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Getting cash overseas
[SIZE=3][FONT=Helvetica][COLOR=rgb(0, 0, 0)]One thing rarely mentioned here is getting cash in foreign countries. I realize that using cash is anathema to credit card junkies, but it can be surprisingly useful, and in many countries it is much appreciated. In an Italian bank I saw merchant rates for credit cards posted, and some exceeded five percent. That’s a huge hit for most small businesses.
Anyway, Capital One is an easy one, they have free checking and savings accounts (and their Capital One 360 is currently paying 1.6%, at the higher end for a savings account) and none of their products markup foreign exchange rates.
Citibank Priority gets you no mark up on freight exchange. If you have $50k or more in a mutual fund or 401k that you don’t fiddle with much, you can move that to a Citibank investment account to gain Priority status. If you fiddle a lot with your investments their transaction fees may not make sense.
And there seem to be promos, $400 for depositing $15,000 for 60 days is a great return.
If you have $200,000 to put put in a Citibank investment account you get Citibank Gold, which has some extra stuff like ATM fee refunds. One or both of these accounts also gets you a $100 discount on the Prestige card annual fee, making that card more compelling.
Recently I was in a foreign country and the ATM machine near our apartment had a skimmer, which I learned when both my ATM cards were compromised. Citibank recognized the fraudulent transaction and blocked it, Cap One let it happen but refunded me when I alerted them. Both then blocked my ATM card until they replaced it. Turn on text message alerts for foreign transactions!
So I got a third debit card as a backup, which is probably the best one of all. Charles Schwab offers a free checking account that comes with a debit card that has no foreign exchange fees and also refunds ATM fees.
Anyone else have great ideas on cash and foreign exchange rates?[/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE]
I think Charles Schwab is the way to go. It’s what I use, as do many of my friends, for purposes of obtaining cash outside of the US. I’ve had some issues with ATMs not in the right network as the Schwab card, but it’s not often and usually, I’m able to find another ATM that works.
You can find really good rates if you shop arround your local currency exchange shops, but I find it a little risquy having 2-5k on me so I just use the local ATM’s (not the crappy private ones). I find you get decent rates and avoid the risk of loosing thousands from various senarios. My parents in law just got 2k stolen in Malaga. They where keeping all their cash with them. Also, it’s very frequent to have merchants impose their own processing fees. I’ve seen this in Australia/Europe/Japan a lot.