Charles Schwab $100 Checking Bonus – Why I Have Two Accounts for My Travels

I see via Doctor of Credit that the Charles Schwab $100 bonus for a new customer sign-up, which includes checking. If you have other Schwab accounts you won’t get the bonus.

Schwab 100You can sign-up here (note: the page says you were referred, this is a generic Schwab link that neither myself or as far as I know anyone will receive any referral commission. Schwab’s style of refer-a-friend is out of the goodness of your heart.)

Why do travelers love Charles Schwab Checking?

  • No account fees or minimums
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Unlimited ATM rebates
  • Sensible fraud prevention, meaning not crazy blocking ATM withdrawals in every new country and generally not needing to provide advance travel notification
  • Good customer service, such as when an ATM in Cape Verde failed to dispense money but debited my account
  • etc, etc, etc lots of customer-friendly features

I have two of these checking accounts. Why?

  • I have one that is my main checking account. This one I do not use overseas except in emergency, such as a lost card or ATM chewing my card. One time I left my card in a Chinese ATM and it was properly swallowed for security. Rather than waiting till the next business day (it was a national holiday weekend), I had a backup card ready.
  • I have a second one for travel that I move a few hundred in at a time for ATM withdrawals. If the card is hacked or cloned, the amount involved is small. Regardless of Schwab’s great customer service in resolving issues, I want to keep the stakes as small as possible. Having the accounts both with Schwab means I can instantly move the money account to account.

Update: Howie in the comments says “Here is the full application PDF…Under Section 4, if you select “No, do not add margin.” you should not have any credit inquiry.”

An application otherwise involves a hard credit inquiry, similar to credit cards, so if you are going to get multiple accounts, do them together and hopefully the inquiries will combine.

I have dabbled with other bank account for travel and have not found any that beat Schwab.

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  • Howie

    Here is the full application PDF ( … Under Section 4, if you select “No, do not add margin.” you should not have any credit inquiry.

  • @Howie – awesome tip, I am adding that in the post.

  • @Howie that is amazing. The inquiry was what was holding me back from applying for the card.

  • ken

    So can one open up the account WITHOUT the margin account and thus NO hard inquiry and still get the $100? In-branch only then?

  • ken

    Schwab chat rep indicates a hard pull no matter if one requests margin or not:

    7:24:22 PM : Christopher O.: We do use information from credit reporting agencies and other sources to determine if we can open an account for someone. This does often in a “hard credit check”.

    7:24:58 PM : Christopher O.: If you do not currently have a Schwab Bank account there will be a hard credit check.

    7:26:00 PM : ken: the word “often” seems to imply that you are not sure. Are you 100% sure that a hard pull on the credit report will result EVEN IF no margin account is requested?

    7:26:20 PM : ken: if you are not sure, that’s ok, looking for absolutely certainty

    7:26:33 PM : Christopher O.: I am 100% sure. If you do not currently have a Schwab Bank account there will be a hard credit check.

    7:26:50 PM : ken: again, EVEN IF no margin account is requested?

    7:26:50 PM : Christopher O.: The only time we might not is if you currently have a Schwab Bank account.

    7:27:03 PM : Christopher O.: Yes, even if you don’t have margin.

    7:27:07 PM : ken: ok thx

  • @ken – chat reps not always the most reliable unless they are the one pulling your report, hard to say unless you try, if just doing it for the $100 not worth it, if doing it for travel, more than worth it for me.

  • r hirsch

    any final verdict as to if there is a hard pull or not. it seems to go back and forth accdg to the above comments!

  • Ken

    Stefan, agree on all your points, but thought it worthwhile to add a data point. I’ll be signing up for it in any case.

  • @Ken – I appreciate you hunting this down, let me know how it goes.

  • @r hirsch – you might look around forums like Dan’s Deals and Slick Deals for more reports. I am a bit limited on internet here in Tuvalu.

  • Howie

    @Ken thanks for providing the feedback. I’m going based on my experience — and I wish I could remember where I read the recommendation to specifically not select margin as I had the same concern. I was debating between this account and Fidelity and when I was told about selecting “no margin” I went with this and there was no pull.

  • Howie

    @Ken the only relationship I had with Schwab at that point is I was listed as a beneficiary on an account that my wife had with her employer. There were no accounts open in my name.

  • ken

    @Howie, did you print out the PDF and open in-branch then? Or were you able to select “no margin” online?

  • Audrey

    So in order to open a checking account it’s necessary to open a brokerage account also, correct?

  • @Audrey – yes.

  • Chris

    Howie is incorrect. Selecting NO for the margin option will still result in a hard credit pull.