ATM woes:(

Mar 19th, 2002, 06:19 PM
  #1  
bryan
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ATM woes:(

Hey gang,

I have read many posts about this and it's getting close to my departure date (May 2). I have decided to use the ATM machine for cash withdrawls; however, it seems to me that this can get expensive and could defect the purpose of getting a good exchange rate. Here's my problem

(1)I have a Washington Mutual VISA debit card. I called them and they said that they charge $3.00 + whatever the ATM machine charges (rep said $3.00-$10.00)

(2) I also have a debit MASTERCARD (from an online brokerage account) and they said they charg $0.75 + whatever the ATM machine charges in that country. I am skeptical of this info. on this card because it took me 4 reps to get the answer I got now--no one knew they policy well 'cause I got transfered from one rep to another.

So, does this sound right?

Does anyone know of a bank that has $0.00 or as little a charge as possible. I can still open a new account before I leave.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Bryan
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 07:45 PM
  #2  
jim
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Well Bryan, I really got slammed recently for posting essentially the same information in response to a post about the end all solution of ATM's while traveling in foreign countries. I got the same answer from my bank, with about the same charges. Of course some know it all said I was wrong, and ATM's are the "only" way to go. I am not sure that travelers checks are as "dead" as some people think they are. There is always the risk of losing a debit or credit card, and I shudder to think about getting one replaced while in another country. I don't think there is a perfect answer.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 08:00 PM
  #3  
Ronda
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Answer: combination Traveler's checks or cash, ATM and credit card. My husband won't leave home with some hard cold cash in his pocket.

As to fees, I can't remember that they were too bad. We did take out larger amounts to avoid racking up lots of fees.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 08:01 PM
  #4  
Ronda
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That should be "without some hard cold cash."
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 08:07 PM
  #5  
rand
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Shopping around for a bank is as important as shopping around for any other commodity. I have an account at a bank that charges me $3 per out of country transaction and another at a credit union that charges me no fees whatsoever if I maintain a balance over $1,000. If a vacation is of short duration, front loading one account that charges no fees from another that charges low interest can save money. Of course if you are a Fodors elite, with $000,000 in the bank, you do not concern yourself with these trivial amounts. I however sweat the extra $100 per year. Slam me if you want, I have broad shoulders.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 08:21 PM
  #6  
Call me "uninformed"
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Can anyone join a credit union or is it connected to your specific employment? Are they all "fee" friendly? I would like to place funds in an account for travel without paying extra to use them!!
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 08:58 PM
  #7  
rand
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These things are legislature dependant. The 'Credit Union' I belong to has nothing to to do with my employment. It is purely an 'alternative bank' in my area. You might try smaller banking instiutions to see if they have 'competitive' policies.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 09:52 PM
  #8  
janis
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My bank charges $1.50 and my credit union charges nothing. i still use my Bank card more since I get a lot of other bebefits on that account. When you are withdrawing $300 or more worth of local currency, $1.50 (or even $3.00) is a very small fee. Many European banks do not charge you at the other end - so the fees are very reasonable.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 10:28 PM
  #9  
Jeff
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I use USAA Bank in San Antonio. Their chequing account charges the proper fee for withdrawals from an ATM i.e. $0. If your bank is charging you one red cent to access your money, then they are ripping you off. I wouldn't pay to get to my money, money they are holding for no interest.

Incidentally, the rules of the shared teller networks prohibit banks from charging the obnoxeous double dipping fee the US banks have latched onto for using another bank's machine. Therefore, if you have a US issued ATM or debit card and use your card in London, the only fee you will pay is what your bank chooses to rip you off with. On the London end, the operator of the ATM cannot charge you any fee. The same thing works in reverse. If you have a debit or ATM card from a British bank, the US bank is not allowed to charge you that $1.50 convenience fee.

Yes, of course you should have a back up. My back up consists of $200 in US currency in 20's. If by some chance I cannot access the ATM, I would use whatever exchange place is handy to change a small amount of US currency into local currency. In all my trips to Europe, I have never had to do this as the ATM's have worked flawlessly every single time.

Finally, you should minimize your use of cash by using credit cards everywhere they are taken. In England, which I am most familiar with, about the only places that do not take credit cards are pubs (some do for food) and the sandwich shop Preat a Manger. For everything else, even for the £1.99 breakfast special at McDonald's or the underground passes, I use a credit card. Therefore, I need only take out about £20 at a time and rarely need more than £50 for a one week stay in London. Credit cards, if used properly, represent the best and only way to travel properly.

As far as TC's are concerned, they are really a royal pain the whatsoever and to me a relic of the past.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 10:45 PM
  #10  
Sue
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I'm confused about ATM fees. I don't believe my credit union charges a fee, but in France last June BNP and Credit Agricole charged $1 while the Caisse d'Epargne didn't. I was quite surprised because in March at Credit Agricole there was no fee. If I knew I were going to have to pay a fee, I would take out larger sums less frequently, but how do you know?
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 02:41 AM
  #11  
Nutella
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Does anyone know the max that can typically be withdrawn in Euro? Last year in Italy I found the max to be 500.000L. Thanks
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 02:57 AM
  #12  
Jeff
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Message: I'm confused about ATM fees. I don't believe my credit union charges a fee, but in France last June BNP and Credit Agricole charged $1 while the Caisse d'Epargne didn't. I was quite surprised because in March at Credit Agricole there was no fee. If I knew I were going to have to pay a fee, I would take out larger sums less frequently, but how do you know?

Clearly if the charge was $1, it was your credit union that made the charge. The French banks are not allowed to charge by the rules of the shared teller networks as I explained above.

If it was the French bank making the charge, it would be in terms of the currency which then was still Francs. They might have a charge of 10 Francs, which would be some odd ball amount like $1.23. Secondly as currency values fluctuate, it is highly unlikely the charge would be exactly $1 both times if the charges were indeed being made by the French banks. No I am afraid that it is your credit union that has decided to rip you off. I certainly would tell them to go to hell and get another bank.
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 04:20 AM
  #13  
Santa Chiara
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Nutella,
The rate remains about the same. You can withdraw 250 euros, which translates to around $240 (I am sure some pedant with correct me, but you get the idea). Anyway, in my experience, you can withdraw twice from an ATM in the same day, so conceivably you can get up to 500 euros.
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 04:46 AM
  #14  
Pam
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One issue with ATM cards that I haven't seen raised is this: If a mistake is made in posting, the money is taken from your account and you may not realize it until much later. IE: I was traveling in the US a few years back and used my ATM Debit card to pay for a night in a hotel. My receipt said $80 which was correct, but somehow $800 was deducted from my account. The next day when I went o use my ATM it was not accepted because there was no money in my account! ATM'cards in Europe would truly scare me! The rules are much different than with credit cards. If you use travelers checks, I would imagine they should be in Euros? Any thoughts??
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 12:03 PM
  #15  
Christina
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Sue, I think your bank charged that fee. I've never had a fee from a European ATM and I used BNP last July with my ATM card and there was no fee charged by them. Although the fact that there wasn't one with Caisse whatever is confusing. It might be your credit union's network or something; some banks have arrangements with others that are considered the same as using your own ATM, I've heard. The point about it being an even amount in US$ is a good one. On the other hand, it could be some deal where BNP/CA did charge you because your card is from a credit union, which isn't really the same as a bank and thus those agreements may not hold. In any case, that fee isn't so bad, anyway, unless you were getting very small amounts out. In the future, I'd just assume there might be a fee and get larger amounts out.

Bryan, your VISA debit card has a very high fee, $3, but I'd believe it, The other fee, 75 cents, is rather low, but possible. Maybe it's a good deal because you have a brokerage acct. with them or something. I've never been charged an ATM fee by the bank in Europe, only by my own bank. They probably tell you that to cover all bases, but I don't think there are any fees from European ATMs that are affiliated with banks and the standard networks like Cirrus.

Jeff makes that one good point, but I don't agree with all those arguments. For example, a bank charging you an ATM fee "to access your own money" is not necessarily a "rip off." Getting money abroad from an ATM is a big convenience and service, one I don't mind paying a reasonable fee for (like $1). Also, my bank DOES pay me interest on my money and gives me other services, and I have had ATMs not work in Europe more than once. Intelligent people can make up their own minds as to value of services versus various fees and how important that it is them in terms of their overall financial picture and what a cost using foreign ATMs is. As I said, I get interest and other things from my bank, as well as a local presence and flexible hours, and don't care at all that I pay a few dollars fee in total per year to get convenient foreign currency abroad (I only use it a few times a year). That is more than made up by the reasons I chose that bank and other things I get from them.

Bryan, I think you may be worrying way too much about this. A small ATM fee for use on your vacation is not worth changing entire banks for; banking decisions should be based on other things.

As for the last post, I agree, I don't use my ATM card too much on vacation because I don't want to risk bad transactions or just getting the card "eaten" when abroad (which almost happened to me once). I do use TCs which I get free and I know where to get good rates on using them so they don't really cost me much over using an ATM. However, do NOT get them in Euros, get them in your own native currency and exchange them abroad--you'll get a better exchange rate and then can easily use or deposit without charge any leftovers when you get home. You cannot use TCs like local cash in a foreign country in most places; you have to exchange them for local currency, anyway, regardless of whether they are in Euros or not (and you will pay a fee to do that even if they are in Euros, so don't get them that way).
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 12:12 PM
  #16  
Geewiz
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You are presumably spending some thousand(s) of dollars on this trip and you're letting a $3.00 ATM fee cause you any stress at all? Please focus! Just be sure to take more money each withdrawl than less. And worry about the stuff worth worrying about!
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 12:23 PM
  #17  
Carla
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Please help!! This will be my first time using a credit card in Europe for cash and paying for various services. I am very reluctant using an ATM machine for cash withdrawal because of "disappearing card". Happend to a friend of mine. Is it a problem getting cash at a bank with my card? What is the difference between an ATM card, debit card or credit card when withdrawing cash? I will be going to Germany and now (finally) own a Capital One Master Card. Thanks a lot for the help!
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 12:27 PM
  #18  
winnie
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Jeff and everyone concerned about ATM fees,

Your major bank credit cards are now charging a fee (up to 3%) for purchases - we're not talking debit cards here - in foreign countries. This is buried under the guise of "foreign currency exchange fee". Sometimes it is listed as a separate item on your credit card statement; other times it is "hidden" in the purchase price of the item. So I would not pay for my McDs breakfast with a major credit card.

Check with the bank that holds your credit card. Rates generally vary from 1-3%.
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 12:58 PM
  #19  
David
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Santa Chiara makes a valid observation: "Anyway, in my experience, you can withdraw twice from an ATM in the same day, so conceivably you can get up to 500 euros."

I'd like to point out that Friday from 2:30pm to Monday at 8:00am is one business day for my US bank. That means I'm limited to about 500USD for that time. And if it's Memorial Day weekend back in the US, that means one business day is from Friday afternoon to Tuesday morning.

I did get burned in Munich one time by this. I ended up in a hotel that did not take credit cards and was checking out Sunday morning. Luckily I was with friends and we had enough cash among us to pay the tab. Otherwise, I'd have used my emergency travels checks and taken what exchange rate I could get on a Sunday.

I've not tried to call my bank and raise the limit, so I don't know if it's possible.
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 01:09 PM
  #20  
Jeff
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Your major bank credit cards are now charging a fee (up to 3%) for purchases - we're not talking debit cards here - in foreign countries. This is buried under the guise of "foreign currency exchange fee". Sometimes it is listed as a separate item on your credit card statement; other times it is "hidden" in the purchase price of the item. So I would not pay for my McDs breakfast with a major credit card.

This is an important point. Some of the large credit card banks, notably Citibank, Chase, First USA, Bank of America and Providian, have begun tacking on a 2% charge to the 1% charge imposed by MC/Visa for foreign currency transactions. They claim it has something to do with the currency conversion which is a lie as the actual conversion is done by MC/Visa. Of the big credit card banks, MBNA and Capital One only charge the 1% MC/Visa fee on the interbank rate which is a far far better deal than you could get by exchanging cash and the same rate as the ATM withdrawals. Note that the two major ATM networks, Plus and Cirrus are subsidiaries of Visa and MC respectively.

So the moral is you should never use a credit card issued by the above noted banks in a foreign country. You are tossing 2% out the window into their coffers when it is a simple matter to get a credit card from a bank which does not add on the extra 2%.

With that provision, it is still far cheaper and smarter to charge a £1.99 breakfast in McDonald's. My motto is always use a credit card in any merchant that accepts it no matter how small the charge as their prices reflect the cost of accepting credit cards.

Unfortunately, in England for example, we don't have the same protection we have in the United States. In the United States, the agreements merchants sign with their MC/Visa bank prohibit them from either charging a surcharge for using a credit card or imposing a minimum. Some merchants in England, unfortunately, will not take a credit card for less than £5 and a year or two ago I ran into merchants in Paris who refused to take a credit card for under 100FFr. But it's interesting to note during the strike of armored car drivers in Paris a couple of years ago, all merchants began accepting credit cards for any transaction including as little as 8 Francs for a single metro ticket.....and there were no problems.

I stick to what I said.

1. Do not use an ATM card of a bank that charges you for a transaction that costs them about 6 cents which is the fee they pay to the shared teller netowrk. I don't think banks should lose money so if they charged 10 cents for these transactions I would not object. But anything more than that is a rip-off.

2. Use credit cards issued by any bank other than the criminal ones charging the additional 2% for foreign currency transactions everywhere they are taken. This will cut down on the amount of cash you need. And don't be embarassed to use the card for small transactions. There is nothing wrong with that.

 

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