ATMs typically offer the best way to get local currency when traveling overseas. Money exchangers at airports and hotels typically charge fees. Travelers checks are way too cumbersome and restricting in our experience. (Does anyone still use Traveler checks?). ATMs are the way to go, but if you don’t keep an eye on usage, the ATM fees can add up quickly, especially on extended trips.
However, we found a great card. The Charles Schwab Debit Card which is associated with the on-line Charles Schwab Bank. This card charges no international usage fees (which also can add up quickly) and NO ATM fees. In addition, they will also provide a rebate at the end of the month for any ATM charge with which any bank or ATM network hits you. This is a fantastic deal, and I think the only bank out there currently offering this deal.
BTW: There is also a great deal out there if you travel mostly in the States and the UK. Capitol One 360 Debit Card offers free ATM banking on a very large network mostly in the US.
We will roll with the CS debit card for picking up local currency along with a couple, additional credit cards for non-cash transactions (more on that later) and of course, a little of the universal currency, USD, because there are certain items like Visas where only USDs are accepted in some countries. So we don’t expect to pay any ATM fees during our trip!