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Best Banks' Cards for Travel?

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Jun 23rd, 2010, 03:24 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Jun 2010
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Best Banks' Cards for Travel?

Hi, I'm a college student travelling to Germany in about 2 weeks - if all goes as planned - and I read I should bring a debit card. I'm worried about using ATMs abroad and getting stuck with huge fees. I've never travelled to Europe or used a debit card before, so this is all new to me! I'm sure there are things I haven't thought of or misunderstood when I was looking this up! I'm from the U.S.A. and I understand that Visa or MasterCard would be the best bets. (I have applied for a Visa Credit Card already.) I've checked online and found these four options which look good:

1) USAA Debit MasterCard with Free Checking Account
2) State Farm Visa CheckCard with Personal Checking
3) PNC Bank Visa Check Card with Free/Student Free/Performance Checking
4) Presidential Visa Check Card with Internet/Regular Checking

I would really appreciate any opinions or information anyone has about these or other options. I just want to use the card abroad in Germany, several days in Venice (hopefully) and maybe a day or two in Switzerland or Austria.

My wish list is:
1) Doesn't require large balance in the account. ( Prefer less than a thousand.)
2) ATM fees for foreign transactions, converting currency and using other banks' ATMs small or nothing.
3) Same for foreign transaction fees for using the card as a credit card to make purchases. (I'll probably still use my credit card for purchases, so this is not a deal breaker.)
4) Bank doesn't stop purchases on card after you notify them you're going to make purchases in Europe.
5) Low liability if notify bank of theft of card as soon as discovered.

Thank you!
nunzia2635 is offline  
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Jun 24th, 2010, 05:37 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 555
With our PNC checking account, PNC does not charge us anything for using their check/debit card in an ATM anywhere in the world (if we happen to use an ATM that does charge a transaction fee, then PNC credits the amount to our account).

I guess you know that European bank-owned ATMs will not charge you anything.

For credit card purchases, our USAA credit card does not charge anything other than passing on the MasterCard network 1% foreign transaction fee.
Paul1950 is offline  
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Jun 24th, 2010, 05:46 AM
  #3
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 73,274
Hi nun,

I wouldn't get a debit card. It is no different from writing a check. The money comes directly out of your bank account that day.

In addition, if the card is compromised, it can take weeks to get your account cleared up.

A CC allows you some leeway to pay and is much easier to fix if the card is lost or stolen.

I have both a Schwab and a CapitalOne credit card. I also have an ATM card from my home bank, and can use my American Express card for ATM, if necessary.

Neither the Schwab nor the CapOne cards charge "conversion fees". Schwab doesn't charge an ATM fee.

I realize that you might not have sufficient credit history to get a CC, but your parents might be able to help out. They could open an account with you as an additional card.

Enjoy your visit.


In future, don't wait to the last minute before seeking advice.
ira is offline  
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Jun 24th, 2010, 05:56 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,204
Credit Unions are often a good bet, too.

~Liz
elberko is online now  
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Jun 24th, 2010, 06:53 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,083
I used to have an ATM card from my credit union. They told me I needed a debit (check) card to get money out in Europe. The debit card had symbols for the various networks unlike the ATM card. So I switched and it worked.

In fact I have 2 credit union debit cards as well as 2 credit cards. There is no charge for an ATM withdrawal (abroad) on either debit card, and the exchange rate for all withdrawals or charges is only the system standard 1% over the bank rate.

So, ira, if you use your ATM card from your home bank, doesn't the money come out immediately?

To the OP, in case of emergency, you can get cash from your credit card, but only as a last resort because they start charging interest immediately.
Mimar is offline  
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Jun 24th, 2010, 07:12 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,224
PNC charges a 3% foreign transaction fee for obtaining money from an ATM. They do not charge for ATM withdrawals under certain conditions. It depends on the checking account you have. Some require a $2000 balance. So check.
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