A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happiness for 99 cents

Or, how best to exchange the dollar....

After some internet research it sounds like the best deal is to get a MasterCard Capitol 1 No Hassles Card that is the great for international travel with no foreign exchange fees. As long as the merchant doesn't charge for credit transactions this will be the main choice for our charges: rooms, flights, train tickets, etc. Except in Africa. I hear it's a no-no to use credit cards because of the rampant fraud problems.

As far as getting money out of your bank account regularly so you don't have to carry too much at once, the best I found was to open a Schwab High Yield Checking Account (only catch: you have to open a Schwab One Brokerage Account first. ) which has no account fees and no minimums. Just takes a little time to apply for one, transfer money in, then apply for the other. I've called and emailed Schwab twice, and I have to say they have FANTASTIC customer service. After the trip we may have to dump good ole B of A altogether.

Why is Schwab checking so good? Well, you get a Visa Platinum card that you can use at any ATM all over the world, they do not charge you to withdraw money from a foreign bank, and they even reimburse you if the bank charges you a fee! And on top of that there are no extra foreign currency exchange fees. Can't beat that with a stick. Now, where did that expression come from? You can beat most things with a stick. And in the case of a pinata, you even get a sweet surprise afterwards.


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