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ATM cards for European cash withdrawal and bank fees

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I've read several threads on Fodor's about transaction fees and exchange rate markups on credit card and debit card usage abroad which caused me to inquire more closely into my own situation and I thought I would pass along what I learned.

I was most concerned about ATM withdrawals and thought it would be most logical to look at my bank statements from my last trip to Europe and see what fees were disclosed. There were none but I called the number on the back of the card anyway and was told that fees were set by the bank not by the processor. Okay, I made a trip to the bank and was told that there was a 3% fee and that it was aggregated into the withdrawal amount but there was no up charge on the exchange rate. I wasn't terribly pleased about the undisclosed transaction fee so when I talked to my broker, Fidelity Investments, I asked if they had ATM cards or what they called cash cards and what he told me was almost too good to be true. First, there are no fees and by that I mean absolutely no transaction costs whether a percentage or a flat rate. Nor is there an up charge on the exchange rate. Also, Fidelity pays the foreign ATM fees so it is truly a costless transaction. After verifying several times that I completely understood what I was being told, I said okay how do I apply? Thinking there would be the usual lengthy application form I was again much surprised that all one does is check one box on the account page and voila you're done.

I will add parenthetically that I had to make a deposit in Euros to a French bank and Fidelity also handled that for me at no cost.

I am sure some of you are Fidelity customers and many are not but I would assume it's a competitive world and what Fidelity does is likely to be a policy at other like firms. Hopefully, this quick and easy solution to retrieving cash overseas will be beneficial to some of you.

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