ATM Withdrawls blocked?

Feb 28th, 2008, 09:15 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 5
ATM Withdrawls blocked?

I am planning a two week trip to Barcelona and southern Spain in July. I am going with a my daughter and another friend. I asked about ATM fees and daily limits at my bank (where I am an employee) and was told that all ATM withdrawals from Spain are currently blocked.

Has anyone had any experience with this? What are suggested alternatives? I plan to have enough euros to pay for the apartment and get us by for the first day or so but hesitate to carry enough cash to sustain us throughout the trip. We will use credit cards whenever that is possible.

I've appreciated the good information found on this forum for planning this trip and for our Safari last year.
dandyj is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 09:17 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 77,663
how about calling other banks in your area and saying you have their ATM card and see what they say about this

sounds hard to believe
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 09:18 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,188
I would get a bank account at another bank. What sort of bank blocks all of Spain? Even if you are an employee, it would still be worth it to get an account for this purpose.

Also look into doing cash withdrawals on your credit card. If you do this, check the interest charges that you will face. You may be able to circumvent these by paying a credit on your credit card ahead of time, but this does not work with all credit cards.
WillTravel is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 09:24 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,420
Did they give you a reason?

Since "finding a new bank" probably isn't realistic if you work there (I think most banks require their employees to bank with them) I would look into a Travel Card with Visa. (AAA sells one) Put your cash on that and use it as a debit card!

(And tell the idiots you work for that most people would just change banks in this case!)
CarolA is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 09:31 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 36,585
Ouch, are you aware that those AAA Visa cash cards charge you 7% for every foreign purchase or withdrawal in addition to other fees?

But there seems to be something very wrong with that "all Spanish atm's being blocked" story!
NeoPatrick is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 09:57 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 447
@NeoPatrick
But there seems to be something very wrong with that "all Spanish atm's being blocked" story!

Actually, this may not be completely bogus. One of my banks (a credit union) blocks ATM transactions from Pakistan, Romania, and the Ukraine along with various debit and credit card transactions from other countries. However, they are nice enough to make it easy to find such info on their website. (If you're interested, it's at https://www.msufcu.org/p_blockedcards.html?mnuccid=66)

Paul
sanschag is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 10:13 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 36,585
That's a credit union, not a bank (there is a difference between the two). And I'm not denying that even some banks might block ATM withdrawals anywhere they want to. But like others, I'd be quick to find a new bank -- one that knows how to offer foreign ATM withdrawal service, especially in countries like Spain!
NeoPatrick is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 10:24 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,699
She doesn't have to close down the acct from the bank where she works but I would simply open another acct somewhere and use it strictly for your trip.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 10:46 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Some years ago I and all clients of Morgan Stanley received a letter advising that for the time being all their ATM cards were blocked in Italy due to a high amount of fraud. The letter also said all their ATM cards were no longer valid. I assumed they meant they could not be used anywhere. I was so glad I was not in Italy at the time! Later I received a new ATM card from them with a new card number. When I talked to my broker he said if that ever happened while on a trip he would have money transferred from my MS account to the checking account at my local bank where of course I also have an ATM card. I always carry two ATM cards with me, one for each account.
Anyway, maybe the situation with your bank is due to a high rate of frauds in Spain dandyj. It seems that your bank should explain the situation to you I would think.
LoveItaly is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 10:54 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 77,663
this all means that everyone should contact their local ATM-issuing bank prior to their trips to make sure the card will work

so you won't be up ATM creek without a paddle
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 10:58 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,420
"Ouch, are you aware that those AAA Visa cash cards charge you 7% for every foreign purchase or withdrawal in addition to other fees? "


Yes, BUT I think this is still better then doing a cash advance on a credit card where the 18% interest on cash advances starts ticking the moment you take the cash.

However, I just realized the OP is not going until July. At this point I would open a second bank account. You have time to get a debit card from your local credit union etc. since it appears there's a high risk your bank could do this "idiot" move again!
CarolA is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 11:01 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,188
18% annually is not so bad if you pay it immediately. I think then you would get a one month charge at 18% annually, which would mean a 1.5% charge. Definitely better than 7%.
WillTravel is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 11:05 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
This all sounds rather suspicious and highly unlikely.

We travel to Spain quite often and have never experienced the ATMs being blocked. What does happen is that an individual ATM account is blocked if the bank is unaware you are going to be using it while traveling to a particular country. The same think applies to your credit cards.

Blocking an account happens most often if you do not have a history of making withdrawals in a foreign country and have not notified your bank that you will be using the card while traveling.

The only thing we’ve encountered lately is that the Bank of Santander appears to be using the DCC (Dynamic Currency Conversion) system in its ATMs, so you may want to keep away from their ATMs.
Robert2533 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 11:11 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,503
I have used my ATM card in Spain, but it's a small regional bank. However, I do remember some prior posts on here detailing this problem, and I don't think it is a bogus, I think it is real. There are some companies or banks or something who were blocking ATM withdrawals in Spain, I think. If her bank told her that, I would believe them. It has something to do with a lot of fraudulent ATM withdrawals from Spain.


If the apt. is paid for and CCs are used a lot, you really shouldn't need tons of cash. You'd have to check the CC cash withdrawal fees, but I think they'd be worse than even using travelers checks. CCs usually charge large flat percentage fees for cash withdrawals on top of the interest rate, which begins from withdrawal (it's not like a purchase, that you won't owe it if you pay the bill on time). They are usually 3-7 pct fee on top of the interest. I suppose it could be better than some alternatives, though.
Christina is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 11:14 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,420
WillTravel,
The other thing to remember is that MOST cards charge you a fee to do the cash advance of between 2 and 4% so...

Plus I would not be at all surprised if they don't put the 3% currency conversion fee on cash advances.

If they do that then the fees are pretty close to the Visa's and you still get the interest charges.

(I am not sure since I haven't done a cash advance since I had a brain dump in Paris umpteen years ago and couldn't remember my pin number for my ATM card LOL!)

I would still look into a second account if you have time, but if a bank springs this on you at the last minute.....

Another thing to remember is that if you have a balance on the account amounts you pay are generally applied by the CC company to the "lowest" rates first. So if your purchase interest rate is 14% and your cash advance is 18% then they put your cash payments towards the 14% allowing them to "make more money" LOL!
CarolA is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 11:19 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 5

I will check with other banks in my area. My 'people' did say that it was because of the high incidence of fraud and that the countries blocked change from day to day. Maybe I am too loyal, but I have worked here 20 years and customer service is our middle name. We usually go overboard in trying to accomodate customers, even employees. So I think there must be something to this.


Nevertheless, opening an account at another bank would not be a problem.

It is my understanding that fees for advances on credit cards and other types of debit cards do indeed run high. That is what we are trying to avoid. Rather spend the money on a good meal.

Should I consider falling back on the old faithful traveler's checks? Of course, that involves fees and possibly unfavorable exchange rates too.

This trip is getting pricier by the day but I am too old to postphone until exchange rates improve and Spain is the destination of choice for my much younger travel mates.
dandyj is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 11:28 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,268
Robert2533: "The only thing we’ve encountered lately is that the Bank of Santander appears to be using the DCC (Dynamic Currency Conversion) system in its ATMs, "

That seems unlikely. The Spanish Bank is only dealing in €. You insert the card, request € and the machine spits out the money. No conversion or DCC involved - ask for €, get €. The conversion to $ is done once the withdrawal is presented to your own bank to be debited from your account.
janisj is online now  
Feb 28th, 2008, 11:35 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,188
It's highly unlikely you will do better financially with travellers' cheques. They're also a pain to cash.
WillTravel is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 12:34 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 4,060
Dandyi - may I ask which bank has this block on Spanish ATM's? I am going in May and will need to withdraw E's upon arrival for the apartment rental - I do plan to call my bank ahead of time but just wondering which bank it is that is blocking withdrawals at this time.

Yes the trip is getting pricier everyday but there is no guarantee it will be cheaper in the future. I do think Spain is cheaper than some of the countries (at least for food and wine). So go, enjoy! We never know what may or may not be possible in the future. My motto - the only trips I regret are the ones I did not take!
suec1 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 01:30 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,000

mark
hopscotch is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:19 PM.