When you travel, baking becomes difficult. Visiting a branch bank to deposit checks is tedious. Finding an ATM that is “in-network” so you don’t have to pay a fee always seems impossible when you need cash. If you travel internationally, you’re slapped with currency conversion fees. In my experience, Charles Schwab Bank has the best checking account offering for frequent travelers.
I’m in Minneapolis this week, doing some preliminary work on a new project that will take me to Canada. This post comes to you courtesy of a discussion I had with my team about banking accounts and traveling.
Charles Schwab Bank looks very much like the ideal bank for a frequent traveler.
In an ideal world, what would a bank catering to frequent travelers look like? Here’s my list:
- Excellent telephone customer service. Stuff happens. And when it happens with banks, the consequences can be quite painful. I want problems resolved quickly and in my favor.
- Get cash anywhere for free. An ideal bank would allow you to get cash from any ATM, with no fee. It would also refund any fees that an ATM charged you…and this would happen automatically.
- No hidden fees. The bank would not have any fees for inactivity, balances below a certain thresholds, online access, customer service
- Mobile deposits. I receive checks a lot more often than I would like to and being able to deposit them with a smartphone app is wonderful. A bank should offer prepaid deposit envelopes so that you can mail in your check if the smartphone app rejects it for some reason.
- Free checks. Some times, you need to write a check (for me, it’s annual vehicle registration). You should be able to get a number of checks
- Downloads automatically into Quicken. I use Quicken to manage and track my personal finances, so for me this is a must. No matter what you use to manage your finances, your bank should integrate easily into your system.
- Reasonable interest rate. Really, I’m not looking to make money on my checking account, but getting SOMETHING for the money sitting there would be nice.
- High-quality, user-friendly online banking interface. I don’t really want to spend that much time managing my bank account, or figuring out how to navigate its website. If the website enables me to do what I need to do and get out, that is a positive in my book.
- No foreign transaction or currency conversion fees. I should not have to pay a fee for the privilege of using my debit card to get cash in another country or in another currency. Just convert the money into the currency and debit my account that amount.
Charles Schwab Bank’s High Yield Investor Checking product fulfills almost every point on my above wishlist and, for my needs, no other bank I’ve seen comes close. I’ve been a customer of them for several years and have always been quite pleased with both their product and their service. Here’s where to find out more information about their checking products:
There are many banks that offer a checking account that is a good deal for many travelers, and I have had accounts with many other banks before. Here is a list of the banks I (or my readers) have experience with and some of the differences between them and Schwab. I’ll expand this as I hear from you
- CapitalOne 360 – Does not reimburse ATM fees; does not provide envelopes for deposits. Allows person-to-person payments.
- EverBank – Requires minimum balance of $5000 for ATM fee reimbursements.
Readers, what is your experience with baking accounts and travel? Did I forget something on my wishlist? Do you know of a major bank that has a better offering for travelers? Please post your comments below.