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Best way to access Australian-based cash on holidays in Europe?


Apr 30th, 2015, 07:44 PM
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Best way to access Australian-based cash on holidays in Europe?

Hi there,

I am wondering if there are any simple and 'inexpensive' ways to access my cash while I am traveling to Europe.

According to my bank - ING - I won't get charged transfer/exchange fees if I withdraw from an overseas teller machine. I will pay a flat AU$2.50 per withdrawal. However they also pointed out I will likely be charged a transaction fee by the bank which owns the machine. They also said all credit card/visa debit transactions in stores and restaurants etc would be charged a fee of 2.5% of total transaction. This is also charged to withdrawals made inside a bank.

My questions are:
1 Does this advice sound correct?
2. Does anyone know what is the rate charged by banks to use their ATMs with a foreign card?
3. Will I also be charged exchange fees in other ways?
4. Is there a better way? Such as a travel card? Any advice from Australians here would be much appreciated.

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Apr 30th, 2015, 08:22 PM
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The typical bank in Spain and France do not charge fees when using an ATM to obtain cash using a debit/ATM card. Your bank may charge a set fee, but not the local bank.

There would be a fee if using a credit card to obtain cash, which is never a good way to go. Use the credit card only to make larger purchases (hotels, lunch, etc.). Use you debit/ATM card for walking around cash as needed.

Travel cards are never a good deal.
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Apr 30th, 2015, 08:31 PM
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Thanks Robert. My bank led me to believe the fee they charge to withdraw cash at an ATM in Europe plus any the local bank charges was the only fees I would pay. However a friend, along with everything I can find online, suggests they will still add a currency conversion/transaction fee around 2-3% every time I withdraw. To this end, there seems little difference in this option to a travel card ...?

I don't currently have a credit card - just use visa debit - but I think it may be wise to get one as a back up, along with perhaps a second visa debit card in case I lose one while out and about? I think I can get credit cards with no fees for use in Europe, so it may be best to do that, and then use it while I am eating out in restaurants or buying tours etc, and then transfer the money from my debit card to pay myself back?
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Apr 30th, 2015, 09:02 PM
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You may want to check with one of the Australian-owned banks instead of one owned by the Nederlands (ING), to see what they have to offer. A lot of Aussies travel without such problems.
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Apr 30th, 2015, 09:09 PM
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Thanks Robert. ING is a Nederlands bank yes, but they have an Australian subsiduary, which I use as my mortgage is with them.
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Apr 30th, 2015, 09:51 PM
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The roiginal poster on this thread might have some suggestions:

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Apr 30th, 2015, 10:34 PM
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May 1st, 2015, 01:05 AM
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I have always used my Australian Credit Union debit card at an ATM (Europe/ Asia). I generally only withdraw once a week and I think my account showed a $5 fee each time. I always pay in cash in restaurants and accommodation. We each carry a card and both are linked to each others' accounts, so if 1 card is stolen/ lost we can cancel the card but still access the account.
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May 1st, 2015, 01:10 AM
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Thanks Adelaidean. I traveling with friends but will have a week on my own so I need a solution that only involves myself as a back up! I once lost my wallet on my first night in Canada and luckily my partner had a separate card so we were able to cancel mine and still access cash. I ended up finding it again (I'd left it in a restaurant which didn't open again til late the next day) but I had already cancelled it so it was useless!

I was advised by a work colleague today to use Citibank, which doesn't charge any fees for withdrawing at ATMs or when I pay as a visa debit in stores. I think your idea would work well also. My ING card would only charge me around $5 each time too but because I will be on my own a bit I don't feel comfortable withdrawing large amounts. I figure it can't hurt to get a Citibank card which costs me nothing to have!
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May 1st, 2015, 01:15 AM
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A lot of Aussies use the 28 degree credit card issued by Citibank as they do not charge a foreign transaction fee. As said above never take out cash via an atm or bank with a credit card
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May 1st, 2015, 02:15 AM
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The best way to save on the withdrawal fee is to use your credit card whenever possible. No banks in Italy add a fee for ATM withdrawals; the only fee will be from your bank. There is always a slight difference between the official exchange rate and the effective rate you get. My bank in the US adds two fees: one for not using their ATM, which they would charge even if I were in the US, and one for an international withdrawal.

If you withdraw €250, a $2.50AUD fee is less than 1%. If I use a credit card whenever it's possible, which means at all hotels, most restaurants, and for major purchases, I would only withdraw about €500 per week, usually €250 at a time, which is the limit imposed by many Italian bank ATMs. That would be $2.50 a week if there were only the one fee imposed, or $5 if there are two fees imposed. It's hardly worth getting worked up about. If you don't travel abroad very often, it's not even worth the hassle of looking for a new bank or a new credit card.

I live in Italy, but my pension is paid into a US bank. I mostly access my pension by withdrawing at ATMs, and sometimes by wire transfer. I pay about $5USD per withdrawal but the convenience of using a bank account at my daughter's university credit union outweighs any savings I would realize by changing banks.
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May 1st, 2015, 05:21 AM
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In the US Citibank doesn;t charge for withdrawing from other company's ATMs as long as you have a minimum balance with them - in all of your accounts. This may also be true in Australia so I would check on this.

Here I think you have to have a minimum $10K in deposits to make all basic services free (no ATM or checking account fees, etc) - but I'm not sure of the amount since we have substantially more than that there. I would not sign up with another bank without fully understanding their rules.
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May 1st, 2015, 09:35 AM
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There is no way to be charged an exchange fee at an ATM except by your own bank. Does that info sound correct?

I don't have an AUstralian ATM card, so who knows. It seems to me a lot of banks charge the same markup when used as a debit card or at an ATM, they claim they only do when a debit card. Could be true, who knows. I believe someone on Fodors claimed the same thing by some ATM card they had from the US recently (that they didn't charge the markup for ATM cash, only purchases).

Does your friend who "suggests" they add a markup at ATMs have that type of card and did it? Or are they just speculating?

However, lots of bank customer service people in the US don't know what they are talking about. Believe me, I've had my bank claim all kind of nonsense of this issue (once they claimed it was the foreign bank charging me the markup on ATm withdrawals, not them == I insisted on speaking to a supervisor who admitted it was them). I don't understand this, it's like they just fabricate stuff. I this case, the supervisor knew full well that wasn't true, so aren't they the one training people? I've also had another one tell me it was a good deal to accept DCC in foreign countries to avoid exchange markups. She had no idea what she was talking about, again I wondered if she was just making stuff up or they were trained to say that.
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May 1st, 2015, 10:16 AM
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Are you telling us that you are banking with ING in Australia and the banker does not have publicly accessible disclosures of all fees? That can't be true - Australia is a semi-civilized Anglospheric country and all countries regulate banking services offered to their citizens. Don't rely on "a friend" or this board - go find out from ING's public information.
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May 1st, 2015, 11:29 PM
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Thanks everyone. BigRuss, I did just that. Here is what I found:

International transactions on your Visa Debit card
An international transaction is a transaction where the merchant or financial institution accepting the card is located outside of Australia. We will apply an international transaction fee for each transaction occurring outside Australia (whether in foreign currency or Australian dollars) posted to your account.
When you use your Visa Debit card to make an international transaction in a foreign currency, Visa International converts the transaction into Australian dollars using:
 a rate Visa International selects from the range of rates in
wholesale currency markets, as at the date they process the transaction. The rate they receive may vary from the rate they've selected; or
 a rate a government requires Visa International to apply to the conversion, as at the date they process the transaction.
Visa International may convert a foreign currency transaction into US dollars before converting it into Australian dollars.
For current fees that apply to international transactions on your Visa Debit card, please see the Fees and Limits Schedule.
International Purchase
2.5% of transaction amount
International ATM Withdrawal
International ATM Withdrawal Fee Rebate
0% of Fee

And here is what I found from the Citibank dual currency card fees disclosure statement:
Local & International Payments and Foreign Currency Services (Excludes Citibank Plus Transaction and Citibank Online Saver Accounts) Note: These are not included in your fee-free limit.
When is the fee charged?
Citibank Visa Debit Card / Citibank Debit Card – overseas transactions
International Transaction Fee
Charged for all overseas ATM and electronic point-of-sale transactions made in a foreign currency using your Citi Visa Debit / Citi Debit Card. For Citi Visa Debit transactions, this amount includes a 1% service and assessment fee payable by Citibank to Visa. This fee will be charged as a percentage of your withdrawal amount.
Funds Transfers
Outward Funds Transfer: To a bank within Australia (in any currency):
When you transfer funds in any currency from your Citibank Australia Account to another bank account in Australia. Please note, any foreign currency conversion charges are applied by the means in which you convert the currency and are not charged as part of the Telegraphic Transfer Fee.

So now I am totally confused! Is it correct that my reading of this shows there is no difference between ING and Citibank??

The person who advised me about Citibank has travelled all over the world with the dual currency card and says it is the best one. He also has ING and says he only takes it as a back up.
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May 1st, 2015, 11:42 PM
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You are talking a few PENNIES a day, $1 max. I personally don't get all the angst people get into over this issue. If you want to change banks/open a new account anyway - go ahead. But honestly, is it worth worrying about a few dollars in fees during a trip?
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May 2nd, 2015, 02:21 AM
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No, I think you're right janis. I think that if I aim to get cash out a couple of times a week and carry it with me and use cash apart from when I buy things like tours and attend events, I should spend less than $100 extra for the whole trip - including credit card transaction costs. I do however think asking these kinds of questions is a good exercise in educating us all because if no one asked questions then I'm sure the banks would love it and probably be able to charge a lot more!
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May 2nd, 2015, 02:58 AM
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I'm surprised your Visa charges that much (my Visa doesn't), but it's all to do with the bank that issues that particular Visa. My Visa charges the interbank rate you see in the paper plus 1%, but mine is for a credit union and they don't charge as much as regular banks.

As you could see by looking at your ING Visa info, it's them charging the fees, not the foreign ATM. There are some ATM's that charge fees though. These are more private ATM's (in the US, you often see these in convenience type stores), not the bank ATM's. Also, ATM cards have either a Cirrus or Star association (check your card). You can check for a list of ATM's for the one on your card.
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May 2nd, 2015, 03:13 AM
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I'm Australian and after paying hundreds of dollars in bank fees one holiday I investigated alternative options. My findings are that most Australian banks charge a conversion fee and transaction fees.

However, 28degrees from GE Money offer no conversion fees on purchases. You can load your 28degrees credit card to a positive balance and withdraw this money from ATMs. This way you will avoid interest but you will pay their conversion fee (about 3% I think).

Citibank Plus offer a debit card which offers no conversion or transaction fees on purchases or ATM withdrawals.

I wouldn't use travel cards unless I thought the currency is going to decline (impossible to predict so I've never used one). However, if I were to use one, I'd investigate the OzForex one as I've heard it has a better exchange rate. I don't know if this is true.

It's actually quite difficult to find all the rates and do a fair comparison. If you want two cards, then I'd consider a Citibank Plus for ATM withdrawals and a 28degrees card as backup and purchases.

Caveat: please check all these out for yourself and confirm this information is still current before you open any accounts.

Lastly, if offered the alternative of paying in the local currency or AUD, always accept the local currency. Rates are poorer if the merchant has already converted it to AUD.

Good luck and let me know how you go.
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May 2nd, 2015, 03:27 AM
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Thanks kybourbon and dreamon.
Perhaps that's the Citibank card my colleague was talking about. I will double check on Monday! He was pretty adamant there are no charges at all other than the small difference between what the bank buys the Euro for and what the consumer gets - the conversion cost I guess. I'll check out credit cards with no fees. The benefit of mine is the free travel insurance but it's not like I have to use it OS as I have Visa debit anyway. And I won't be spending money I dont have!!
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