Cash vs ATM

Jan 20th, 2010, 10:03 PM
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There had to be a reason - ATM cards work 99.999% of the time (except in some automated machines - but we know about those in advance)

So it wasn't just "didn't work" - there was a 'why'. Was your money in a savings account? Or - if you have linked savings and checking, which is the primary account? Or was it for a credit Union w/ a small/limited network? (A few credit unions/banks don't belong to the typical Plus/Cirrus/etc networks)? Did it work back home - could it have been de-magnetized? Or a special investment account? -- anything????
janisj is online now  
Jan 20th, 2010, 10:05 PM
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By "automated machines" I meant like ticket machines. But that mostly relates to credit cards, not ATM cards.
janisj is online now  
Jan 20th, 2010, 10:24 PM
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<<< Bank ATM's, which don't charge transaction fees have better conversion rates but still aren't free because they have to make money somehow. >>>

Most ATMs in Europe are free - it's your bank that sets the exchange rate and other fees
alanRow is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 12:35 AM
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In which countries in Europe did your ATM card not work? Some places require debit cards rather than strictly ATM cards, which is why I got a debit card after resisting for years. I have encountered this in Italy and in Portugal. And I always bring cards from two different accounts to use as backup in case one doesn't work.
Nikki is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 04:28 AM
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As I've written before, me and this Nigerian Prince, who keeps sending me emails, will help you out alot. Send me all of your money, in cash, and I'll hang out in Europe until the exchange rate drops. In the meantime, my Nigerian friend will invest your money in this foolproof scheme, something to do with a lottery or bank account. Anyway, there will be a small surcharge, like say 40 or 50%, but that's not such a big deal, especially if what the Nigerian says is true, you'll make lots more than that.

I'm just kidding. Use debit cards, better to have two from different banks. If you really feel you should have a few euros before you leave, then get them from your bank, but don't go hauling around a wad of money. Would you do that in say NYC or Chicago?

To be honest, one of the things I often do is to ask friends who may have just come back from a trip and buy any euros they had left over at the current exchange rate. It isn't much, but maybe 20-50 euros.

daveesl is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 04:35 AM
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Thereyet - for your next trip please take my wife's ATM card. She uses it twice a day in Europe and unfortunately it always works.
colduphere is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 04:45 AM
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ty, I have a card that I can't get cash from in Europe... my Merrill Lynch visa. Has all the appropriate logos, but when I asked them, they specifically tell me, 'nope. doesn't work. too much fraud. use like a credit card and find something else to use for cash.'

I was very happy to have had a backup!
surfmom is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 06:49 AM
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daveesl: The original OP is nearly 3 years old. The OP just came back to ell us his card didn't work on the trip. We're now trying to figure out why. Hopefully thereyet will come out of the Lounge long enough to give us more info.
janisj is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 11:34 PM
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Card worked fine at home. There are two accounts linked to the card...Checking/savings. There was plenty of money in both accounts. As i said, I reported to my bank where and when I was going, and was assured there would be no problem.

Fortunately, my wife's card...same accounts, did work.

In the Spring of '09, we returned to London, went through the same procedure, explaining what had happened the previous trip. Again assured there would be no problem. My card worked EXACTLY one time, then wouldn't allow anymore ATM transactions, however, I could make some purchases as it was a debit card. Again, my wife had no problem using ATM machines...on the same accounts.

The accounts are in a major bank.

The first trip, I used an ATM card, the second trip I used a debit card.

Needless to say....I WAS PISSED.

My point? some of the information you get here...not all that helpful.

It was more have my wife along, as she had better LUCK with her card.

thereyet is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 12:26 AM
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I doubt that you can disqualify the advice to use ATMs and not bring huge sums in cash as "not helpful" by using your individual bad experience as a benchmark for further travels.
Especially since your bank was unable to find out why your card did not work.

The only way to get around both the safety issue with cash and possible technical failure issues with cards would be to bring the whole amount of money you need as cash in traveller cheques, and queue up every other day at some bank to cash in a €100 cheque. I wonder if that can be a feasible solution.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 06:16 AM
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Get a credit union card as they don't charge the fees that banks charge. I have an account I use for travel only, not linked to other accounts. When you call to notify them you will be traveling and to flag your account you need to call back in a few days and make sure they actually flagged the account (many times they haven't). Get a contact number you can call (not a US 800 which won't work) if you have a problem or your card quits working. Sometimes it's something as simple as trying to take more out in the foreign currency than your daily limit in USD. If the machine allows 300 withdrawal in GBP and you enter that amount and your limit at your home bank is $400 then the transaction won't work. (300GBP = $483 so is over your withdrawal limit).

Your card not working has something to do with your bank, not the foreign ATM's. Did you specifically flag both cards for the account? It sounds as if it wasn't (perhaps only your wife's card was properly flagged) and they are freezing your card after the first transaction. When they suspect fraud, they then call your phone listed on your account (home phone?) to verify the withdrawal. If you are not there to answer, the card is frozen.
kybourbon is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 06:24 AM
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We buy a pack of Euros from AAA-that way we can get away from the airport fast.

We did have our bank card not work at one ATM but work fine at another location (at the SAME Italian bank) so don't give up if you have a problem. Also, make sure, if you have a savings/checking account that you have enough in both to cover your expenses. The ATM doesn't always give you option of choosing which acct. you want.
TDudette is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 07:18 AM
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TD, there was plenty of cash in both accounts.

I would like to think the problem was having two accounts linked, but it didn't seem to effect my wife so.....

It isn't like I have enough cash on hand to bank for the trip in multiple accounts, with multiple I can find out later which one is going to work. It still seems pretty much like a crap shoot, despite following all the advice given here on Fodors.

It is pretty unnerving finding your self in a foreign country with out access to your funds.

thereyet is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 08:00 AM
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Yes, it would be unnerving to not have access to your funds. I'm a bit tense when I land and put my ATM card into the slot, but it has worked, every time in every country (Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Chile, Argentina and a few European countries). And I feel a lot better having cash in hand.

I had a problem in Prague but then realized that it was the amount I was requesting. After trying several times I changed the amount and got the cash.

I think I was requesting an odd amount to pay my hotel bill and the machine did not hold the bills needed.
Perhaps something like it dispenses only tens and twenties and I needed a five.
Luisah is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 08:01 AM
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< Thereyet - for your next trip please take my wife's ATM card. She uses it twice a day in Europe and unfortunately it always works.>>

Welcome back!
Luisah is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 08:05 AM
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Hi Luisah - thanks. I never left here. Only the other place.
colduphere is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 08:57 AM
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There was a thread asking where you were. Several people miss you. We are in desperate need of a few laughs down here.
Luisah is offline  
Jan 24th, 2010, 07:09 AM
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The other thing is your personal id code-it needs to be 4 digits (unless that changed while I wasn't looking!)
TDudette is offline  
Jan 24th, 2010, 07:26 AM
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There is another thread here about taking currency into Turkey. A local person with financial expertise mentioned that banks there give better exchange rates than at home or via ATM. So there may be countries that pay a premium for US$.

Then again, I went to Ghana in 2005...not many ATMs
Michel_Paris is offline  
Jan 24th, 2010, 07:36 AM
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PIN # is four digits.

Well, we went to England, Spain and no shortage of ATMs and NO premium on US dollars.

thereyet is offline  

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