29, 2018

    Can i withdraw money from any ATM using my South African Standard bank debit card in USA?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezOctober 29, 2018Staff

      Hello Sizwe,

      Thank you for your comment.

      According to Standard Bank (South Africa), your card is accepted at over 30 million merchants worldwide. You may use to withdraw from ATM’s overseas, however, please note that fees may apply. Please note that you need to notify the bank in advance if you’re planning to use your card overseas so they won’t need to disturb your trip with a phone call to authenticate your purchases. You can also activate your card for overseas travel in the mobile banking app by letting the bank know your travel dates before you leave.

      To be sure, best to bring with you back up cards and cash.

      Should you wish to have real-time answers to your questions, try our chat box on the lower right corner of our page.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  4. Default Gravatar
    ninaOctober 2, 2018

    How much will fees cost if I withdraw from my asb debit card in Australia

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesOctober 3, 2018Staff

      Hi Nina,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      The ASB Bank Limited NZ has an overseas ATM withdrawal fee of $7.50. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  5. Default Gravatar
    GeneOctober 2, 2018

    I have a child in the Philippines. I am there for a month every 6 months. WesternUnion fees are reasonable but is there a cash or debit card I can load here in the USA for my baby’s mom to use anywhere in the Philippines without those fees? And can she get cash from an ATM without paying fees? Lastly, are there common banks in both the USA and the Philippines?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezOctober 5, 2018Staff

      Hello Gene,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Since you’re looking for a prepaid cash card or debit card, you may want to take a look at the prepaid travel money cards and debit cards for travel.

      These are the cards that you can load up, designed when travelling, and can be used in different countries. I have not confirmed that this can be used in the Philippines, however, please do note that most Visa, Mastercard, Discover and Amex can be used in the said country. You can also withdraw cash through an ATM. Please do note that fees when withdrawing money will still depend on the card. The local ATM fees may apply.

      Alternatively, you may also want to take a look at the ways to send money to the Philippines here. You can use the page as a guide.

      Should you wish to have real-time answers to your questions, try our chat box on the lower right corner of our page.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  6. Default Gravatar
    rehmanJuly 23, 2018

    i want to know if am going to any country should load the currency of that country in my Visa card or i can use USD or euro to use there?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoJuly 24, 2018Staff

      Hi Rehman!

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      Yes, you should load the currency of the country you’re going to in your Visa Travel Card to save money on foreign exchange fees. Depending on where you’re going, it’s always good to use the local currency if paying in cash.

      Hope this helps!

      Nikki

  7. Default Gravatar
    FrancisApril 25, 2018

    Why can’t shops except my travel card when I have sufficient funds, or is the card only to use in ATM machine.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RichApril 25, 2018Staff

      Hello Francis,

      Thanks for posting your comment here.

      As an added protection for cardholders, transactions from overseas are closely monitored and flagged by the system if it looks suspicious. This is one of the reasons why credit card companies require customers to notify them of their dates of travel. This way, their system can mark the transaction as an authorized one.

      If you have sufficient funds and you are able to withdraw from the ATM but you are unable to make purchases, then it’s best to call to have it checked.

      Check out this article on Finder and look for Zero Liability.

      Cheers!

      Rich

  8. Default Gravatar
    KKNovember 22, 2017

    I wish to have money equivalent to 100 u s dollar during my forthcoming trip to Sri Lanka for a week.I have hdfc bank debit card (Master Card) & pnb Global credit card (VISA) with me with sufficient balance in it.Do I still need to carry the exchange money in cash for Sri Lanka.If yes,then how much,so as not to face any scarcity of funds at any stage during the trip. Thanks.
    K.K.Kaul

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RenchNovember 22, 2017Staff

      Hi KK,

      Thanks for reaching out to us. Please note that we are not affiliated with any company we feature on our site and so we can only offer you general advice.

      The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Rupee (LKR). The Sri Lankan government has tight control over the national currency and there are strict limits on the amount of rupees you can bring in and out of the country (up to 5,000 LKR). Because the Sri Lankan rupee isn’t an international currency, you’ll need to change your US dollars or withdraw rupees from an ATM when you arrive.

      You can get more helpful information on this page and compare your options travel money cards that you can apply for.

      Best regards,
      Rench

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