Facts

  1. Most banks charge hefty fees for using your credit card abroad, in another currency
  2. By the time you get charged by your bank, changes in values between currencies can add to the bill
  3. Withdrawing abroad usually involves an additional fee from the local bank or ATM companies
  4. In the Eurozone, none of these things happen (+1 for the EU)
  5. Walking around with a boatload of cash is never a good idea, especially abroad
  6. What I am about to share sadly is not yet available everywhere in the world…

So how to overcome this?

Fintech has the solution!

Fin… What? Nop, it is not Finnish banking, nor a company using fishes to transport your money. Fintech is how new technologies and companies operating in the world of finance and banking are categorised. A lot is happening on that field, mostly to make banks richer and leave us still pretty poor but there are a few interesting things out there, especially when it comes to international traveling and limiting the cost of banking operations, in a trip, savings matter!

New credit cards providers who don’t charge fees on international transactions

Over is the time where you could only get a credit card from your bank, after a lengthy process comparable to that of the state bureaucracy. Now, all it takes is about 10 minutes and an internet connection and you can create an account and order a Mastercard debit card for free. Sounds like even a better deal than what your bank is offering? Yes it is, and there’s more!

I only use 2 of these providers but I have heard of others too so don’t hesitate to do a quick comparative search on your DuckDuckGo/Lilo/Ecosia browser (and do some good to your privacy, the world or the planet while you’re at it):

Both work slightly differently and I won’t go into details here but here are the main features that should make you want to go for it:

  • Free account and Mastercard debit card,
  • Zero fees on payments, irrelevant of the currency,
  • Zero or small fee on withdrawals
  • Transactions are processed instantaneously and appear on the app,
  • An app that allows you to control everything you need (block card, change pin, transfers, payments/withdrawal limits etc.).
  • They can also offer travel insurance that is usually cheaper that what you would get elsewhere and have a few other side services worth checking out.

New money transfer services with limited fees

  • Azimo: to get cash out without using an ATM

You all probably know Western Union, if only by name. Well if you ever had to use it, you know it is very, very expensive. Luckily, new companies are changing the landscape, offering much cheaper options to collect money in cash abroad. I know of only one but there must be others or there will be, times, they are a changin’! This is a great tool to circumvent the ATM machine and its (usually) higher transaction cost, plus in countries like Argentinia, where there are limits on how much you can take out of an ATM machine, it gets really useful to save some cash. Depending on what methods of payments you use and the country you are in, it can take as little as 30 minutes before you can go pick up your money.

How it works:

  1. Create an account on the app,
  2. Connect it to a credit card (or you can pay by money transfers, it is longer to process),
  3. Choose a country, look at the available options for picking up your money,
  4. Make a payment and go pick up the cash at the pre-defined location.
  5. At the time of this article, it costs 2,99euros per transaction, irrelevant of the amount sent.
  6. It is also worth noting that they do not use the most updated exchange rates so you can pay an additional, small hidden fee there.

This one does not allow to pick up cash but it is (usually) much cheaper that what your bank would charge you to make a transfer abroad. This can come in handy if you have a friend in the country that could withdraw cash for you or to pay for some services that do not offer credit card payments. They also introduced a ¨borderless account¨ that apparently permanently solves your problem with inter-currency fees but I have not tried it so I won´t comment on it.

That´s all folks!

There are probably a few more services available out there, or new ones that will be created in the near future so do spend some time researching if you are embarking on a long trip or are a frequent traveler. While this services are great, you should still always have a stash of dollars or euros somewhere for emergencies. With these options though, you will already have saved quite a bit of money, safeguarded your savings account for the next trip and made your life easier while traveling, and who doesn’t like spending more on fun than on banks?

Feel free to comment and add services and share around so we all participate in the banking revolution that destroys borders and frees the flow of people all throughout our beautiful world.