Guide to Making Payments During Your Stay Abroad

We must consider that in our guide of commissions by the bank we take into account 2 types of commissions: the one charged by banks to withdraw cash outside of your home country and the one charged to withdraw or pay in a currency other than the local currency. The first is usually a fixed commission, while the second is usually a percentage of the amount of money paid or withdrawn.


This variable figure can sometimes play a lot against us if we want to get little money because there are certain banks that charge a minimum commission for the currency exchange regardless of the money that is withdrawn.

In addition, in some cases, the bank that owns the local ATM from which it is withdrawn may charge fees that are independent of those of your bank. They are called “surcharge fee” or surcharge rates. In the latter case, when making the withdrawal of money, it is usually indicated which commission will be charged and the user can decide to cancel the operation if he is not happy.


Most banks allow you to pay with the card in the Eurozone countries for free, but once you leave these countries, the bank fees increase to 2% or 3%. Thus, on average, a purchase of € 100 will involve a commitment of €2 or €3 when paying with your card abroad.

Similarly, commissions when withdrawing abroad, whether in the Eurozone or in other countries, become quite high in many cases. On average, a withdrawal of €100 involves commissions of €4 or €5.


Here are some tips to mitigate how painful these fees can be by bank:

Pay with a bank card when possible: the variable commission per exchange rate is the same as when you take out cash, but this saves you the fixed commission for withdrawal.

Withdraw large amounts of cash to reduce the number of withdrawals: Taking out €200 at once is better than making 2 withdrawals of €100 and will allow you to save the 2-3 € fixed commission.
Although in many countries local ATMs charge commission to withdraw cash, there is almost always some way to avoid it. Find out in advance asking other travelers if there are banks that do not charge these commissions or other ways to get less expensive money. For example, in Thailand, it is possible to make withdrawals at the windows of some banks with your own card. It is what is known as a cash advance and thus you save the more than €5 that usually costs to withdraw at an ATM.

Travel with cash to change once at the destination – This will avoid some bank commissions, but you should be careful with pickpockets. One tip: keep large bills (€ 100, € 200, € 500) in a double bottom pocket or a belt that has a pocket enabled.

It is usually more expensive to pay and get money abroad with the credit card, so keep your debit card as an allied card.

If you are going to be abroad for a long time (you are going to make a trip around the world, you are an expatriate …), you have to consider that there are options both to extract and to pay and take money abroad with the card without paying anything.

More tips
Notify your bank of your travel plans, especially if you are traveling to a country where the currency is weak or little known. This will prevent you from automatically blocking your card for simply taking out money. For example, it may happen that they block your card for withdrawing just €100 at a cashier in the Philippines and it is inoperative for a whole weekend.

It is advisable that you have a second card and a cash reservation with you. This is very useful if you have a problem (stolen card, swallowed at an ATM, exceeded the withdrawal limit …) or simply pay at merchants that do not accept cards. Try to distribute that reservation in several places of your luggage or purses.

Alternatives with few commissions
If you travel frequently and are tired of bank commissions abroad, here is a list of alternatives that we add to our guide of bank commissions that may be interesting:

WeSwap Card: this is a prepaid card with which you can withdraw money abroad for free. The minimum withdrawal amount is €200, otherwise, there is a charge of €1.75. The key is that, when recharging, you indicate to which currencies you want to change your money. If you want to have that currency changed within a week, there is a 1% commission on the interbank exchange rate. If you do it for 3 days, you will be charged 1.3% and to obtain it immediately at 1.4%. It is an interesting option because, if you also get 5 friends to use WeSwap, they will not charge you anything for the exchange rate. In addition, you can control everything with a mobile application. However, consider that you can only use it for the 18 currencies indicated by WeSwap.

Revolut: like the previous one, this card also works with a mobile application. There is also no fee for paying and withdrawing money with the card abroad, but you can only get a maximum of €200 per month at ATMs. After exceeding this figure, 2% is charged on the amount withdrawn. If more than €6,000 are made on purchases, 0.5% is applied. Unlike WeSwap, you can use it with more than 120 currencies, but you will have to pay € 6 to receive the card. In addition, it is noted that for some more volatile currencies the interbank exchange rate will not be applied, so you should be aware of this.