I opened up a Charles Schwab account and they’re great so far, but before I left the US, I called Capital One 360 (formerly ING) to let them know I would be out of the country. Initially, I was just going to use my Schwab account and keep my 360 account as a backup.
However, when I spoke with the customer service rep, he told me they don’t charge an international transaction fee, there are no international ATM fees, and they cover any ATM fees that might be charged by foreign banks.
My mind was absolutely blown. I honestly didn’t believe him at first, but it’s true. Been taking out cash and the amount withdrawn is exactly the amount of the exchange rate and no international transaction fees on any purchases yet.
I would also like to say that they have the best customer service of almost any business I’ve ever interacted with. I’m not one to plug corporations, but my god these people are ridiculously easy to work with. I’ll call in, thinking I’m going to wait on hold forever, be transferred twice, and then just be told they can’t help me, but every time I’ve had an issue, the rep is always very knowledgable, extremely helpful, very polite, and always tells me about some great (free) feature they have that I didn’t know about.
On top of that, if you need to send a check for some reason to someone (or a business) in the US, you can send one for free by logging on to your account, typing in their name and address, and clicking send. Usually arrives in 2-3 business days.
As I mentioned, Capital One 360 used to be ING and they are run as a separate branch of Capital One, so they shouldn’t be confused with the account that Capital One offers (confusing, I know). I’ve heard some horror stories about Capital One, but I’m seriously a raving fan of Capital One 360 (if you can’t already tell).