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Debit Card Foreign Transaction and International ATM Fees

If you plan to travel internationally, make sure to verify the fees that your bank might charge to access your checking account. In general, there are two types of extra debit card-related fees you might incur:

  1. Foreign ATM Fee – Typically a flat fee of $2 – $5 charged for each use of your debit/ATM card at an international ATM to withdraw foreign currency.  This dollar fee is similar to how you may incur out-of-network fees for using an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank.  For example, if you withdraw foreign currency worth $200 USD, you will be charged an additional $5 (given your bank charges a flat fee of $5 for such transactions).
  2. Foreign/International Transaction Fee – Typically a 1% – 3% fee for using your debit card in a foreign currency. The fee is calculated as a percentage of the converted transaction amount and is essentially the same as a credit card foreign transaction fee.  For example, if you make a foreign purchase worth $50 USD, and your bank charges you a 3% fee, you will pay an additional $1.50 as a foreign transaction fee.

Banks and financial institutions vary in what fees they charge, depending on whether you’re using your debit card to withdraw cash or if you’re using it to make a purchase, e.g. at the point-of-sale (POS):

  • The most common fee structure we encountered was that where both fees are charged for an ATM withdrawal (e.g. $2 + 3% of the withdrawal amount), and only the percentage of transaction fee is charged for a POS debit card purchase.
  • The other fee structure, adopted by just a few institutions, was a completely separate treatment of ATM withdrawals and POS purchases. In other words, an ATM withdrawal incurs only the flat fee and a POS debit card purchase will trigger the percentage fee, not both.

We’ve analyzed fees at some of the biggest financial institutions in the country, including big banks, credit unions and online banks.

Banks & Credit Unions with No Foreign Transaction Fee

Capital One 360 | 360 Checking
Capital+One+360
  • Access to over 38,000 surcharge-free Allpoint ATMs
  • Use a mobile app or computer to deposit checks from anywhere with CheckMate
  • No foreign transaction fee
Monthly Fee Minimum Balance APY
$0.00 $0.00 0.20%

Foreign Transaction Fees by Institution

Institution Fee Structure
ATM Withdrawal POS Purchase
Banks
Ally Bank 1% of amount 1% of purchase
Bank of America $5 + 3% of amount 3% of purchase
BB&T $5 + 3% of amount 3% of purchase
BBVA Compass $2 + 1% of amount 3% of purchase
BMO Harris Bank $2.50 + 3% of amount 3% of purchase
Charles Schwab Bank N/A N/A
Chase $5 + 3% of amount 3% of purchase
Citibank $2.50 + 3% of amount 3% of purchase
Citizens Bank $3 + 3% of amount 3% of purchase
Comerica $5 + 3% of amount 3% of purchase
EverBank 1% of amount 1% of purchase
Fifth Third $5 + 3% of amount 3% of purchase
HSBC $2.50 + 3% of amount 3% of purchase
Capital One 360 N/A N/A
KeyBank $2.50 + 1% of amount 1% of amount
M&T Bank Greater of $5 or 3% of amount 3% of purchase
PNC $5 3% of purchase
Regions $5 3% of purchase
SunTrust $5 + 3% of amount 3% of purchase
TD Bank $3 N/A
TIAA Direct $2 + 2% of amount 2% of purchase
USAA $0* + 1% of amount
*Up to $15 of other banks’ charges refunded each month. No USAA fee for the first 10 withdrawals each month. $2 USAA fee applies to subsequent withdrawals.
1% of purchase
US Bank $2.50 + 3% of amount 3% of purchase
Wells Fargo $5 3% of purchase
Credit Unions
Affinity Federal Credit Union $1.50 + 1% of amount 1% of purchase
Alliant Credit Union 1% of amount 1% of purchase
BECU $1 + 1% of amount 1% of purchase
Digital Federal Credit Union $1.50 + 2% of amount 2% of purchase
First Tech Federal Credit Union $2 + 1% of amount 1% of purchase
Kinecta Federal Credit Union $1.50 + 1% of amount 1% of purchase
Logix Federal Credit Union $1.95 + 1% of amount 1% of purchase
Navy Federal Credit Union $1 + 1% of amount 1% of purchase
Northwest Federal Credit Union $1 N/A
Patelco Credit Union $1.75 + 2% of amount 2% of purchase
Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union (PSECU) 1% of amount 1% of purchase
Redstone Federal Credit Union $1 + 1% of amount 1% of purchase
State Employees’ Credit Union (NC) $0.75 + 1% of amount 1% of purchase
The Golden 1 Credit Union $2 + 1% of amount 1% of purchase
Vystar Credit Union $2.50 N/A

Highlights:

Fees are generally the lowest for members of a credit union, where the percentage of transaction fee is often small. Visa and Mastercard charge 1% for purchases in a foreign currency, and most credit unions simply pass the fee along to their members with no mark-up. Banks however, usually tack on an extra 2% to that amount.

Travelers should also take note that the ATM you are using may charge an additional fee on top of what your bank will charge. Make sure to verify this fee before completing a transaction (you will likely be provided a warning during the process).

What to do?

With all of this information, the best things to do before leaving the country are as follows:

  1. Notify your bank of where you are traveling and how long you will be there – otherwise your account may be flagged, leaving you without cash.
  2. 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.
  3. Check your daily ATM withdrawal limit. If you anticipate needing to access more than that amount at one time, ask your bank to raise it. Worst-case scenario, you can always withdraw cash from a teller at a foreign bank and, in most cases, be charged the same percentage fee as if you had used a debit card.

It may take a conversation with your bank and some real-time calculations, but doing research in advance will help to make reduce both stress and fees on your next international trip.

Planning to study abroad? Read more about banking tips for students abroad.

  • 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.

  • 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.