banking

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on the best bank accounts for living abroad. Here’s my situation. As a blogger, all the money I make needs to be easily directly deposited into a bank account.  I need to be able to withdraw money in various currencies from ATM’s throughout the world. I also need to be able to keep track of my banking activity online.

If you live abroad or are frequently traveling it is probably very important for you to also have easy access to money without being charged a hefty fee.

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So, a few weeks ago the search began. I was home in the US visiting my family and took advantage of that time by contacting countless banks and doing a lot of online research.

Here is my narrowed down list of contenders:

Bank of America

Charles Schwab

Ally

Capital One 360

 

Let’s go through each one to give you a better idea of the pros and cons.

 

Bank of America:

Pros:

-If you are student it is possible to get a free Bank of America checking account until you are 22 years old.

-You can register online

-Bank of America is also part of the Global ATM Alliance which allows it’s customers to withdraw money from AtM’s at a variety of banks throughout the world free of charge. Other members of this alliance are:

  • Bank of America (USA)
  • Barclays (UK)
  • BNP Paribas (France)
  • BNL (Italy)
  • UkrSibbank (Ukraine)
  • TEB (Turkey)
  • Scotiabank (Canada, Peru, Chile, and the Caribbean)
  • Deutsche Bank (Germany and Spain)
  • Westpac (Australia and New Zealand)

Cons:

-Although you will not be charged an ATM fee if withdrawing from one of these banks, you may be charged a currency exchange fee.

-If you are not a student and do not qualify for a free checking account you will have to pay a monthly service fee for your bank account. This fee varies by location, so contact your local Bank of America for more information.

-You need to be a US resident to register.

 

Charles Schwab:

Pros:

-No minimum balance

-No setup cost

-No ATM fees worldwide (they’ll refund any fees imposed by the ATM owner)

-You can register online (it’s super easy)

-No foreign transaction fees

-No currency exchange markup

Cons:

-You need to be a US resident to register

-You need to open a Schwab One brokerage account along with your free checking account, but you are under no obligation to use it and it is free to sign up.

 

Ally:

Pros:

-Free bill pay

-No maintenance fees

-No minimum balance

Cons:

-No physical locations (only online banking)

-Small charge of 1% for ATM withdrawals and debit card usage

Capital One 360

Pros:

-No monthly fees

-No minimum balance

-Free money transfers between other people who bank with Capital One

-Access to over 38,000 Capital One and Allpoint ATM’s for free worldwide

Cons:

-You can be charged fees from ATM’s you use, even if Capital One does not charge you.

 

Ultimately I ended up with Charles Schwab. I received many really positive recommendations from friends living abroad and after reviewing my choices they seemed to be the best option for me as well. Do your own research though. What I need in a bank may be different than what you need. 

I will say, so far I’ve been extremely happy with Charles Schwab and I highly recommend them.

When you look into a bank make sure to check out the cost of withdrawing from ATM’s worldwide and see if there will be a foreign transaction fee. These are really important because you could be charged a hefty fee without knowing.
Note: If you are living or studying abroad and need your family or friends from back home to transfer money to you, I suggest checking out HiFX. They are my personal fave for all money transfer needs because their services are extremely easy to use and the offer a great rate. Plus, they also have amazing customer service, making them a company I really trust.



If you have any experience with other banks abroad please leave them in the comments section.

 

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banking

Sarah
Creator of The Wanderlanders | Lives in Costa Rica | Folk music lover | Travel addict | Craft beer snob

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