Perhaps you were lucky this holiday season and got a whole bunch of cash in your stocking. More than likely, you were not. Still, I bet one of your new year’s resolutions will be to start saving more money. Whether you cut back on your bar tabs or not, one brainless way to save money is to stop paying exorbitant ATM fees.

This holds true for travelers especially, who are often hit with dual fees – one from their home bank and one from the bank whose ATM they’re using. That SUCKS. While traveling, I, too, used to withdraw more cash than I should so that I wouldn’t have to go back for a while and thus avoid the $6 in fees. (When traveling in developing countries, that equates to a night at a hostel, or six servings of mango sticky rice!)

Awesome old wooden ATM in Austin, TX Photo courtesy of Feature photo courtesy of
That is, until I discovered the Charles Schwab debit card. Recommended to me by a pilot that was randomly my roommate for a few strange months in Breckenridge (I don’t even recall his name and it is a story not worth telling), it is the best travel debit card out there. I’m sure there are others that are similar, but I feel totes confident in telling you to sign up for a Charles Schwab checking account. 

Why Charles Schwab Checking Accounts Rock

  • They don’t charge any ATM fees whatsoever.
  • They REFUND you for any fees charged by other banks. (Just go ahead and read that again. Uhh, yeah.)
  • Since you don’t have to worry about fees, this also has the added advantage that you can go to the ATM each day while traveling, withdrawing small amounts of money. Take that, pickpockets! 
  • There is no minimum account balance and no monthly service fees. 
  • It is easy to connect to a real person when you call, and their reps are helpful and nice. (There’s no way I’m the only person that just says “agent” over and over again when calling other financial institutions.)
  • It is “high yield.” I thought that term only applied to crops or Duggers, but apparently it applies to checking accounts, as well. If you have a pitifully small amount in there like me, .15% isn’t gonna do much, but it’s better than other checking accounts out there.
That pretty much sums it up. If you ever travel (like, at all), or are from a silly town like mine where the bank has ONE (count em, one) branch, then this is the best debit card to get. If you travel internationally, it’s a no-brainer. The only disadvantage is that the actual card is downright hein in appearance. They need to get a new designer in there, stat. And there aren’t many physical branches, so you have to be comfortable doing all your banking online.
I am not getting paid for this. Don’t get me wrong, if old Chuck is interested in some kind of deal, I would be more than happy to be their newest “Schwab girl” (that’s a thing, I think).
The bottom line: the Charles Schwab debit card (available through their high-yield checking account) is the best travel debit card out there in 2012, for both domestic or international travel.  

Do you agree? Disagree? Please share your favorite travel debit cards in the comments. I’d love to learn about them!