USAA is a banking and insurance company designed to serve current and former members of the United States Armed Forces. They offer a full range of financial products, including various types of insurance, banking and credit card services, loans, investments and much more.¹ Today, they have nearly 13 million members.²
Visa and American Express credit cards are available from USAA, along with debit cards for your checking accounts.³ They can be used nationally or internationally. However, when you travel abroad, using your credit or debit card can be expensive. Foreign transaction fees, service fees and other charges can make shopping abroad a lot more expensive than you might think.
Fortunately, USAA does not charge foreign transaction fees. But there are other fees, charges, and potential dangers you should be aware of.
In this guide, we'll discuss:
- USAA credit and debit card fees
- International ATM Fees for USAA
- Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)
- Tips and tricks for paying with your cards abroad
Knowing the charges you may face and how to avoid them will help you enjoy your travels without accruing additional costs.
USAA Debit Card Fees: What Do I Need to Know?
USAA offers debit cards for ATM withdrawals, as well as for purchases and other transactions associated with your checking accounts. Savings accounts come with an ATM card, but they cannot be used for transactions and are not considered a debit card. There are some restrictions and fees associated with using a USAA debit card, especially in an international context. Although, as mentioned above, there are no USAA international fees on the transactions themselves. Below we have summarized debit card fees for checking accounts. ⁴
|Rate type or charge||Current account debit card|
|Monthly service fees||$ 0|
|Minimum balance requirement||$ 0|
|ATM withdrawals outside the USAA||$2, first 10 are free|
|Non-USAA ATM fee refund||$15 per month (except Cashback Rewards Check; applies to US ATM transactions only)|
|Overseas withdrawal fees||1%|
|Foreign transaction fees||$ 0|
Keep reading for tips and tricks on how to control and reduce the possibility of incurring these charges when traveling abroad.
Currency Conversion with Your Bank: What About Fees?
USAA debit and credit cards also offer currency conversion services indirectly, allowing you to make ATM withdrawals in your local currency at ATMs around the world. Debit cards have a 1% foreign withdrawal fee associated with them, while credit cards do not. However, in both cases, actual conversion rates can play a significant role in the value you get from this service.
Online exchange rate information is usually reported in what is known as aaverage market rate🇧🇷 Searching for a rate on Google? It's the mid-market rate you'll see. This is the rate that banks and institutional investors can get when exchanging currencies. However, people are not so lucky. Banks providing currency conversion services typically charge the mid-market rate with a profit margin included as a kind of fee or service charge. Markup visibility is limited or non-existent, which can make it difficult for consumers to know if they are getting a good deal.
One option to avoid this uncertainty is to take advantage of foreign exchange services from companies that are dedicated exclusively to this market. For example,sensibleoffers aborderless forex account, which can store up to 40 different global currencies and allow seamless switching between these currencies. The tariff used is the market average, with a separate and clear service charge. You can also get Sagemulticurrency debit card, which you can use to pay for goods and services around the world. Also, opening an account is completely free, so it's worth a try. This can be a great alternative for overseas travelers to access local currency rather than relying on just one card.
Which USAA credit cards have foreign transaction fees?
In terms of USAA credit cards, none of them have foreign transaction fees. American Express and Visa cards are available to USAA members and can be used anywhere in the world where these cards are accepted. Cards are available with various features including cash rewards, rewards points cards, low interest rate cards and a special military membership card. All come with no annual fee and no penalty APR plus foreign transaction fees. In essence, this means that cardholders can use their cards outside of the United States with no additional fees.
The various fees, charges, and agreements associated with USAA credit cards are described below.⁵
|Rate type or charge||To evaluate|
|annual quota||$ 0|
|cash advance fee||up to 3% (does not apply when done electronically between USAA accounts)|
|Interest rate||9.15% to 28.15%, 10% for special accounts offered to non-commissioned officers|
|minimum interest rate||$ 0|
|late payment rate||Up to $35|
|returned payment fee||Up to $35|
|Limits fee||$ 0|
|Foreign transaction fees||$ 0|
When it comes to using your USAA credit card abroad, as mentioned, there are no foreign transaction fees. However, the rates at which your purchases are converted into US Dollars are governed by the credit card processor (Visa, American Express) or the merchant or its agent and not by USAA itself. This can leave you subject to lower exchange rates, similar to those employed by foreign ATM companies known as Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), which we will discuss in more detail later.
USAA International ATM Fees, A Closer Look
Let's take a closer look at the international ATM fees that USAA customers can expect to pay. This assumes you have a USAA checking or savings account and are using a non-US ATM that is not part of the USAA-owned network of 60,000 ATMs in the continental US.
Out of USAA's 60,000 ATMs in the US, customers can use any other ATM in the US and any ATM abroad.
- The network's 60,000 ATMs do not have any associated service fees.
- All other ATM transactions have a USAA service fee of $2 per transaction after 10 free transactions.
- USAA offers a refund of these fees of up to $15 per month, but only at non-USAA ATMs within the US. They do not refund fees for ATM transactions in foreign countries, nor for those with a USAA Cashback Rewards checking account.
- Debit card or ATM withdrawals are charged a 1% foreign transaction fee when made outside the US. This applies whether the withdrawal is made in local foreign currency or converted into US dollars.
Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)
As mentioned above,dynamic currency conversion(DCC) can come into play when you make a withdrawal from an ATM in a foreign country. While it might not sound exciting, it's definitely something you'll want to know. DCC can add significant additional costs to the exchange process. DCC will beat you up when choosing an ATM abroad to charge in your native currency. ATMs that advertise free currency exchange may not charge flat service fees, but use much less favorable rates. So it's better if youchoose to always be billed or billed in local currency, and not in your local currency.
Tips and tricks for using ATMs and paying by card abroad
Whether you have a credit or debit card, just an ATM card, or all of the above, there are some useful tips and tricks to keep in mind when traveling abroad. By learning the best ways to access funds while traveling, you can avoid excessive fees and surcharges. That way, things cost what you think they do and you can enjoy your trip without getting an unexpected surprise bill in the mail when you get home.
- Always use a card that does not have foreign transaction fees on your ATM withdrawals, such as those from USAA.
- Don't be fooled by "no exchange fees" at ATMs, as they will likely still charge more due to DCC.
- Research which ATM networks, if any, you can use for free when traveling abroad.
- Avoid ATMs in tourist or entertainment areas (bars, clubs, convenience stores) as they often have ATM-specific fees and surcharges compared to those associated with banks and financial institutions.
- Don't forget to activate "travel mode" or notify your bank that you are going to travel before travelling. This will ensure that your credit, debit and ATM cards are not declined due to being flagged for suspicious activity.
- Carry a second card as a backup in case something unexpected happens, like the card provider having technical difficulties.
- He prefers big serves. Don't make multiple small withdrawals as you will be charged fees each time, and some aren't percentage based, meaning you're paying more to access your own money.
By following these tips, you'll get the most out of your USAA checking, savings, or credit card account. The best part about all of this is that USAA does not charge foreign transaction fees, and even foreign ATM withdrawal fees are very competitive. If you still don't want to receive these fees, it's worth looking into alternatives such asborderless forex accountfrom tosensibleor even an old classic like travelers checks. There are many options you can choose from to maximize your value and minimize the cost of accessing your funds in foreign countries.
All sources last consulted March 11, 2019
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