4 Best Banks for International Travel

Jul 12, 2021

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When traveling abroad, you can save money by finding a bank with low wire-transfer charges, decent currency conversion rates and competitive international bank ATM fees.

Why you can trust NerdWallet: Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines to make sure our coverage is fair and accurate, so you can choose the financial accounts that work best for you. See our criteria for evaluating banks and credit unions.

+ See a summary of our best banks for international travel (Skip to more details on each bank from the links below)

Best banks for international travel

Here are our favorite banks for international travel:

Charles Schwab Bank: Best for using ATMs

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®
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Perhaps the best feature of Charles Schwab Bank is that it refunds all ATM fees you incur worldwide. International ATM fee reimbursement is one of the most important account features on our list. Having free access to cash machines while you’re traveling is usually cheaper than converting money at an airport or retail center, where you may be charged exorbitant exchange fees.

Some banks offer free ATM use, including refunds of any fees charged by the machine’s owner. But it’s usually available internationally only for those with premium checking accounts, which tend to require high minimum balances.

Not so for Schwab Bank customers who use the High Yield Investor Checking Account. The account earns interest and has no minimum balance and no monthly fee.  There are no foreign transaction fees, either. The checking account will need to be linked to a Schwab One brokerage account. (Read our Charles Schwab Bank review for more details.)

Capital One 360: Best on foreign transaction fees

Capital One 360 Checking
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Though it’s not the only bank that doesn’t ding you for international purchases, Capital One 360 is a NerdWallet favorite because its fees are low across the board. When you make purchases abroad, or even if you buy something online from a retailer based outside the U.S., many banks charge special fees on the transaction. Capital One 360 doesn’t.

The bank doesn’t have monthly maintenance or ATM fees. The owner of the ATM might charge you, but Capital One 360 won’t.

All things considered, Capital One 360 is a good option if you want to make purchases in a currency besides the U.S. dollar, either online or on foreign soil. (Read our Capital One 360 review for more details on what the bank has to offer).

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HSBC Bank: Best for expats

HSBC Advance Checking - up to $240 Cash Bonus
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HSBC helps people relocating to other countries by allowing them to open an account before they arrive, and its mobile app lets depositors monitor and move money between HSBC accounts in multiple countries. That’s especially handy for frequent globetrotters. If you’re moving out of the U.S. or trying to maintain financial ties with another country where you previously lived, opening a bank account with a large, international bank can be a wise move.

The bank has several other traveler-friendly services, including the ability to send money via wire transfer. Premier checking account holders can receive international wire transfers for free. Outgoing international wire transfers may come with a fee if the receiving account is not also an HSBC Premier account.

Unless you use Premier checking, the bank charges a foreign transaction fee on debit card purchases. Still, expats may find far more pros than cons. (Read our HSBC Direct review to learn more about what the bank has to offer.)

Citibank: Best for wiring money

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While many banks offer customers a way to send money directly without going through a third-party wire transfer service, few do it as elegantly as Citibank, which offers free international transfers to other Citi accounts through the Citibank Global Transfers service.

There is a major caveat. If you need to wire money internationally to someone who doesn’t have a Citibank account, the fee could be as high as $35. (Read our Citibank review for more details about what the bank has to offer.)

If you have relatives or other ties to people in another country, you may need to send them money regularly — and preferably without paying through the nose each time. No matter what method you use, check the fees and currency conversion rates against the World Bank’s remittance database so you don’t overpay.


We took a close look at more than 85 financial institutions, including the largest U.S. banks based on assets, debit card volume, internet search traffic and other factors; the nation’s largest credit unions, based on deposits as well as broad-based membership requirements; and other notable and/or emerging players in the industry. We rated them on criteria including annual percentage yields, minimum balances, monthly and foreign transaction fees, and digital experience.

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