I opened my Schwab Checking Account in 2007 and it’s the best banking experience I’ve had. I’ve told countless friends about it and in 2018, it’s still the best I know of. I also use or have used Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. I don’t get paid to rave about them, i’m just a fan. The more detail I know about these financial institutions, the more it makes me sick!
Why Schwab Checking is the best
Let me count the ways, literally. Basically it has a great list of features. All banks have some features and lacking is others, but Schwab has all the best ones.
1. NO ATM Fees Worldwide
Yes, I use any ATM worldwide for free and accept the ATM charges and Schwab reimburses me those fees at the end the month? I’ve used it at a strip club with $20 ATM fees, casinos with their outrageous fees, and Mexican tourist areas with their $10 fees. I’ve gotten reimbursed for all those fees!
Most people are unaware, but there are generally 2 ATM fees when you withdraw. The 1st fee is charged by your bank for not using their ATM machine. The 2nd fee is charged by the ATM machine’s bank! If you have a Chase account and withdraw from a Chase ATM, you’re all good and there is no fees, but if you try to withdraw from another bank, BAM, 2 fees (in general). Some bank advertise “no fees” on ANY ATM, but they don’t cover the 2nd fee charged by the ATM machine’s bank!
2. NO Foreign Transaction Fees
If you’re traveling and withdrawing money, most checking accounts will charge a 3% Foreign Transaction Fee. Which means that without Schwab, if you withdraw $1000, you would pay $30 + some $5 ATM fee. You would have just saved $35 with Schwab. Right now i’ve been living abroad for the last 9 months and this card is my lifeline to my money without fees. I live in Manila and withdraw in the local currency Pesos here all the time without fees.
The foreign transaction fee is one thing, but you also have to get a favorable currency conversion rate. If USD to PHP is 1:50 according to google, you need to make sure you’re getting a conversion rate close to this. A lot of currency exchange businesses advertise “no fee”, but they give you a shitty rate like 1:40 which would be equivalent of charging you a 20% fee. They just disguise it as the rate rather than a fee. Complete BS!! That makes me so angry! Anyway I mention this because Schwab does give you a very fair rate on top of no fees. I’ve personally measured it when making withdrawals from my account. Thank you Schwab!
3. No Balance Minimum, but you do need to open a Schwab Brokerage account
Since 2007, there have definitely been times, where my checking account was pretty bare. From 2005-2009 I was living paycheck to paycheck or with no paycheck >_<. In 2010 I withdrew a chunk of change to lend to my sister. In 2012 I withdrew everything to purchase my condo. No minimum balance to worry about. My girlfriend just got slapped by last month by Chase for dipping under $1500.
So you do need to open a Brokerage account. This is the whole reason why Schwab is giving you an awesome Checking Account. The good news is there is no fees or minimum balance requirements on the Brokerage Account as well! Like I said I opened my account back in 2007 and it was the first brokerage account I used. Since then I have played with others, and Schwab is my go to account for stock trading. The website is great and the IOS app is fantastic. That’s coming from a web developer that really analyzes these things. I would say use the brokerage account if you don’t have one, otherwise just open it just to get the Checking Account.
That’s enough to be the best
Those 3 features alone, would already make it the best in my experience. I have seriously saved tons of money traveling and withdrawing from any old ATM. Ahhhh, look at those savings 😀
Other good features not as important:
- Decent interest rate for a checking account. I wouldn’t keep a lot of cash in the account, but it’s kinda nice i guess
- FDIC insured. Who isn’t though?
- Free Checks. Why bother…
- Great IOS App. And I mean it!
Just get it!
Go to Schwab Checking Account to get started.
If you plan to use the brokerage account and deposit $1000, I you should go here for a $100 bonus.
I don’t get paid for any of this. If i figure out how to, I will eventually.
For the really nitpicky people, here’s some downside.
- No bank branches. So if you’re old and you like going into the branch or you need something obscure like a Cashier’s check, then I don’t know how to go about that. I have another bank for these things, but I’m sure you can call and they’ll ship it to you or something. Hell, they’re shipping me a new debit card internationally even. 😁
- There are brokerage trade fees. If you plan to do a lot of trading, you may want to try something like Robinhood which is supposedly fee-free trading. I’ve used it and it does appear fee-free but i didn’t much like their interface.
- Probably a modicum more difficult to sign up. Since you can’t just stroll into a branch and have the reps there do it all for you.
That’s really about it, just get it. It’s one of the few no brainer money tips with virtually no downside.