ATM, Visa or Cash in Germany

Old Oct 13th, 2009, 05:00 AM
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ATM, Visa or Cash in Germany

I know this has been asked over and over but..................

We are traveling to Germany in November and are trying to save as much money as possible. It seems as if all my credit cards are 3% except Discover, 2%, which most places don't take in Europe. ATM's charge a fee from most banks here in the states it seems. Exchanging cash or travelers checks at a bank or post office there was how I did it while stationed there 20 years ago and seemed to get the best rate but ATM's were still new and I was to young for a credit card. Do banks give different exchange rates at the ATM versus going inside and exchanging money/travelers checks or is it the same rate. Or is there a fee for going inside versus the ATM? I know that banks are closed sometimes but I usually plan ahead and would go to the ATM if after hours and needed some quick cash.
davidwilliams4747 is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 05:08 AM
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Forget Traveler's Checks, nobody wants them.

Debit cards will give you the best rate at the machines. Some banks charge fees, some don't, depends on your bank/credit union.
daveesl is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 05:10 AM
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Even with foreign exchange fees on CC and ATM the rate is definitely better than exchanging cash.

Bank ATMs in Europe don't charge any ATM fees. There are two typse of fees you may get assessed.

1. Your bank may charge you a fee for using an ATM other than one of their own. These can rage from $0 to $1.5 to $5 for some US banks, so making numerous small $ withdrawals can add up. I have a credit union debit card linked to my checking account, and the CU doesn't charge any non-network ATM fee for the 1st 10 or so uses. I can use my BofA ATM/Debit card at any DeutscheBank ATM without any ATM fee from BofA.

2. Foreign exchange fee - this used to be 1%, but may now be as high as 3%. This is charged by the ATM network (Plus/Visa/etc).

But, even with these fees it's still cheaper than exchanging cash, even at the "no-fee" exchange booths. The devil is in the exchange rate they use.

Today's exchange rate is 1 Euro = $1.49 USD - that's the rate you'd get at an ATM today. You won't get the same rate at a currency exchange booth or bank teller - it cost them money to handle currency.

I use ATMs to get cash, and credit cards for larger purchases like hotels, restaurants, etc. On my last several trips to Europe the net cost of using ATM vs credit card was virtually indistinguishable.
J62 is online now  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 05:57 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
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Good info on ATMs. On the credit card issue, each has a different policy on charging a foreign transaction fee from 0% (Capital One) to 3% on Citibank. It pays to check. Since the car rentals like to put a hold on your credit card, we will use one card for that transaction (worst case 2% on $300) and use the Capital One card for charges.
Has anyone come across limits to the amount of cash you can withdraw at European ATMs?
chincoteague is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 06:03 AM
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Hi DW,

A: Forget traveler's checks and cash cards.
B: CapitalOne doesn't charge the 3% conversion fee.
B1. Amex charges 2%
C: Find a bank that doesn't charge $5 each time you use an ATM - credit unions are a good idea.
D: Use your CC whenever possible, and get cash about once a week.

Enjoy your visit.

BTW - Just how much will a 3% charge add to the overall cost of your trip?
ira is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 06:09 AM
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I've found that I'm limited to 250Euro/transaction at ATMs in Italy & Germany. Not sure if it's the ATM's limit or something imposed by my bank. My bank's daily limit is higher, so if I need more I just do a 2nd transaction at the same or nearby ATM.
J62 is online now  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 06:12 AM
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I have in Italy, chincoteague..usually around 250 euro inspite of the higher limit my bank allowed. But just use the ATM again or go to another ATM. Of course each time you will have your bank charges but at least you will get the cash you need.

And I would suggest only using ATM's at banks when the banks are opened for business. That way if you have a problem you can go inside the bank and hopefully get some help.

If possible it is good to have two different bank accounts which of course means you will have two different ATM cards. Good insurance in case there is a problem with one account and the ATM card. Have a 4 digit pin number and be aware, at least in Italy, that money can only be withdrawn from a checking account but not a saving's account. And do advise your banks that you will be in Europe so they do not put a freeze on your account thinking their is fraud involved. And have the phone number of your bank(s) that are not the 800 or other toll free number as those numbers will not work if you need to call from Europe.
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 06:31 AM
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German ATMs usually spit out up to 1000 € to German card holders so this limit must be set by your bank. However, we are limited to one transaction per day and card.
quokka is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 07:04 AM
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Do you belong to a credit union? they give the best rates. We use our credit union debit card and have paid less in transaction fees. We have not had any problems.
alan43 is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 07:06 AM
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I'm sorry but I forgot to state that we use ATM s exclusively with the debit card. Haven't been inside a bank in years overseas.
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Old Oct 13th, 2009, 08:06 AM
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Which bank do you use? If your ATM card is issued by Bank of America, you will not charged for ATM fees IF you use Deutsche Bank ATMs. Deutsche Bank is a partner of Bank of America.

But even if you have to pay ATM fee imposed by your own bank, it's still the most cost-effective way to get cash in Germany. Just don't go use the ATM 3x a day to take out 50 euro each time. Instead, get out a few hundred Euro each time so you only need to access the ATM a couple times during your stay.
yk is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 12:24 PM
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We just returned from Germany and used credit cards for all our hotels, gasoline and any where else that would take them. We found, however, that in the small towns we visited not many restaurants took credit cards.

So, we used our ATM card and withdrew a couple of hundred Euro at once since our bank charged a $3 "non Chase ATM fee" for each transaction. Our bank also charged a 4% "exchange rate adjustment" on the amount of each withdrawal. They did give us a good exchange rate but when you added all the fees, it wasn't so great.

Our credit card company also gave us a good rate when converting the Euro to Dollars but they charged fees as well. At least we get frequent flier points with the credit card.

You need to check with your bank and your credit card company to see what their specific charges are. On a 3 week trip, we took out 1000 Euro in 6 separate transactions. We paid under $20 in non Chase ATM fees but about $60+ in exchange rate adjustment fees. $80 spread out over 3 weeks isn't a killer but something to think about.
bettyk is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 12:49 PM
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Wow, bettyk, Chase is quite a rip-off!

We used our Bank of America ATM card several times in Germany, only using Deutsche Bank (partner bank) ATMs.

We were not charged any ATM fee.

The exchange rate we got from BoA was 1.469366. Per, the interbank rate that day was 1.46477. Therefore, we were only charged 1% above the interbank rate by BoA and nothing else.

Again, the above is using BoA ATM card to get cash.

The BoA CC is different. We used it once on our trip. The rate we got was 1.46126. Per, the interbank rate that day was 1.4645. So, again, we were charged an extra 1% by BoA CC; however, they added on another 1% foreign transaction fee to our bill. Therefore, using the BoA CC costs us 2%.
yk is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 01:00 PM
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Yes, yk, I wasn't really happy about the charges but it certainly wasn't a deal breaker. Our credit cards don't exactly give money away either. They charge 3% but it doesn't matter if the restaurant doesn't take credit cards then you have to use cash.

Chase's exchange rates were very good. We got the interbank rate and then they showed the adjustment amount separately so you could see exactly what you were being charged and how much.
bettyk is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 01:06 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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If you have a TD Bank in your area, they do not charge any fees. We have used them on two different trips, both times in Germany, with no fees charged.
Hope this helps, Andrea
schatzie8 is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2009, 03:14 PM
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Don't know what a TD Bank is, so we obviously don't have it here in Houston. Thanks, anyway.
bettyk is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2009, 04:55 AM
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I would like to thank everyone for their input!!!! It is always great to see that there are still people out there that will take the time to help someone in need.

We have decided to use our ATM/Credit Cards for the trip. I will post some pictures when we get back.
davidwilliams4747 is offline  
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