Debit Card Foreign Transaction and International ATM Fees
Using your checking account’s debit card outside the U.S. can come at a cost, sometimes in a couple of different ways. Check out this overview of what some bigger banks and credit unions can charge when you make transactions abroad.
Types of foreign transaction fees
There are two types of debit card fees you may face overseas:
- International ATM fee: Typically this is a flat $2 to $5 applied every time you withdraw money in a foreign currency at an ATM abroad. Some financial institutions treat such uses like transactions through out-of-network ATMs within the U.S.
- Foreign transaction fee: This conversion charge often ranges from 1% to 3% of the amount involved in a debit card transaction conducted in a foreign currency.
Common fee structures
While costs vary by financial institution, there are two common methods of applying these charges:
- The most common involves a combined flat fee for using an ATM network in another country, plus a percentage of the value of any withdrawn cash. When using a checking account debit-card for purchases in a foreign currency, you pay a conversion charge but no network access fee.
- A less common method used by some banks and credit unions involves just a flat fee for overseas ATM withdrawals, with no conversion charge, and for debit-card purchases, only the conversion percentage and no network fee.
Institutions with no foreign transaction fee for debit card use
Capital One Bank’s online unit doesn’t charge a conversion fee or for using a foreign ATM network, though it says MasterCard may add an “adjustment factor” based on the value of a foreign-currency transaction.
The banking unit of this securities broker reimburses any ATM fees from cash withdrawals worldwide, regardless of the network used. There are also no currency conversion fees for debit card transactions in a foreign currency.
The bank doesn’t charge foreign ATM network or currency conversion fees, but a Discover card only works in a few countries outside the U.S., including Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean nations.
Foreign transaction fees by financial institution
Here’s a list of what some banks and credit unions charge when you use a debit card abroad:
|Institution||ATM Withdrawal Fee||Purchase Fee|
|Alliant Credit Union||1% of withdrawal amount||1% of purchase value|
|Note: Alliant debit card holders can be reimbursed up to $20 per month for out-of-network ATM fees, including abroad.|
|Ally Bank||1% of amount||1%|
|Bank of America||$5 + 3% of amount||3%|
|Bank5 Connect||1% of amount||1%|
|Branch Banking & Trust Company (BB&T)||$5 + 3% of amount||3%|
|Note: No flat fee for account holders in Texas|
|BMO Harris Bank||$2.50 + 3% of amount||3%|
|Note: No flat fee for those with Portfolio Checking after the fifth relevant transaction|
|Chase Bank||$5 + 3% of amount||3%|
|Note: No flat fee for those with Premier Platinum Checking|
|Citibank||$2.50 + 3% of amount||3%|
|Note: No fees for those using a Citigold debit card in participating countries|
|Citizens Bank||$3 + up to 1.8% of amount||Up to 1.8%|
|Note: No ATM fee for the first relevant transaction for those with Value Checking
No ATM fee for the first four relevant transactions on a Circle Gold Checking with Interest account
|BBVA Compass Bank||$3 + 1% of amount||3%|
|Connexus Credit Union||$2 (some withdrawals may be free) + 1% of amount||1%|
|Consumers Credit Union||$1.50 + 2% of amount||2%|
|Fifth Third Bank||$5 + 3% of amount||3%|
|HSBC Bank||3% of amount||3%|
|Note: No ATM fee with Premier Checking in most countries|
|M&T Bank||Greater of 50 cents or 3% of amount||Higher value: $5 or 3%|
|Nationwide Bank||$1.50 + 1% of amount||1%|
|Navy Federal Credit Union||$1 + 0.8% of amount||0.80%|
|Pentagon Federal Credit Union||$3 + up to 2% of amount||Up to 2%|
|PNC Bank||$3 or $5 + 3% of amount||3%|
|Note: $3 for non-PNC ATM use in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada; $5 for ATMs in any other country
No flat fee with Performance Checking
|Regions Bank||$5 + 3% of amount||3%|
|SunTrust Bank||$5 + 3% of amount||3%|
|Note: No ATM fee with Priority Banking or Private Advantage checking||Note: No fee with Private Advantage|
|U.S. Bank||$2.50 + 3% of amount||3%|
|Note: No ATM fee for Premium and Platinum checking
First four non-U.S. Bank ATM uses free with Student Checking.
|Note: If processing foreign currency to U.S. dollars instead, then the fee is 2%.|
|Wells Fargo Bank||$5||3% of value|
|Note: Additional 3% of cash withdrawals made through a teller|
Keep in mind …
- Credit unions tend to have lower international transaction fees than banks. This is usually because only the currency conversion charge from Visa and MasterCard, around 1% of the value, is passed on to members with no additional fee added. Banks, in contrast, may tack on an extra 1% to 2% to the card company cost.
- Charges typically apply to debit and credit card transactions. However, you can find both types of cards without these fees.
- Operators of ATMs may charge you. This is in addition to your bank’s foreign network access fee. Usually there’ll be a notice of some sort to alert you to the charge.
Before you leave …
Reduce your chance of piling up fees or worse by doing the following:
- Notify your card providers before you leave and let them know where you’re headed and for how long. If you don’t, your accounts may be accidentally flagged for fraud and frozen, leaving you potentially stranded without cash or credit.
- See whether your bank has any international branches or partner banks in the places you plan to visit. If so, this can be a way to avoid some fees. For example, Citibank has a big international presence with over 280 foreign offices, and Bank of America has partner banks in several countries, including Barclays in the U.K. and Santander in Mexico.
- Determine the daily ATM withdrawal limit for your checking account. If you anticipate needing more at some point during your trip, ask your bank to raise the limit. If it won’t, you may be able to withdraw cash from your account through a teller at a foreign bank without paying a network fee, although you may be charged the same conversion percentage as you would on a debit card purchase.
Knowing your institution’s foreign transaction and ATM fees can help you prepare accordingly and minimize these costs.
The 15 largest banks by assets minus those without a significant retail banking presence were surveyed, along with major financial institutions in the five biggest U.S. metro areas and several online-only banks that offer a full range of checking and savings accounts. Added to that list were some of the biggest U.S. credit unions that have broad-based qualifications for membership.
Updated Aug. 11, 2015.
Image via iStock.