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Finance and money forum

Charles Schwab (ATM) or a Credit Union

Posted by thatvaletguy on 26/10/2010 at 22:51

Anyone have any luck with using a Credit Union or something similar like Charles Schwab to withdraw money from ATMs overseas (especially Thailand)? I've read similar forums but I have more specific questions. Who wants to pay the extra 150b anyway?

A. I've contacted Charles Schwab and they said there is no ATM fee overseas AND they cover any ATM fee that the ATM charges you. How do they make their money? It doesn't seem feasible.

B. Is the currency exchange fee charged by my bank, or the bank that owns the ATM that I'm withdrawing from?

C. In general, does using a Credit Card overseas carry its own fee?


#1 thatvaletguy has been a member since 25/10/2010. Posts: 14

Posted by eastwest on 27/10/2010 at 12:37

A. If you have that in writing it's a good thing but I wouldn't count on it. There are banks for whom those transaction fees are a very small portion of their income (think, investment banks or private banks for the superwealthy) so they can afford to offer such a thing. I don't know much about Charles Schwab so can not help you there but I guess that you'll have to pay for it somehow.

B. Withdrawal fee (from ATM) is charged by the owner of the ATM and then passed on to your bank/account. A currency exchange fee (flat fee) is normally not charged. That's an inter-bank thing and not commonly used. Only in really far out-of-the-way places like North Korea, Cuba, Zimbabwe and so on that have very soft currencies.
In general a currency exchange fee is just calculated for in the exchange rate. That is in effect the commission/profit the bank makes from your transaction.

C. Yes. It's not America and "Cash is King" applies to all (south east) asian countries. Credit card fees are normally anywhere between 3-6% of your purchase. It might be different, however, if you stay at an international hotel (Sheraton or so) that also holds a foreign account.

#2 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778
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Posted by tyraM on 24/4/2014 at 04:55

Most of us are familiar with community banks and credit unions. They preform the same functions, but there are quite differences. More and more Americans are leaving banks and considering credit unions for some reasons, such as lower interest rates and better terms on credit cards and loans than banks. Here is the source: Credit Union.

#3 tyraM has been a member since 24/4/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by DLuek on 24/4/2014 at 08:03 TF writer

I've almost exclusively used Charles Schwab over the past three years of living in Thailand and occasionally traveling to other countries. It's definitely legit. They reimburse all ATM fees at the end of the month, so I see a solid $30 kicked back into my account every month. The reason they can do it (as eastwest touched on) is that it's a huge investor bank and they make loads off trading commissions and what not. The thinking is that if they get people into the Schwab system by offering free ATM fees, many of those people will eventually start investing with Schwab. I haven't so far and there's no pressure to do so. You have to open a brokerage account at the same time as the checking account, but you don't have to keep any money in it. Overall the service I've received from Schwab has been very good and the card has saved me a solid chunk of change if you added it all up. You can also deposit checks through mobile phones with Schwab.

Schwab doesn't charge any currency exchange fee for withdrawing from international ATMs, but some banks do. Citizens Bank, for one, applies a fairly substantial exchange fee every time you withdraw from an ATM overseas -- that's on top of the regular ATM fee.

Whether a credit card carries its own fee for international transactions depends on the bank I guess. But as eastwest says, a lot of hotels and restaurants (only the big ones even accept cards) will tack on their own fee. There are usually no extra fees for booking an air ticket, but some credit card companies do charge exchange fees. I think some of the big grocery stores like Tops and Lotus don't charge their own fees for cards. But I use cash for everything except online stuff. I once saw an American pull out a card when trying to purchase a 35 baht ticket for the skytrain. The clerk just laughed at her.

#4 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,177
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Posted by TerroirTravel on 24/6/2014 at 13:57

I know it's an old thread, but...

I second what DLuek said. All my ATM and fees were reimbursed by schwab each month. I used it for ATMs, and paid cash for everything.

it's an investor checking account, so you do have to have a brokerage account as mentioned.

#5 TerroirTravel has been a member since 1/2/2014. Posts: 67
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