ATM's in London

Old Feb 14th, 2001, 03:59 PM
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ATM's in London

I have an ATM Visa/Debit Card. I can get AMEX or VISA Traveler's Checks in pounds sterling for no service charge (paying the standard exchange rate for that day). We plan on using credit cards whereever we can, but will need some cash, and will need to pay our hotel bill in cash or Travelers Checks (to get a substantial discount).

My question: Should we just use the credit cards and Traveler's Checks, or should we use the credit cards and ATM/debit machines. How much is the charge from a debit machine overseas?
Old Feb 14th, 2001, 04:33 PM
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On our last few trips to England (nice to be able to say that!!!) we have relied on our ATM cards pretty exclusively. We charge meals and bigger expenses, and get cash from the machines for the day to day expenses as needed. The machines are nearly everywhere, with appropriate PLUS, CIRRUS, etc. logos to help you find the ones that work with your card.

You can access websites for the PLUS and CIRRUS systems that will even pinpoint street addresses for the machines. We stayed a bit in Ely, and since it sounded "small," I wanted to make sure there were ATMs there. Of course, there were--but I checked it before we left by looking it up on the web.

We had to pay our accommodations in cash last time--staying a chunk of time in a b & b--so we just saved a couple of days' withdrawals at max from the ATM to pay our hosts in cash. That way, we did not have to pay for the traveller's checks or fiddle with them OR worry about getting any cash in any form to England.

Our cards are with our credit union and tap directly in to our checking accounts, so there also was no interest on any charge to a credit card. The only slight wrinkle is to make sure you have enough money in your checking account!
The fees seem inconsequential to me given the convenience. I believe they are under $2 per use.
Hope that helps.
Old Feb 14th, 2001, 05:30 PM
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ATM cards also work with a teller and at many bureaux de change, and you can get more money than the ATM daily allotment.
As for travelers' checks in foreign denominations: you are still paying an exchange rate, so check it before buying; you are buying British pounds. Don't buy more than you'll need for your b&b costs, because if you don't use them, you have to exchange them BACK into your own country's currency, usually with a loss (unless currency fluctuation works in your favor, but it never seems to do that). I prefer ATM cards and credit cards to TCs (notify your banks you'll be traveling overseas, or they may freeze the cards for 'unusual activity', a real pain in the butt); also be aware of your bank's batching time, which is when your account is not accessible. If your bank batches at 2:00am PST, it's 9:00am in the dough.
Old Feb 14th, 2001, 05:31 PM
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Actually, it's 10:00am, even worse.
Old Feb 14th, 2001, 05:47 PM
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Use the atms (not bureau de exchange), better exchange rate which more than makes up for any fee charged by your bank.
Old Feb 15th, 2001, 06:03 AM
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Re ATM charge: You will be charged exactly the same as if you used your ATM card at home 1 block down the street from your issuing bank. Fortunately, our local bank charges only one dollar, but you know what your own bank charges.

TC's are rapidly going the way of the dinosaur. On several trips we took about $200 in TC just as backup, but always came home with them intact, so now we go armed with our ATM and Visa cards, change in our pockets, and that's it. Word of advice: Take 2 ATM cards and 2 DIFFERENT Visa cards, one of each to be carried by spouse.
Old Feb 15th, 2001, 06:22 AM
Brian in Atlanta
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Agree with everything said above. Go with ATM and credit card (don't rely on only one card however).

The ATMs in London will not charge you to use them. Only your bank will apply a charge (mine charges $1.50).

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