I have always been borderline obsessed with money. It wasn’t until Sana and I got married that I realized money doesn’t bring happiness. Turns out the age old adage is age old for a reason. Don’t get me wrong, having good income makes life easier. Traveling with enough of a budget to afford the “Entire Home” option is much more comfortable than staying in hostels. But money alone won’t bring happiness. I have always done research into banking and credit cards. Which came in handy because having a bank account as flexible as our travel plans has definitely taken some stress. In this post, you’ll learn about the best credit cards and bank accounts for digital nomads. Of course the first thing to do is check your budget. But you can read more about that here.
Why we bank with Charles Schwab
One of the most important things to me when choosing a bank was having access to cash internationally without racking up huge ATM fees. A lot of the cities around the world are mostly cash only, so having access to it is pretty important. I don’t like to take out large amounts of cash in one shot just in case something were to happen. It might not seem like a lot, but after ATM and foreign exchange fees, you could be looking at $8-$15 USD per withdrawal. Multiply that by twice a week, and you’re spending $64 – $120 USD per month just to take out your own cash!
Many places in Europe and Asia cost less than $50 a night. So now you’re talking about two “free” nights per month. Which is equivalent to three “free” weeks per YEAR! That’s just by choosing a bank that reimburses you for ATM and foreign exchange fees. Charles Schwab offers both ATM reimbursement and foreign exchange fee reimbursements from any ATM, ANYWHERE! I’m a little sad I didn’t switch to them earlier in life, instead of always walking around in search of a Bank of America.
Chase Reserve: The Best Travel Card
I try to avoid using cash whenever possible. Instead, I pay with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The card gets 3 points for every $1 spent on dining and travel and 1 point per $1 on everything else. Life as a digital nomad involves a lot of travel and dining related expenses. So it is awesome being able to maximize those categories. The points are worth 1 cent each, which may not seem like much, but it adds up quickly.
There are several ways to redeem points, including cash back, but the best value comes from using the points on Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel site. Your points are worth 1.5x when you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards. I was a little skeptical at first. I thought Chase must be jacking up prices for travel to offset the crazy bonus they offer, but after a lot of research, I can say that’s not the case. Chase recently began using Expedia to power their Ultimate Rewards site, and the prices are still consistently some of the best I’ve found.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Sign Up Bonus
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is incredible for nomads. They offer a ton of other great benefits (including Global Entry reimbursement), but there is one big downside. THE PRICE!! The annual fee on this card is $450! But it’s a little misleading, because you get a $300 annual travel credit. So the net fee is $150, which is still steep, but it’s worth it if you travel a lot. Another big perk is the signup bonus of 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months. On the Chase Ultimate Rewards’ site, those points are worth $750!
A Charles Schwab account and the Chase Sapphire Reserve has been our go to for our financial needs. I think this combo of bank account and credit card is perfect for digital nomads. I hope it helps you in your journey too! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about Schwab, Chase, or any other card you’ve been wondering about.