The Best ATM Card for International Travel

Written by liz tomas
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The Best ATM Card for International Travel
The best ATM cards for international travel are those with the lowest fees. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

When travelling internationally, obtaining money through an ATM is usually the cheapest and easiest way to get cash. An important benefit to ATM cash withdrawal over other form of money exchange is that, no matter the amount of the withdrawal, you are charged the wholesale exchange rate. The wholesale rate is normally only used for large interbank exchanges, but also applies to ATM withdrawals. However; there can be additional fees associated with ATM withdrawals, depending on the ATM card and the bank.

Cirrus Network

If your ATM card has the Cirrus icon in the corner, you can withdraw money from any ATM with the Cirrus logo. Cirrus is an interbank network operated by MasterCard. This ATM network is the largest in the world with more than 800,000 ATMs found internationally. Before you travel, check to see the location of Cirrus ATMs, as the number of ATMs available differs per country. Also, be aware of the standard transaction fee, no matter where you are in the world.

Your Normal ATM Card

Check with your bank to see if it is part of a Global ATM Alliance. Whenever you use an ATM from a bank within the Alliance you are not charged an ATM withdrawal fee, and the currency conversions fee is very low, at about 1 per cent. For instance; an individual with a Bank of America debit card can get cash from ATMs at these banks without any additional fees: BNP Paribas in France, Barclays in the United Kingdom, BNL D'Italia in Italy, Westpac Bank in New Zealand and Australia, Scotiabank in Canada and the Caribbean islands, China Construction Bank in China, Banco Santander in Mexico and Deutsche Bank in Germany. If you use an ATM from another bank, you are charged additional fees.


The PLUS debit card works the same way as the Cirrus network except the network is provided through VISA. More than 1.7 million PLUS ATMs are located in more than 200 countries. Check to see if your debit card has the PLUS logo. Normally the ATM has many different logos, showing which cards can be accepted. If you see the PLUS logo, you can get cash from that ATM.

Prepaid Debit

Prepaid debit cards, also known as cash cards, allows you to load a specific amount of money onto the card and withdraw that amount at your leisure. The best prepaid card available is that from Nationwide, as all others charge very high money loading fees and withdrawal fees. Nationwide does not charge a foreign loading fee or any ATM withdrawal fees. These cash cards add additional security, as you do not have to worry about your debit or credit card information being stolen when travelling.

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