How to withdraw money abroad: Fees, rates & best ATM cards

If you’re off on a trip abroad you’ll need to have access to cash in the local currency during your stay. Carrying all your travel money as cash isn’t safe, and travelers checks aren’t widely used in many countries. So what’s the alternative?

Read on for our guide to overseas ATM withdrawals, including fees, tips to save money when paying abroad, and some alternatives to make international withdrawals, such as using an online provider like Wise or Revolut.

Quick summary: Best ways to get cash abroad

  • You can make ATM withdrawals overseas with a US issued debit, credit or prepaid card
  • You may need to issue a travel notice to inform the bank you’re headed away, or you might need to activate your card for international use before you leave
  • International ATM withdrawals can have higher fees compared to domestic, including a withdrawal charge of about 5 USD with a debit card, plus a foreign transaction fee of about 3%
  • Non-bank alternatives like Wise or Revolut have debit cards which can offer some no fee ATM withdrawals every month, as well as mid-market rate currency conversion

Can I withdraw money in a different country?

Yes. You can withdraw cash in the local currency when you’re overseas by finding an ATM which accepts your US issued debit or credit card.

  • To use your US card overseas you may need to inform your bank of your travel plans, and you’ll need to know your PIN.
  • There may be fees to pay for making an overseas cash withdrawal, including foreign transaction fees or cash advance fees if you use a credit card.
  • There may also be limits on the amount you can withdraw on a daily or monthly basis which you’ll need to be aware of.

If you’re unsure of how your specific card will work overseas, or the associated fees and limits, you can contact your card issuer directly to ask for more information.

How does an international ATM withdrawal work?

  • Withdrawing money abroad using ATMs works similarly to domestic withdrawals. However, you’ll need to make sure your credit, debit or prepaid card is activated for international use, and issued on a network that’s globally accepted, such as Mastercard and Visa
  • When you withdraw money overseas, you’ll receive your cash in the local currency wherever you are. If you don’t have a balance in that currency in your bank account, the card network will calculate the cost to you in USD using their exchange rate, and debit that amount in dollars from your account
  • Having a travel optimized account from a provider like Wise or Revolut which offer multi-currency balance options can be convenient as you can exchange your USD to the currency you need ahead of time, to easily keep track of your travel budget
  • Using a multi-currency account is a smart move as it allows you to convert between balances at a very low cost, either in advance or at the point of payment, and then withdraw directly in the local currency when you need cash

What is the best way to withdraw money overseas?

You can withdraw cash from ATMs overseas fairly easily in most cases. ATMs are found widely in most towns and cities, although it’s worth bearing in mind that there are some more rural destinations where you may struggle to find one.

Generally you can choose to make ATM withdrawals with a debit, credit or prepaid card.

  • Debit cards can be a cheap option, particularly if you have a travel card which charges no ATM fee and uses a good exchange rate for currency conversion.
  • Credit cards often have a cash advance fee and interest which starts immediately for cash withdrawals, which can make them quite pricey.
  • Prepaid cards vary a lot in terms of fees, but can present decent value if you choose one which has been designed with international travel in mind.

If you plan to make overseas cash withdrawals you’ll need to make sure your debit, credit or prepaid card can be used internationally. In some cases you’ll need to take a specific activation step for this service, or you’ll need to tell the card issuer you’re heading overseas to stop anti-fraud technology blocking card use.

You’ll also need to make sure you’re aware of the fees that will apply to your specific card when using it abroad. Some international travel card services like Wise or Revolut offer no-fee ATM withdrawals overseas, but with bank issued cards it’s pretty standard to meet withdrawal and foreign transaction fees for overseas use. We’ll look more at the best ATM cards for international use, next.

Best ATM cards for international travel

While you can use most credit or debit cards in overseas ATMs, there are some which may be more convenient or cheaper than others. Here are a few you might want to consider using – we’ll walk through the general steps to make an international ATM withdrawal in just a moment.

Wise card international ATM withdrawals

Wise cards can be used for ATM withdrawals in 150+ countries, wherever the card network is supported. You’ll be able to make some free ATM withdrawals every month before any Wise fees apply, and all currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate with low fees.

Wise accounts support multi-currency balances in 40+ currencies, you can choose to either add money in USD and convert to the currency you need in your destination in advance, or to let the card do the conversion for you when you withdraw.

The Wise card is optimized for international travel, so there’s no need to inform the provider of your travel plans. Just make sure your card is activated and you know your PIN, and you can use it overseas just as conveniently as you can at home.

Go to Wise

You can learn more on Wise Card Review and How to use Wise card abroad

Revolut card international ATM withdrawals

Revolut offers several different account types in the US, all of which come with a linked debit card for overseas ATM withdrawals. You can use your card to make some no-fee withdrawals every month before any fees apply – although the no-fee transaction limits do vary quite widely between account types.

Revolut accounts also offer some no-fee weekday currency conversion, with limits varying by plan type. If you exceed your plan limit, you’ll pay a fair usage fee, and there’s also an out of hours fee if you’re converting when currency markets are closed.

You don’t need to inform Revolut that you plan to travel – just pack your card and you’re good to make withdrawals anywhere you see the network logo displayed.

Go to Revolut

Learn more: Revolut travel card review

Wells Fargo international ATM withdrawals

You can use a standard commercial Wells Fargo debit or ATM card for overseas withdrawals. You’ll need to have a 4 digit PIN for your card to use it overseas. Some Wells Fargo cards have an alphabetic PIN – if yours does, you’ll be able to convert it to a numeric PIN at a Wells Fargo ATM before you travel, or by calling the number on the back of your card.

You do not need to tell Wells Fargo you’re planning to travel, but it is important to make sure your contact details are up to date, in case the bank needs to contact you while you’re away. Normal fees are 5 USD for an international cash withdrawal, plus 3% foreign transaction fee. There’s also a 2.5 USD fee to check your balance or transfer funds at an overseas ATM.

Learn more: Wells Fargo international fees

Chase international ATM withdrawals

Chase issues a selection of debit cards you can use internationally, including the popular Total Checking account card. You’ll pay a fee of 5 USD to make an ATM withdrawal overseas with Chase, plus a 3% foreign transaction fee. Depending on the card and account you have with Chase, it may be a good idea to set a travel notice to ensure your card isn’t blocked while you’re abroad. Double check whether this is necessary for your specific account before you travel.

Learn more: Chase debit cards international fees

Withdrawing money at ATMs overseas: Step by step

Withdrawing cash at ATMs abroad is a handy solution for anyone who wants to have cash on hand while traveling. While card use is pretty common globally, there are still some countries where cash is king – and some transaction types, such as buying small items in a market, where using cash makes more sense than using your card. Here are a few things to consider when you’re using your US issued debit, credit or prepaid card overseas.

Let your bank know that you’re traveling abroad

Some banks require you to activate your card specifically for international use, and some also need you to inform them of your travel plans. This is because fraud detection tools may pick up unusual patterns of spending and block the card if the bank is not aware that you’re overseas. If you need to issue a travel notice, you may be able to do so online, or by calling your bank.

  • Make sure your card is activated for international use, and tell the bank you plan to travel if that’s required
  • Update your contact information with your bank in case they need to get in touch while you’re abroad
  • Check your bank’s international ATM limits as they may be different to domestic limits
  • Consider getting a specific travel card from a provider like Wise or Revolut – you won’t need to inform the card issuer when you travel, and cards offer some no-fee ATM withdrawals, too

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

Choose the right ATM

When you’re away from home you may need to do a little research to find ATMs which you can use, and which can help you keep down the costs of international withdrawals. Some US banks have partnerships with banks in other countries, which allow you to make low or no fee withdrawals, for example – but you’ll need to check what your options are with your bank before you travel. We’ll cover more on fees, and how you can cut them, later on.

  • Look for ATMs that support your card type (Visa or Mastercard for example) – the network logo will be prominently displayed
  • Check if you need to find a specific international ATM – in some countries, such as Japan, not all ATMs can accept foreign cards so you need to look out for specific terminals
  • Watch the ATM screen for warnings about extra fees – some ATM operators add a charge, which is on top of anything you need to pay your bank for the withdrawal
  • Some international banks have ATMs in different countries. Withdrawing from the same bank as in your home country will help you save on fees
  • Travel cards like Wise and Revolut are on the Visa or Mastercard networks, which allows global coverage as well as low costs

Select the type of withdrawal

At an overseas ATM you might find you’re asked if you’d prefer to pay in USD or the local currency wherever you are. It’s always best to pay in the local currency, as this means your bank or card network will manage the conversion – usually with a far better exchange rate than that used by the ATM.

  • Always choose the local currency to withdraw money, to get the lowest overall costs
  • The amount will be converted back to USD according to the currency exchange rate of the day to be billed to your account
  • Cards like the Wise card and the Revolut card can automatically convert your USD balance to the currency you need, using the mid-market exchange rate

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

💡 Good to know:
Always pay in the local currency. Merchants or ATMs often charge dynamic currency conversion (DCC) fees on card payments to convert foreign currency into local currency. These fees can push up your costs dramatically.

For example, for the best way to get cash in the Eurozone, always click the EUR button to opt to pay in euros. In the UK go for GBP, and in Japan, JPY.

Withdrawal fees abroad

You’ll often find that there are costs to withdraw money overseas. In fact, you may pay any of the following charges, depending on your specific card:

Fees charged by your bank or card issuer – these costs will be set out in your account terms and conditions. Major US banks can charge around 5 USD per withdrawal, although some non-bank alternatives like Wise and Revolut offer some free withdrawals every month

Fees charged by the ATM operator – this fee is paid to the bank or network that owns the ATM, and can vary a lot. Where this charge is applied you’ll usually be shown a message on screen before you confirm your withdrawal, so you can find another ATM if you’d rather not pay the extra fee

Exchange rate markup fees – you’ll usually pay for currency conversion. This may be in the form of a foreign transaction fee of around 3%, or it may be as a conversion fee added to the exchange rate being used to convert your USD to the required currency

Learn more about how to avoid international ATM fees.

Advantages and disadvantages of withdrawing money abroad

✅Sometimes cash is the only accepted payment method, such as at small markets

✅ Withdrawing little and often is safer than carrying lots of cash at once

✅ Using ATMs to get local cash saves time in exchange offices

✅ Some debit and travel cards offer free ATM withdrawals with fair exchange rates

✅ You can find ATMs in most towns and cities, making this a reliable and convenient choice

❌ You’ll usually pay a fee for withdrawals with a bank card – 5 USD is fairly common

❌ Banks may also charge a foreign transaction fee of around 3%

❌ In more rural areas, or during public holidays you may struggle to find an ATM in some countries

Extra tips when withdrawing cash abroad

Let’s round off with some final hints and tips to make international ATM withdrawals easier and cheaper:

  • Create a multi-currency account: With a multi-currency account from a provider like Wise or Revolut you can convert your balance to the currency you need and make withdrawals directly from your account with a debit card. This is often cheap and also makes budget planning far easier as you can see what money you have in the local currency in your destination
  • Avoid non-bank operated ATMs: Picking an ATM that’s attached to a bank rather than in a store, mall or bar, can mean lower fees and a better exchange rate. ATMs in places like bars can often add in extra fees as they know customers don’t have any alternative close by
  • Check the transaction limits: Many banks and providers set limits for the maximum amount that can be withdrawn, which may be lower overseas compared to at home. You may be able to adjust these limits from your account – with Wise, as an example, you can set your own single transaction, daily and monthly limits to suit your needs
  • Make sure to bring some cash with you: It can be reassuring to convert some cash before your departure to avoid last-minute surprises, like finding that your card isn’t working in ATMs, or reaching the withdrawal limit

Conclusion: Best ways to get cash abroad

Using ATMs to withdraw cash when you travel is convenient and secure. If you pick a travel card from a provider like Wise or Revolut, it can also be a pretty cheap option.

Using a travel optimized card can mean you get some no fee ATM withdrawals every month, as well as mid-market exchange rate currency conversion. This means you avoid foreign transaction fees which push up costs by about 3% in many cases. Use this guide to decide on your best option for travel cash, based on your personal preference and destination.

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

Overseas ATM withdrawals FAQs

Is it possible to withdraw money with a debit card abroad?

Yes. You can use an international debit card easily overseas, by looking out for the card network logo on an ATM. Visa and Mastercard are usually the most accepted networks, offering great global coverage. You might need to tell your bank you’re traveling or activate your card for international use before you leave the US.

How much does it cost to withdraw money abroad?

Banks can often have ATM debit card fees of about 5 USD, plus a foreign transaction fee of about 3%. Credit cards often have far higher fees. However, this does vary so you’ll need to check the terms and conditions of your own account before you travel. A good option is to get a travel card before you go, from a provider like Wise or Revolut, to get some no fee ATM withdrawals no matter where you are in the world. Learn more: Best travel cards without foreign transaction fees

Claire Millard
Fintech Content Writer
Claire Millard is a content and copywriter with a specialty in international finance. Her work has featured in The Times and The Telegraph, as well as industry magazines and leading personal finance blogs.
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Seyma Mektepli
Seyma is an experienced content writer and editor-in-chief at Exiap, delivering informative articles on personal finance, and money transfers.
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Last updated
May 31st, 2024