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The best bank accounts for travel

Best bank accounts for travel  4x3
 
  • Ally High Yield Savings Account: Best savings account for travel
  • Capital One 360: Best checking account for travel
  • SoFi Money: Best all-in-one account for travel
Not all bank accounts have travelers in mind.
In fact, too many banks still charge hefty fees for foreign transactions and out-of-network ATM usage that can eat into your travel budget.
To find the best bank accounts for travel, we looked for savings accounts to aid your planning and checking accounts that allow you to access your money with ease when you're on the road.
Below, check out the best accounts for travel, and keep reading for more on how we chose these accounts.
PFI Best Ally Bank Logo Banner

Ally High Yield Savings Account: Best savings account for travel

When to use it: When you want to set a savings goal for your next trip and see your money grow steadily without taking on any risk.
Ally has a bucket system that makes it easy for you to save for different goals in your high-yield savings account. Give your buckets different names, like "Birthday Trip" or "Airfare Fund."
You can also set up a checking account through Ally. When you need access to your savings, just transfer money from the savings account to the checking account through the online portal, and you'll be able to spend the money almost instantly.
Ally also offers an easy-to-use mobile app, making it simple to access your account while you're on the road.
Standout features: 
  • 1.50% APY on all balances
  • No monthly fees
  • Up to $250,000 in FDIC insurance per depositor
  • User-friendly mobile app
  • Bucket feature for saving for various goals in one account
  • 24/7 customer service
Keep an eye out for: Limit of six transactions per month. Federal law limits you to six monthly transactions from a savings account, regardless of who you bank with. You may want to transfer money from savings to checking all at once so you don't risk exceeding the six-transaction limit. If you go over six transactions in a month, you'll pay a $10 fee.
PFI Best Capital One 360 Logo Banner

Capital One 360: Best checking account for travel

When to use it: You socked away money for travel in your high-yield savings account and need to transfer it to checking so you have immediate access to your cash while you're traveling. You're most comfortable with a well-known retail bank and want no-fee cash withdrawals at home and in select countries abroad.
Capital One has a few hundred physical locations in the US and top-notch online banking services. You can withdraw up to $1,000 a day at any ATM worldwide using your MasterCard and Capital One won't charge a fee, though the ATM operator may. The bank ranks No. 4 on J.D. Power's US National Banking Satisfaction Study.
Capital One also offers a solid high-yield savings account earning 1.50% APY, which is a good choice if you want to keep your savings at the same bank as your checking. But if you don't mind having to transfer your travel fund over when you're ready to spend it, Wealthfront's cash account will earn you more interest, though rates are always subject to change.
Standout features: 
  • No-fee withdrawals at Capital One and AllPoint ATMs in the US and Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and Australia
  • No monthly fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Up to $250,000 FDIC insurance per depositor
  • User-friendly app with mobile check deposit
  • All balances earn 0.20% APY
Keep an eye out for: If you travel to Europe, Asia, or any other place where Capital One and AllPoint don't have ATMs, you may have to pay third-party ATM operator fees to take cash out (Capital One will never charge you an additional fee).
As for branch access, the bank only operates about 470 branches in nine states, though Capital One Cafés are popping up in big cities around the US.
PFI Best SoFi Logo Banner

SoFi Money: Best all-in-one account for travel

When to use it: To save up for a trip and then use your debit card to make purchases and withdraw money for free from the same account, no transfers required. Good for people who are OK with banking entirely online.
SoFi Money, a product from online lender SoFi, offers the best of both worlds. It's a hybrid savings/checking account with an interest rate that competes with some of the best high-yield savings accounts and a Visa debit card for easy access to your cash like a checking account. You can use your card at any ATM worldwide to withdraw up to $610 in cash per day and SoFi will reimburse the fees.
When you open a SoFi Money account, you're also granted a SoFi membership, giving you access to financial planners, an online community, social events and experiences, and rate reductions on future loans.
Standout features:
  • 0.20% APY on all balances
  • Unlimited reimbursement for ATM fees worldwide
  • No monthly fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Up to $1.5 million in FDIC insurance
  • User-friendly app with mobile check deposit
  • Joint accounts
Keep an eye out for: Again, SoFi is completely online — you'll need to call customer service when you want help with your account rather than walking into a physical location.
While SoFi doesn't charge any foreign transaction fees when you withdraw cash at an international bank or ATM, the currency exchange will result in a standard 1% margin charged by Visa.

A few other checking and savings accounts we considered and why they didn't make the cut:

  • Chase Total Checking: This account appeared on our best checking accounts list, but it charges $5 per withdrawal at non-Chase ATMs outside the US.
  • Charles Schwab High-Yield Investor Checking Account: This no-fee checking account reimburses ATM fees worldwide, but it doesn't have as many US branch locations as Capital One, if that's important to you. You also have to open a brokerage account when you open a checking account, though it's free of charge.
  • Simple Online Checking: This online-only bank offers one of the best checking/savings hybrid accounts, but it doesn't reimburse all ATM fees worldwide like SoFi.
  • Discover CashBack Debit: Discover's checking account has no monthly service fees and allows you to earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases every month, but its use is limited to the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
  • CitiBank Simple Checking: A fine checking account with options to waive the $12 monthly fee and branch locations abroad, but customer satisfaction is below average, according to J.D. Power's US National Banking Satisfaction Study.
  • HSBC: HSBC offers a good variety of checking accounts, although only those with high minimum balance or deposit requirements get ATM fees reimbursed.
  • Wealthfront: Although this account operates similarly to a high-yield savings account, it's technically a cash management account, so you aren't limited to six transactions per month like you are with Ally. Wealthfront also makes it easy to save for different goals. Wealthfront's APY is much lower than Ally's rate, though.
  • Betterment Checking: Betterment reimburses all foreign transaction fees and ATM fees worldwide, and the app is easy to use. Some features are still in the works, including joint accounts, physical checkbooks, and mobile check deposit.
  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs: This high-yield savings account, a contender for fan favorite, finally debuted an app in early 2020. It's a worthy option, but doesn't have as many goal-setting features as Wealthfront, if that's important to you.
  • American Express: With a solid 1.50% APY, this high-yield savings account is a good option if you don't mind not having mobile access.

Frequently asked questions:

Why trust our recommendations?

At Personal Finance Insider, we strive to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of savings accounts and checking accounts so you don't have to.
We understand that "best" is often subjective, however, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of an account — a high APY, for example — we outline the limitations, too.

How did we choose the best bank accounts for travel?

Generally, bank accounts are designated either savings or checking. When you're saving up for a big trip, a high-yield savings account is appropriate because you'll be able to earn some interest on your money, but still be able to access it when you need to.
A checking account may be more appropriate to use while traveling, as you'll be provided with a debit card to use at shops, restaurants, and ATMs. You may also consider using a credit card, which could provide rewards and other travel-related benefits.
That said, the best bank accounts to use for travel expenses should be appropriate for your everyday life too, with low fees, good earning potential, and easy access.

Which bank is best for traveling abroad?

The best bank for traveling abroad depends on what you're looking for, whether it's branch access, fee-free withdrawals, or no foreign transaction fees. We think the best banks in general charge low or no monthly service fees, have low minimum balance requirements, and offer good earning potential on your money.
With that said, we think SoFi, Wealthfront, and Capital One are three of the best places to keep money you're planning to spend on travel. It's worth noting, though, that SoFi and Wealthfront are brokerages and not traditional banks. These companies partner with banks to bring you products that function the same as those at traditional banks, and often with better features.

Which bank has no foreign ATM fees?

SoFi Money and Charles Schwab reimburse all ATM fees worldwide. Others, like Capital One and CitiBank, have a massive network of ATMs where you can access your money without fees, but if you go out-of-network, you may be charged a fee by the ATM operator.

Is it better to use a debit or credit card abroad?

Credit cards are generally the safest method of payment both in the US and abroad. Protections on credit cards are more extensive than debit cards, and if your credit card gets stolen, you won't need to worry about a thief draining your bank account. A no-foreign-transaction fee credit card is your best bet — you can keep your money safe and earn rewards on purchases.
Tanza Loudenback has been writing about money every day for more than three years. She is an expert on strategies for building wealth and financial products that help people make the most of their money. She is a candidate for the CFP® certification.
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