Chase debit card foreign transaction fee — the essential guide

TransferWise content team
03.12.19
5 minute read

Chase Bank is based in Manhattan and is one of the “Big Four” banks in the United States. Chase is part of JPMorgan Chase & Co., which operates in over 100 countries around the globe.¹ Chase Bank has more than 5,000 branches, as well as a network of around 16,000 ATMs.² They offer a full range of services, ranging from checking accounts and mortgages to credit and debit cards. These include some products that are designed for people traveling outside the US, providing various benefits such as rewards points.

In this article, you’ll read about what having a Chase debit card will mean for you as an international traveler. Topics we’ll cover include:

  • When and how much you’ll pay for foreign currency transactions
  • The exchange rate you’ll get when using your card to pay or withdraw cash abroad
  • Some of the special features you’ll get with Chase cards
  • Explaining how you can keep your payments as low as possible

We’ll help you think about your needs and what will best fit them, including an exciting new option that doesn’t work like a conventional bank account: the TransferWise borderless account. There’s more about this later on.

Chase debit cards foreign transaction fees — the basics

As you’d expect with most cards, there are fees to pay for some services with Chase debit cards. These vary according to exactly which card you pick, but one that you’ll see a lot is the foreign transaction fee. You’ll get hit by this if you use your card to get cash from an overseas ATM or to make a purchase from a foreign seller. The ATM situation is the most likely to affect you, since the fees can really pile up if you make a bunch of withdrawals.

The Chase debit cards that they show on their website charge a fee of 3% on every transaction you make in a currency that isn’t US dollars. That covers ATM withdrawals, cash transactions away from ATMs, and purchases you make with your card.

How to avoid this pesky fee? One way could be by signing up for the in-demand TransferWise multi-currency debit card, the waitlist is now open. You won’t only escape the foreign transaction fee, but also receive the desirable mid-market rate on all conversions.

Another amazing feature is the TransferWise borderless account itself, where you’re able to get local bank details in the UK, Eurozone, Australia and New Zealand to pay and get paid like a local. Incredible convenience for both travellers and digital nomads.

What other fees and features do I need to know about?

Foreign transaction fees aren’t the only things to think about when looking at debit cards from Chase. We couldn’t find a large range of debit cards on the bank’s website, but we’ve put together a summary of a few cards you may want to use while you’re traveling, together with some of their key features and fees.

Card name Key features Monthly fee Other key fees and restrictions
Liquid⁴ Prepaid card $4.95 monthly, waived if card is linked to a qualifying Chase account $2.50 non-Chase or international ATM withdrawal or balance inquiry
Debit cards linked to the Total Checking account⁵ Optional Debit Card Coverage for short-term approval of overdrawn purchases $12 monthly, but fee can be waived if certain account conditions are met $2.50 for overseas ATM balance inquiry/transfer, $5 for overseas ATM withdrawal
Disney Visa⁶ A debit card offering discounts at many Disney locations and on merchandise Depends on the account fee, to which it’s linked to Not available with Chase High School Checking or Chase Access Checking accounts

What about the exchange rates?

When you’re using your card abroad, either to buy stuff or to withdraw money from an ATM, there are two main things that can make a difference to the deal you get. One is that your card provider can charge a fee upfront, but the other is the exchange rate you’re given. You may not think about this at the time, but you’ll notice the difference when you see your statement later on.

Luckily you can get ahead of the curve. The first thing you’ll need to know is the mid-market rate. This is what banks will use when they’re doing transactions between themselves, and it’s the number you’ll see if you use a site like Google to look up rates. Unfortunately, it’s often not the rate you’ll be offered abroad. That’s because the ATM operator or card company will likely add a markup — it’s rarely called a fee, but it has the same effect.

That doesn’t sound great, we know. So, you may want to think about another way. With a TransferWise borderless account, you can seamlessly transfer funds in over 40 currencies using a single account. The only fee you’ll pay is the one you’ll see clearly stated on the site. That’s it. And it uses the mid-market rate, so there’ll be no extra markups, either. If this sounds like what you’ve been waiting for, go ahead and try it today.

Watch out for Dynamic Currency Conversion

If you travel abroad and use your debit card, you’ll want to make your money go as far as possible, which means getting the best exchange rate. The trouble is, Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) can get in the way of that.

Here’s the scoop. When you use your card to withdraw cash at an overseas ATM, or to make a purchase, you’ll often get the choice to use either the local currency or your own. You might think using your own would be the right choice and you’ll often see DCC advertised as a great, convenient solution. But there’s a pretty big catch.

Why? Because when you choose DCC, the exchange rate used to convert between the local currency and dollars is picked by the seller or ATM company. It often doesn’t end there, as there can often be extra fees on top. In the end, you could pay a lot more than you’d think from the Visa or Mastercard rate.

So, always choose to use the local currency. You could save a lot. If you want to find out about DCC in more detail, you can check out our handy guide.

Chase’s range of debit cards might be considered limited by some, but they do have offers that may be very attractive for some users. The Disney-branded card offers discounts on Disney products that could suit people who make a lot of purchases, though it does have a monthly fee. The Total Checking debit card will hit also you with a fairly hefty monthly fee, as well as charging you every time you use an ATM outside the Chase network.

There’s also the little matter of exchange rates, and if you’re interested in getting the mid-market rate when you’re abroad then you may want to take a look at whether a TransferWise borderless account would be right for you.

Whatever your situation, it’s always a good idea to stop and think about what different debit cards will offer you, and comparing plenty before you sign up.. Everyone’s needs are different, so a card that’s perfect for one person may not be so great for someone else. If you like the convenience of using a debit card while you travel outside the US, pay special attention to the fees that are charged for foreign transactions or using overseas ATMs.


Sources:

  1. https://www.jpmorgan.com/global/about
  2. https://www.chase.com/digital/resources/about-chase
  3. https://www.chase.com/content/dam/chasecom/en/checking/documents/clear_simple_guide_total.pdf#chase87351_7_csg_total_checking_1118_ADA_v1.indd%3Aother%20ATM%20and%20Debit%20Card%20Fees.%3A316
  4. https://www.chase.com/content/dam/chasecom/en/debit-reloadable-cards/documents/chase_liquid_terms_conditions.pdf#chase87351_2_ligagr_1118_ADA_v3.indd%3ASummary%20of%20Fees%201%3A3267
  5. https://www.chase.com/content/dam/chasecom/en/checking/documents/clear_simple_guide_total.pdf#chase87351_7_csg_total_checking_1118_ADA_v1.indd%3ASome%20Other%20Fees%3A315
  6. https://www.chase.com/personal/debit-reloadable-cards/disney-debit

All sources last checked on 12 March 2019


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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