I am looking into all aspects of my trip, and this one is coming up. My current bank (cheap ol Wells Fargo) charges a whopping $5 per ATM withdrawal and a 3% currency conversion fee.
Does anyone have some input as to what the best bank to use is? I don't want to be paying $200 over the course of my trip JUST to access my money.
Citibank is pretty good for this, if you use a Citibank ATM abroad the withdrawal from your US account is completely free. You can find a list of all Citibank branches online at their website.
I've always liked the small banks. They might not have many branches or ATM's at home, but they give service beyond the required minimums. I assume you're in California if you're on WF? I've been through all the big banks there myself, and now that I'm in Oregon I have my choice of several local institutions. Go with a little guy. Debit cards work regardless of where you get them. Be sure to notify your bank and credit card before your trip of your general itinerary - VERY IMPORTANT!
HSBC seem to be pretty good too.
I use Bank of America, and they have ATMs you can use in certain countries for free
(from BOA website):
Use your ATM card or Check Card within our Global ATM Alliance in the countries shown with no fees.
Barclays (United Kingdom)
BNP Paribas (France)
China Construction Bank (China)
Deutsche Bank (Germany)
Santander Serfin (Mexico)
Westpac (Australia and
Moderator comment: Looking at laoutlaw's other posts, I believe the above information was taken from the Bank of America website and meant to be just that, informational rather than promotional.
[ Edit: Moderator comment added. ]
Personally I would look into a credit union. Obviously they are local, but they generally have less charges both nationally and internationally. Also when you are going to get money look for a credit union if there's one nearby as they often don't charge for using their ATMs even if you are not a member. You may still have to pay your own banks fee, but at least you won't be paying two fees.