The One Hack That Will Save You Hundreds While Traveling

Make this one simple switch to save yourself time, headaches, and hundreds of dollars while traveling.

Things I hate: Searching for a no-fee ATM, cash-only establishments, and foreign exchange fees. Things I love: Finding a bank that eliminates all of those things.

If you’re paying ATM charges or penalties for using your debit or credit card while traveling, stop that right now. There are plenty of banks out there that now offer no monthly fees, no foreign transaction penalties, and will even refund any ATM fees you might incur from other banks.

This means you can use any ATM you like while traveling abroad and never waste time trying to find one that won’t wallop you with fees. You can take out money in small increments, since you won’t have to worry about paying a surcharge each time (which means you won’t be trying to blow all your leftover cash on airport souvenirs at the end of your trip).

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I use Cambridge Savings Bank (CSB) for my checking account. The bank refunds up to $12 in ATM fees every month, and you can use any bank’s ATM without incurring a charge from CSB.

For my credit card, I carry VentureOne from CapitalOne, which doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees for purchases made outside the United States. There’s no monthly fee for the VentureOne, either, and it includes complimentary auto rental insurance, 24-hour travel assistance services, and travel accident insurance.

If you’re thinking this sounds like an ad for CSB and CapitalOne, it’s not. I am not being compensated in any way for this story—I just love not paying fees! (However, CapitalOne, if you’re reading this and want to knock a few hundred dollars off of my bill this month, feel free!)

To find a bank that refunds ATM fees, Internet-based companies that don’t have many (or any) physical branches are a good place to start looking. Charles Schwab Bank, Capital One 360, Fidelity, and First Republic Bank are all solid options.

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Caroline Morse is a Senior Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow her adventures on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline and on Twitter @CarolineMorse1.

By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo,, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

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