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Debit Card Foreign Transaction and International ATM Fees

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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common involves a combined flat fee for using an ATM network in another country, plus a percentage of the value of any withdrawn cash.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+360
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Capital One 360:

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.

Schwab+Bank
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Charles Schwab Bank:

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.

Discover
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Discover Bank:

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%
TD Bank $3 None
Union Bank $5 2%
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.

Methodology

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.

Spencer Tierney is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: spencer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SpencerNerd. John Gower of NerdWallet contributed to this report.

Updated Aug. 11, 2015.


Image via iStock.

  • Sean

    I have a Capitol One 360 debit card with the MasterCard logo and when I called Capitol One to inquire if there was a foreign transaction charge, they referred me to MasterCard who said that 1% is always currently charged, which can change. So there is a 1% foreign transaction charge if you use your Capitol One 360 debit card.
    Also Capitol One 360 told me that they do not put a separate line item on your statement to show the 1% fee, it’s included in total amount.

    • Miguel

      I’m planning a trip abroad and I spent an entire day researching all of this. I was told that MasterCard does not charge a foreign transaction fee. I was directed by a message from MasterCard that the only foreign currency fees charged would be by the foreign ATM surcharge by the ATM operator. This stuff is so confusing I spent an entire day getting mixed messages from everyone.

      • Gary Lin

        I called Capitalone 360 a few days again, regarding ATM withdrawals internationally. They said there’s a 3% transaction fee, unless you have a high yield checking account, where they will reimburse back up to $15. CapitalOne has a travel credit card that has no transaction fee when making a purchase but for cash advance, will have a $10 fee for that.

  • SilverMom

    My neighbor who travels internationally more often than I do warned me that Capital One may not charge a fee for international transactions, BUT they don’t use the standard exchange rate! So they are charging you, but just not being truthful about it. When I talked to CitiBank today, she claimed that every MasterCard or Visa card is charged a certain percentage by those institutions. If we can’t trust companies to tell the truth and the whole truth, then it’s going to take a lot of sleuthing and research to get the answers we all want. Maybe the only way is to compare statements for purchases made internationally on the same day using several different cards?

  • jerrymandel

    You wrote, “Ask your bank if they have any partnerships with other banks in your
    destination country. This way, you can use those ATMs to avoid costly
    fees.” Any other banks besides Bank Of America having foreign “partner” banks to avoid or minimize ATM fees?

  • LisaS

    I don’t know if I’m overlooking something VERY obvious….but I’m trying to use a Wells Fargo debit/Visa card to pay for a race entry fee to the Paris Marathon next spring. They accept Visa/MasterCard. Transaction is for 99 euros. However, when I input my card info.- it rejected my payment. This is the first international transaction I’ve attempted to do.

    • Erin

      Make sure you call and advise the bank that you’re doing a foreign fee so it isn’t rejected. A lot of the time you have to tell them.

  • JOHN JOHNSON

    I live in the Philippines and its really expensive to use my Direct Express ATM debit card, my card is touted by SSA Social Security Administration USA. I am charged 3% international they call it a purchase fee then 3.00 USD atm fee. On top of these charges the local Banks such as BPI, BDO,PNB most all charge 200 pesos as a international ATM card fee. I asked BPI who charges the ATM FEE, they sent me an email saying that ” MASTERCARD” SETS THE FEES AND THE ATM WITHDRAW EXCHANGE RATE. When I called MasterCard and also emailed them they replied, “NO” they do not set the exchange rate or the ATM withdraw fee.MasterCard says they do charged all banks and other a 1% fee and its up to the bank if they will charge you or not.The 200 pesos is hidden in the total amount you withdraw so you have no idea the exchange rate your being charged.If you ask any bank to do a over the counter atm withdraw they tell you no they don’t do that. The bottom line is does anyone know how I can open a debit atm card that does not charge so much for fees.To be honest the Direct Express Card that is charging me 3% international fees plus 3.00 USD atm fee is out right expensive.expensive. Mastercard charges them 1% and they charge us on SSA 3% I can see 2% but wow and SSA lets them get by with it.

  • Morgan

    The captial one 360 checking DOES include foreign transaction fees according to their frequently asked questions page under “fees”. I would update this post. My husband and I almost opened up an account!!

  • Vladimir K.

    Last week (June 2015) we cashed out from ATM using Capital One regular debit card. Capital One charged us for transaction fee 3% plus atm fee plus foreign bank atm fee. Capital One debit card is not friendly and sucking overseas.

  • Vladimir K.

    I just called TD bank and found that there are charges for overseas transaction using ATM debit card of the TD bank. They charge you $3 and 3% international transaction fee using your TD regular standard debit card if you have TD regular or simple checking account. The nerdwallet provided incorrect information about the TD bank charges.

    • PRR

      If you have the right type of account (you have to maintain a $2500 balance) TD bank has no FTF (they may still pass on the FTF from their clearing house, I’m not sure) and they will reimburse foreign ATM fees. HOWEVER and it’s a biggie, they do NOT offer chip technology in their ATM cards, only in their credit cards. So not so very useful

      • Vladimir K.

        Thank you for updates. I am not going to open TD account anyway because TD accounts are not suitable to my needs. U.S. debit cards are outdated and old fashioned in security system without a security chip. All U.S. banks are looking ways to charge us and make a profit after our foreign transactions. I realized that the debit card is worthless during travel because of expensive banking charges and outfit in other countries. Europe will not recognize the U.S. old fashioned outdated debit card anyway. Better to use a credit card that offers no foreign transaction fees.

  • Francis Mitchell

    I don’t know about the foreign transaction fee with TD, I don’t think there are any, however, no chip system, and I was stranded in Europe without my Debit card working (yeah, I called ahead and told them I was traveling). There was nothing they said they could do about it…so, in Europe and can’t access cash…TD did nothing to help me, left me stranded over there… I travel all the time…if you travel, I suggest not using TD

    • friedribs

      I just used my Capital One debit card without a chip at numerous ATMs in Germany and Austria, without a problem — so chipless cards aren’t necessarily a problem at least. (and no fees: no flat ATM fee, and no extra percentage — got the same rate as a Google lookup for that day)

      BTW, this was not a Capital One 360 card, just the original Capital One, with no Visa or MasterCard logo, just a Cirrus network logo on the back.

  • PRR

    I just had a long talk with Capitol One. They assured me they don’t charge a foreign transaction fee…however…MasterCard tacks one on that they don’t mention. I believe many of the cards that claim to have no FTF make that claim because they don’t ADD an FTF to the amount that comes through, but they pass the 1% or so clearing house fee (e.g. MasterCard, Visa etc.) on to you. My understanding is that Schwab Bank does not do this, and they reimburse ALL atm fees.

    • jellie1

      I don’t think that’s correct. The MasterCard/Visa clearinghouses charge a 1% fee for all transactions. The banks or card issuers usually pass on the fee to the customer, but most of them will mark it up to 3% or so. Any cards that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee, including Capital One and Schwab, pay for the 1% fee themselves. At least that’s my understanding. When Schwab says it reimburses all ATM fees, that includes the fee the ATM owner charges.