ATMs v. Credit Cards

Aug 21st, 2001, 11:20 AM
  #1  
Katie
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ATMs v. Credit Cards

Will I get a better exchange rate (taking into account the conversion fees) with an ATM card at Washington Mutual or using credit cards? The only credit cards I have are an American Express and Citibank Visa, which I heard charge between 2-3%.

Thanks.
 
Aug 21st, 2001, 11:28 AM
  #2  
Gerry
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Katie:
As much as possible use your ATM to get cash and pay for things in cash. Most credit cards charge currency conversion fees and some other fees while ATM cards do not.
 
Aug 21st, 2001, 11:40 AM
  #3  
planner
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How about Debit cards? Do you know if they usually charge conversion fees as well?
 
Aug 21st, 2001, 11:49 AM
  #4  
Gerry
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Planner:
I just topped the Credit Card fees post that is still waiting for an answer.
Debit cards typically charge the same conversion fees as credit cards.
 
Aug 21st, 2001, 12:22 PM
  #5  
confused
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What's the difference between an ATM card and a debit card? I thiught they were one in the same.
 
Aug 21st, 2001, 12:47 PM
  #6  
Christina
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I have a Citibank VISA and know for a fact that it charges 3 pct (1 pct VISA, 2 pct their own). An ATM will probably be a better deal, but that depends on your own bank, so you have to ask them; it also depends on amount of your withdrawal as usually there is a flat fee per withdrawal (mine is $1.50), so if you withdraw less than US$50 each time, that could well end up being about a 4 pct total fee or more, and that's assuming there is no conversion fee (my bank charges no conversion fee on cash withdrawals in Europe). My ATM card is also a debit card but I've never used it that way so I don't know about that; I think an ATM and debit card can be combined into one card, but people typically use ATM card to mean withdrawing cash from your checking account and debit to mean a purchase rather than cash withdrawal, even though the purchase price is deducted directly from your bank acct rather than being billed. I don't understand the point of that whatsoever, why not get a float from the company until the end of the month when you pay your bill, not to mention bookkeeping involved, but some people who can obtain no credit must use one, I guess. I did not ask for one and never use it, my bank changed all ATM cards to combo ATM/debit cards. YOu don't have any consumer protection on purchases with debit cards as far as I know nor a lot of the other benefits of credit cards (car insurance? not sure). I don't really pay much attention to these minor differences as I don't spend much money anyway or go abroad that much, but I recently did decide to apply for a credit card that had a combo of free frequent flyer miles AND no foreign currency transaction fee to use abroad instead of my Citibank VISA; why not, I have 2 credit cards and hate one of them anyway (First VISA) so figured I might as well replace that one with a card with no such fee. I keep my Citibank as I've been with them a long time and do like their customer service; they've handled several problems of erroneous charges to my card very efficiently and pleasantly and I value that. I think Am Express charges a total of 2 pct but am not sure. Bottom line, your ATM card will probably be best bet unless you withdraw a lot of small amounts or have some gigunda withdrawal fee, Citibank VISA worst.
 
Aug 21st, 2001, 01:44 PM
  #7  
xxxx
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If using ATM cards always make sure that you money is in the checking account not savings not all ATMs in europe let you access you savings account or allow transfers I found out the hard way !
 
Aug 22nd, 2001, 10:44 AM
  #8  
Ann
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You can't use your ATM card as a debit card overseas. You can withdraw money with it, though. If it's also a check card, with the Visa symbol, you can use it like a regular credit card.

The best way to know what each card charges is to call customer service and your bank. Don't rely on what people tell you here. Find out for yourself.
 
Aug 22nd, 2001, 03:45 PM
  #9  
Leslie
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ATM means Automatic Transaction Machine -- the card you have is either a debit card (for depositing or withdrawing fund from your bank account) or a credit card (you get a bill at the end of the month). If you use your debit card at a foreign ATM (meaning one not owned by your specific bank), then you will pay a transaction fee from $1 to $5 -- it doesn't make any difference how much money you withdraw. However, the trick to avoiding the transaction fee is to use your debit card, for example, in a supermarket to pay for an item and then take additional cash, you are not charged a "transaction fee". If you use your credit card in an ATM machine, you are taking a loan (because you are not buying merchandise) and therefore are charged a 1 to 3% transaction fee based on the amount you are borrowing. The last caveat to this is that if you use either your debit or credit card at an ATM machine, you are getting the best rate available (based on the commercial exchange rate that day), and you don't have to pay the commission for the exchange rate either. Overall, it is best to use your debit card when you want cash, otherwise, use your credit card with merchants.

Leslie
 
Aug 22nd, 2001, 04:06 PM
  #10  
Gerry
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Leslie:
Most banks are now charging a 1-3% currency conversion fee in addition to the bank exchange rate. This applies to credit card and debit card transactions. So far not when just using an ATM to get cash. Also some banks are charging an international transaction fee for any use or the card outside of the US. Any info on cards that do not do this are welcome. There is a thread asking this question that no one has answered. "No fee credit cars for currency conversions."
 
Aug 22nd, 2001, 04:22 PM
  #11  
n
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Chas. Schwab has the only credit card I have seen that does not charge for foreign exchanges. The AE blue card is also good for foreing travel.
 

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