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BoA ATM Global Alliance

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OK - we are headed to Scotland and are trying to get our money plans in order before we leave. All purchases will be on a low to no FTF fee credit card in Pounds Sterling (and avoid DCC). That piece we are ok with. For getting cash, we understand the best way is at an ATM. We currently bank with Bank Of America and understand if we use Barclay's ATMs in the UK it is suppose to be fee-free. Sounds great!

However, the question we have is how do they handle the conversion from pounds back to USD?. Pounds out the ATM needs to be converted to USDs somewhere. Is it done via the 'interbank rate' used by Visa plus Visa’s 1% (BOA issues a Visa ATM/Debit Card), . . . or does BoA use an ‘in-house’ rate that could be inflated? I've found conflicting data on this subject and would like to know exactly how it is done in advance.

Also, Barclay’s have ‘Woolwich’ branches. Does anyone know if ‘Woolwich’ ATMs are part of the global alliance? From what I’ve found – I think they are – but again would like to know in advance.

As a side note: the other alternative for cash for us would be the use of a credit card we found through a local CU which does NOT have a cash advance fee and an very low Cash Advance interest rate (7.9%). I know most say don’t go this route – but, without the 3% cash advance fee and no FTF fee from the bank (other than the 1% at Visa), this sounds like a viable option if BoA uses an inflated conversion rate. Anyway – any comments on this approach would also be appreciated?

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