The best international debit card doesn’t charge you extra fees for using your card abroad and is paired with a checking account you’d actually want to use. That’s why we researched over 170 checking accounts to find those with debit cards that are accepted worldwide and have no foreign transaction fees. We also considered factors like currency conversion, monthly fees, minimum balance requirements, customer service and interest rates when choosing our best list.
What’s changed in 2021?
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. We added Varo Bank and Capital One to our list because they offer debit cards with no foreign transaction fees and checking accounts with no monthly fees.
We also added Betterment because it reimburses all ATM and foreign transaction fees.
6 best international debit cards
This table gives a quick overview of the checking accounts offering the best debit cards for international travel:
Foreign ATM fee
Foreign transaction fee
Currency conversion fee
Capital One 360 Checking
Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking
NBKC Everything Account
$0 + Up to $12 in fee refunds each month
$0 + fee refunds charged at ATMs with Visa, Plus or NYCE logo
Unlimited ATM reimbursements
A closer look at the best international debit cards
Take a closer look at the pros and cons of each checking account that offers an international debit card:
SoFi Money is best for getting cash at foreign ATMs. It packs a punch with zero fees, a competitive interest rate and unlimited worldwide ATM reimbursements. But it doesn't reimburse the 0.20% exchange fee charged by Mastercard.
No fees. SoFi takes the phrase no fees seriously. You won't pay anything for monthly maintenance, overdrafts, card replacements, stop payments, wire transfers, foreign transactions and more.
Competitive APY. Watch your money grow with a 0.25% rate that's higher than most traditional savings accounts.
Worldwide ATM reimbursements. SoFi reimburses all worldwide ATM fees within one business day.
ATM withdrawal limit. SoFi limits ATM withdrawals to $610 a day. But you can request an increase by emailing customer support.
No in-person support. SoFi Money is digital, which means it has no local branches or in-person support.
No cash deposits. Similar to most online banks, SoFi doesn't support cash deposits of any kind.
Intro or bonus offer
Get $100 when you switch your direct deposit to SoFi Money. In order to qualify, you must have $1,000+ in qualifying direct deposits within a month. Offer available until December 31, 2021.
For making purchases abroad, you may want to look into an NBKC Everything 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.
0.15% APY. This interest-bearing checking account offers 0.15% APY on any balance over $0.01
No foreign transaction fees. If you plan to make purchases abroad, NBKC's 0% foreign transaction fee policy will come in handy.
ATM fee refunds. Receive up to $12 monthly in third-party ATM fee reimbursements.
$45 international transfers. While domestic transfers only cost $5, an international transfer will cost you a whopping $45.
Limited support. If you need help with your account, in-person customer support is limited to residents of Kansas and Missouri and phone support is only available during business hours on weekdays.
Use your Schwab Bank Contactless Visa Platinum Debit Card to make purchases abroad and withdrawals from overseas ATMs without worrying about foreign transaction fees. You can use it to swipe or tap your card at any contactless ATM and reader. 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.
No foreign transaction fee. If you plan to withdraw cash overseas, your account is only charged the US dollar equivalent.
ATM fee reimbursements. Charles Schwab Bank automatically reimburses any ATM fee you incur within the US and internationally.
Minimal fees. This account has no monthly account, stop payment or EFT fees.
Hard credit pull. When you apply for this account, Charles Schwab performs a hard credit check which could potentially hurt your score.
No in-person support. Charles Schwab handles all of its account support by phone, email and live chat.
No international transfers. Wire transfers are limited to financial institutions within the US.
Varo is a digital bank that's rich on features. As an account holder, you'll enjoy early paydays, free overdraft protection, access to a high-yield savings account that earns up to 2.8% and a debit card with no foreign transaction fees.
No fees. With Varo Bank, you won't pay any monthly, ATM, transfer or card replacement fees. There are also no foreign transaction fees on ATM withdrawals or debit card purchases.
Early payday. Enroll in direct deposit and receive your paycheck and government benefits up to two days early.
Optional savings account. Every Varo checking account holder is eligible for a Varo Savings account, which earns up to 2.8% APY.
No checks or wire transfers. You can't write checks or do wire transfers with this account.
Complicated cash deposits. Varo doesn't have physical branch locations, so the only way to deposit cash is through a third-party money transfer service, which may cost fees.
Intro or bonus offer
Earn $75 bonuses every time a friend signs up for an account and deposits at least $200 in one transaction
Capital One 360 Checking comes with a Mastercard debit card that features no foreign transaction fees and free access to more than 39,000 ATMs. Plus, direct deposits could arrive in your account up to two days early. But if you use an out-of-network ATM, the owner of the ATM may charge you a fee. Also, you'll want to be wary of Dynamic Currency Conversions (DCC) while traveling. Capital One won't charge you for it, but a merchant might if they charge you in US dollars instead of their local currency. To avoid this, ask the merchant to charge you in their local currency instead.
Early paydays. If your employer pays you via direct deposit, paychecks could arrive in your account up to two days early.
Earns interest. You'll earn 0.1% APY on your total account balance.
Lenient overdraft policy. There are four different ways to avoid overdrafts with Capital One, so you can choose the method that works for you.
Wire transfers. Although Capital One has no hidden fees, you'll pay $40 to send domestic wires. You also can't send international wires.
Credit check. If you choose the Overdraft Line of Credit as your overdraft option, Capital One may perform a hard pull on your credit.
How to choose the best international debit card for you
Before you open a new travel-friendly checking account with a debit card, consider the following factors to find the best option for you:
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 is a foreign transaction fee?
Your bank applies a foreign transaction fee whenever a currency conversion is required. For example, if you make a payment online using your US debit card on an Australian site, your bank needs to exchange USD to AUD to process the payment, so it will charge you a fee to do this. This fee is usually around 3% of the transaction value, but it varies from bank to bank.
Your bank can also charge you even more fees when you use a foreign ATM or send an overseas transfer — plus it can mark up the cost of a foreign currency and pocket the difference. Because these fees are often charged on top of one another, they can start to add up if you make regular foreign transactions. Our guide to foreign transaction fees
What are debit cards with no foreign transaction fees?
Debit cards with no foreign transaction fees don’t charge you to spend in a foreign currency. Some accounts will also let you use foreign ATMs without paying a fee and/or transfer money internationally fee-free.
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.
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.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of using an international debit card?
Access your funds anytime, anywhere. If you have a Mastercard or Visa debit card you can look forward to using your card in over 200 countries and territories across the world. You can also use your card for online transactions on international websites.
Avoid fees. Depending on your card, you may be able to save on currency conversion fees, foreign ATM fees or both.
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.
Save money on international purchases made online. If you often buy things from overseas online, a debit card that charges no foreign transaction fees could lead to significant savings.
Won’t rack up interest. Unlike a credit card, a debit card only allows you to access the cash in your checking account. This can help keep your spending in check, as you’re only spending what you actually have available in your account.
Eliminates extra steps. With the right debit card, you don’t have to worry about loading foreign currency onto a travel money card, you don’t have to exchange traveler’s checks for cash and there’s no need to apply for a special travel credit card.
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 a debit card overseas costs a fortune, especially for frequent ATM withdrawals. If your bank offers a debit card with no foreign transaction fees, there may be account conditions you’re required to meet in order to enjoy this perk.
Limited choice of providers. Many banks still charge hefty foreign transaction fees, so you’ll have fewer debit card choices.
Can’t lock in exchange rates. Other travel money options allow you to lock in exchange rates, which can help you save if you plan ahead.
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.
What are some popular debit card issuers overseas?
Visa and Mastercard are two popular debit card issuers overseas. Discover is starting to gain traction in countries like Ireland and Canada, but it’s still not widely accepted.
International debit card alternatives
If you’re not keen on using a debit card while traveling overseas, here are some good alternatives you could use:
Credit cards. Using a credit card overseas makes sense if you need to access extra funds outside of your available debit balance, which can come in handy during emergencies. They can also let you earn rewards points, cash back or frequent flyer miles. Look for a card with little to no foreign transaction fees, 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 transaction 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.
To apply for a debit card, click the Go to site button in the comparison table, which will take you through to the card provider’s online application form. The application process differs between providers, but you’ll generally need to provide the following:
Personal details such as your name and address
Forms of identification, such as a driver’s license and proof of address
Social Security number
Debit cards are linked to checking accounts and don’t involve a line of credit, which generally means that they’re much easier to qualify for than credit cards. But you’ll generally need to be 18 and a US resident, and some banks may set additional criteria.
Compare debit cards with no foreign transaction fees
Use the table below to compare debit cards with no foreign transaction fee. Sort the list by monthly fee, ATMs and more. Or, click the “Compare” box next to your top picks for a side-by-side view.
No matter what takes you overseas, you shouldn’t be penalized for using your debit card. Use a globally accepted debit card that’s designed to help you keep more money in your pocket as you withdraw cash and make purchases overseas. As always, compare your debit card options to ensure the cost doesn’t outweigh the benefits.
Cassidy Horton is a writer for Finder, specializing in banking and kids’ debit cards. She’s been featured on Legal Zoom, MSN, and Consolidated Credit and has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University. When not writing, you can find her exploring the Pacific Northwest and watching endless reruns of The Office.
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