For business travelers with regular overseas trips, banking with an institution that’s part of the Global ATM Alliance will help to reduce ATM fees.
The Global ATM Alliance is a partnership between select banks around the world that mutually reduces foreign ATM fees for its account holders. Obviously for international travelers, a perk like this is awfully enticing for opening an account at a participating bank. But what exact fees are waived, and what banks take part? We’ll answer these questions and more in this short guide.
Your first question is probably something along the lines of, does the Global ATM Alliance eliminate all foreign transaction fees? Unfortunately, no. In a regular ATM transaction while abroad, you can get hit with a few different charges, like a conversion fee or an operator fee or some other fee they just made up last week (I’m kidding, sort of). Where the Global ATM Alliance saves you is usually in one select area, not all, and specifics tend to vary by bank. Ultimately, though, you are saving something.
So what banks are involved? As of today, the below are in the partnership:
Information for U.S. citizens
For U.S. citizens, only Bank of America is in the Global ATM Alliance. The other banks listed above are based elsewhere in the world. On one hand, this makes our job a little bit easier, as there’s no sense in researching which bank eliminates the most fees for us–we’ve only got one option. On the other hand, limited choices mean limited accessibility. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not you want to go to the trouble of opening a Bank of America account to reduce foreign ATM fees. If you travel overseas multiple times a year, it’s probably worth it.
Other tips for reducing foreign transaction fees
With a travel rewards credit card, all foreign transaction fees are typically waived, as with the United Airlines MileagePlus Club card. When I travel abroad, I tend to use my credit card as much as possible and visit the ATM once so I have a reserve of cash if needed, thereby minimizing my fees to a single transaction.
However, not all destinations are credit card friendly. When I was in Japan, none of the little hole-in-the-wall ramen places (the best ones) took card, and I was going through cash pretty quickly. In cases like this, where you’re repeatedly visiting the ATM because you’re paying with cash more than expected, getting a few ATM fees waived would be helpful.
Alternatively, you could also convert cash at your bank before you depart and avoid foreign ATMs altogether, though you’ll likely still be charged a conversion fee. This is similar to what the Global ATM Alliance does for international travelers–reducing some fees, but not all.
Do you have an account with a bank in the Global ATM Alliance? What has your experience been like using foreign ATMs? Comment and share!
Business Travel Life
Business Travel Life is an online resource supporting the road warrior lifestyle. We give business travelers the tools they need to maintain their wellness and productivity when traveling. The topics we cover include business travel tips, travel workouts, healthy travel hacks, travel products, general travel tips, and industry trends. Our goal is to make business travel a healthier experience – and to make healthy travel practices more accessible to all road warriors.