Access Checking Accounts When Traveling

Three ways to get bank account access when traveling locally or abroad

Whether traveling around the United States or enjoying an excursion abroad, you're probably going to need to access your checking account at some point. Luckily, banking while traveling is easier than ever:

  • Paying with a debit card can be a great choice since it provides a record of your purchases, consumer protections and warranty extensions that you won't get when you pay with cash. Plus, you'll get better exchange rates when traveling abroad. (If you pay with cash, merchants tend to use a rough estimate of the exchange rate, meaning you could pay more than is necessary. When you pay with your card, the card issuer will use the exact exchange rate available that day.)
  • You can also visit ATMs almost anywhere in the world to withdraw funds, though withdrawing money abroad can carry extra charges.
  • If you need to pay bills or manage other finances, online and mobile banking options will let you do that with just an internet connection. Be advised, international data rates may apply. Check with your wireless provider to learn more.

1. Bring debit card to reduce foreign currency fees and avoid carrying cash

When traveling abroad, consider using a debit card, which can get you better exchange rates. You will most likely see foreign transaction fees, which range from one to three percent of the purchase price, but it may be cheaper than purchasing currency. Plus, if you don't want to carry a lot of cash around with you, purchasing currency may not be the best option for you. Debit cards will protect you against fraudulent purchases or lost or stolen cards. Consider bringing more than one card and leaving one locked in the hotel in case of an emergency.

2. Access ATMs for banking while traveling

You can still use ATMs for your banking needs while traveling abroad. However, most foreign ATMs will have a fee to exchange currency as well as a foreign ATM fee. Consider withdrawing larger amounts at a time so you aren't consistently paying these fees. It's worth noting that even though ATMs have fees, they are generally cheaper than exchanging currency.

3. Keep track of your checking account online when you travel

With online and mobile banking, you can access your checking account when traveling to transfer funds, check balances or pay bills. All you need is internet access. To be sure you don't miss bills and payments that are due while you're away, sign up for automatic payments before you leave. If you have rent or other expenses that you can't handle online, ask your payees if you can pay in advance.

Budget for your trip and plan out bank account access

Every trip should start out with a solid budget. Setting spending limits ahead of time will help ensure you don't blow your life savings on souvenirs. When plotting out your budget, pad your estimates a little so you'll be able to account for extra expenses in case of an emergency.

  • Look up the cost of transportation, ranging from the cost of gas, a rental car, train tickets, airfare or passage aboard a ship or ferry.
  • Map out where you will stay, whether it's in affordable hotels, moderately priced hotels or top-notch resorts.
  • Use travel guides to get a sense of food costs, and decide what you are willing to spend. If you have the means to cook in your accommodations, that can help lower your budget.

Before you leave, check the balance of your checking account online and the limits of your credit cards. Map out cities that have your bank's ATMs or branches so you will have bank account access along the way.

Talk to Citizens Bank for help planning bank account access when you're traveling

Take advantage of mobile banking to access your checking account online during your vacation to make sure you stay current with balances and payments. To speak to a customer service representative, please call 1-800-922-9999. For more information regarding opening a new Citizens Bank checking account, please call 1-877-360-2472 or apply for a checking account online.