question about using USAA debit card overseas. specifically Aviano, AB Italy

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Contributor

Hello.  I have never been overseas or been stationed overseas but a few months we will be moving to Italy.  Can we use our debit card in Italy to make purchases just as we do here in the states or will we have to use an ATM to get cash thats converted?  Thanks for any information!

14 REPLIES

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Callejas,

Thanks for your question. I think it would be good for you to give USAA member services a call so that they can walk you through everything as well as make sure that you have all of the updates made that need to be. Could you please reach out to them at 1-800-531-8722 or click here to provide us with additional detail and your member information.

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thanks, I'll give them a call.  I just was wondering what needed to be done on my part. 

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Callejas,

They'll be able to tell/assist you. 


Thanks!

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Hi. I live in germany presently and traveled around Europe. It depends on the stores. Normally the bigger stores will accept the MasterCard debit and/or credit card. The mom/pop shops normally take cash only.the Europeans banking system is also on a chip system for cards. On base we have 2 banks which we use to pay all of our off base bills, rent and travel money. Hope this helps.
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This area is talking about using the USAA Debit Card, NOT Credit Card, overseas.

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BLUF: USAA is the only card I have that I rarely use overseas.   I haven't used my USAA credit card in about 3 years.  it's only good for withdrawling cash from the ATM.  Their cards that just recently caught up to the times and have chips that may be useful for day to day purchases in Germany, but they do not equate to the big banks that offer no foreign transaction fees such as Chase Saphire Prefered or Amex Platinum.  Both of which you can get for free after submitting overseas orders.  With all of their customers deployed worldwide, why would they still have a 1% foreign transaction fee on their cards?  Most of my soldiers I tell this to, have no idea what that is.  They just go with the flow like it's normal, but it's not. USAA is a great bank for a lot of things, but I don't believe so for their credit cards.

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Thanks Mr. Smith for the straight scoop.

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Mr. Smith is absolutely correct.  I have not used my USAA credit cards either overseas or stateside since I obtained a Chase Bank Army MWR credit card in 2011.  Chase does NOT charge the international transaction / foreign exchange fee; USAA WILL charge you 1%.

 

I prefer to keep everything "in house" at USAA but when it comes to USAA's credit cards - especially overseas - there are better options elsewhere.

 

Hint:  Service Credit Union offers a chip/pin Euro debit card that I use extensively in Germany in stores that do not accept credit cards of any type.

 

It's too bad that USAA, with such a large number of members who live/serve overseas, hasn't matched either Chase or Service Credit Union.

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I travel a lot and so am quite familiar with foreign transaction fees. I have found with some experimentation that the USAA 1% fee may not be as bad as you think. Example: My Schwab debit card has no fee. I have withdrawn money from a French ATM machine using my Schwab card and my USAA card within a few seconds of each other. The actual US$ amount is almost identical with both cards. I can't explain this. If you go to an currency exchange office at an airport, you'll see the wide disparity between buy & sell rates. Maybe USAA is offering closer to the official bank exchange rate and Schwab offers a slightly lower rate. I have not tried making identical purchases with the USAA debit card and my Capitol One credit card, which has no foreign transaction fee. Another comparison might be with American Express. They recently dropped their foreign transaction fee.