Do ATM's charge?

Old Mar 5th, 2012, 10:03 AM
  #1  
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Do ATM's charge?

Hey So I hope this question makes sense...
I am traveling to Europe this summer and trying to figure out whether to take my debit/credit card from my local bank (It is a VERY small bank, but it is also a VISA card) or to get an actual credit card (Since I'm only 19, I do not already have one and doubt I would get a very good rate.) If I get the actual credit card, I would have my parents pay my bill at the end of each month, since I will be gone for 2 months.

BUT I asked my bank, and they said they have no foreign transaction fee and only a $2 ATM fee, but they had no idea if the ATM itself would charge me. Since I have never withdrawn money even in the states from an ATM, I also have no idea... I am hoping one of you out there does...

Thank you
-Emm

Oh, and I am visiting Ireland, England, Italy, and France
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 10:07 AM
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No, ATMs in Europe do not charge a fee for withdrawals.

I would try to find a US bank that doesn't charge you any fee at all for an ATM transaction, though.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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ATMS connected with banks do not charge. But commercial ATMS - such as you might find in a store or hotel - typically do have a charge - just as they do in the US. To minimize charges - on either end - take out enough money for a few days at a time. (I had a friend who always took $20 or $40 at a time- paying $3 for the privilege at the ATM in the corner CVS. I couldn't convince her the oly thing that makes sense is to take at least $200 at a time to minimize the percentage you are paying for the service.)

Separately I would never go to europe with just one card. If, god forbid you lose it, an ATM eats it or your bank goes weird you will be stuck. I would ask your parents to get you an extra card on their checking account as well as an extra of one of their credit cards just to be safe.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 10:10 AM
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Typically it is your bank which makes any charges, not the ATM itself. That's been my experience every time - the only charges on my account come from my bank. Does your bank charge $2 every time you make a withdrawal even in the US?

What you do NOT want to do is to get a credit card and use it to get cash. Cash advances on credit cards charge a lot of interest - much more expensive than withdrawing cash from your checking account using a debit card. It might not be a bad idea to get a credit card anyway, both as a backup for your trip and as a way to get a credit history started for yourself (assuming you can pay the bill in full every month and won't rack up debt). Just don't use it as a means to get cash.

Whatever you do, use an ATM in the States first, and make sure you call your bank(s) to let them know you'll be traveling. Otherwise your card(s) might be frozen when you get to Europe.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 10:10 AM
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Do you have a credit union to which you can belong? They often do not charge any fee for ATM withdrawals abroad.

Make sure that you withdraw money only from a bank ATM, not a free standing private one, which could charge you a fee.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 10:14 AM
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I would get a credit card of some sort to take with you in addition to the ATM card. It's always nice to have a backup source of funds. Keep the credit card hidden away or something, so if in worst case you lose your ATM card/cash you would have some quick source of funds. Take about $100 USD with you as well to have some emergency cash you could change if need be - I usually do this but have never needed to exchange it in Europe - so far! Exchanging cash is more expensive than using an ATM card.

Let your bank(s) know before you leave for Europe that you are traveling over there, so they don't suspect fraud when you start using them over there!!!

FYI, I've never been charged an ATM fee in Europe. My credit union doesn't charge for the first six uses per month at any non-CU ATM. All I pay is the 1% Visa currency conversion fee.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 10:37 AM
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Make sure you have a chip and pin card, as in some places in Europe swipe cards are not accepted everywhere (eg UK) or at all (eg Estonia).
My experience with a small bank debit card was not good: in Barcelona I could not use my Visa debit card in any Spanish bank ATM. When I enquired why, the banks would tell me that they were unable to communicate with my bank to verify the balance. Credit cards worked fine however. And I managed to workaround this by drawing cash from a British bank ATM.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 11:17 AM
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I agree that the fees (if any) come from your home bank.

I would want to have a charge card along even if you don't plan to use it, as a back up for emergencies. Also a small stash of cash you could change.

For a big trip like this (4 countries) you definitely want more than just one way to be able to get funds.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 11:26 AM
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Not all fees come from your home bank.

1. as stated above, bank ATMs in Europe do not charge a fee.
2. the ATM network (Visa/MC, akd Cirrus or Plus) usually charge a 1% foreign exchange fee - as Andrew stated. Some banks will add on another 1-2% fee, but none of my banks do so I never see that.
3. your own bank's fees, which range from $0 to $5 or more per transaction.

#2, the 1% is hard to avoid, and not a big deal. There are some banks that may absorb that fee, but they are few and far between.

#3 is much more variable.

I usually bring $100-200 USD cash with me on trips to europe, as a backup. For the last 10 years or so I've returned home with the same $100-200 USD cash in my pocket. Lately I've stared the practice of coming home with about 50 euros leftover, to carry with me on my next trip, so I've abandoned the $US backup plan.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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You can ignore this bit >>Make sure you have a chip and pin card, as in some places in Europe swipe cards are not accepted everywhere (eg UK) or at all (eg Estonia).
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 11:18 AM
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Agree with Janis - you're not going to have a chip-and-pin card and you won't need one.

Look at the back of your bank card. If you see the PLUS network symbol or the Cirrus symbol, you should not have problems withdrawing money. If you do NOT see those symbols, you will have problems because you will not be connected to the two largest networks connecting cash withdrawal services.

Do NOT check balances or perform other transactions - just withdraw money because every transaction will cost you if your bank charges a fee.

Do NOT ever withdraw money with a credit card - you will be charged interest from the minute you're transaction is complete AND you will be subject to minimum charges from the credit card company.

Your debit card is on the Visa network for use as a cash equivalent, it is not a credit card because your account will be debited immediately.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 11:40 AM
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I love when banks say "we charge no transaction fees." They define "we" narrowly hoping you interpret no means zero. Except for a few financial institutions, they all pass on MC/Visa 1% conversion fee. When pressed about these charges "oh, that comes from Visa/MC and we just pass it onto you, but WE don't charge any fees."
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 11:51 AM
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@janisj and BigRuss. He/she will have problems using a swipe (non-chip and pin) card at point-of-sales (ie. shops, which is where you would use the card to avoid extra charges) in some European countries. As I said through my own firsthand experience, in UK most but not all retail outlets did not accept the card and in Estonia I was unable to use swipe cards anywhere, even though in both cases it was a VISA card.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 12:20 PM
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Not only will you not need a chip and pin card for most transactions, you almost certainly will be UNABLE TO GET ONE, as they really don't exist in the USA. So I agree to avoid that advice.

I have used my ATM debit cards in shops, restaurants, cafés...everywhere...all over Europe for years, without a problem. The only place I've ever not been able to use it is at the gas pump outside the major supermarket in Le Bugue.

Admittedly, I've not been to Estonia.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 12:23 PM
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I've never had trouble in the UK (several visits, though the last was in 2009). You can't stick it in the chip-and-PIN machine yourself, of course, but I've never had issues with just letting the clerk know he/she will have to swipe my card. That's everywhere from London museum shops to grocery stores far from tourist spots.

I've never been to Estonia so can't comment there, though as it's not on the OP's itinerary either, that probably won't be an issue.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 12:32 PM
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>>>StCirq on Mar 5, 12 at 1:07pm
No, ATMs in Europe do not charge a fee for withdrawals.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 12:38 PM
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Yes, I should have specified that. I don't ever use non-bank ATMs (in Europe OR the USA), so it didn't occur to me to mention it.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 12:48 PM
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Chip and pin cards are practically imposible to get in the US. Regular credit cards simply don;t have them. If you do a premier card (black or whatever through AmEx) you may be able to get one - but yuo have to have a huge income and great credit history to do that.

OP - just ignoe the chip and pin thing. It is something that european cards have that ours don't. But you can use ours anyway. I hve never ha d aproblem.

Just be sure your ATM card is linked to a checking account.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 01:20 PM
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Ah, now I see why some people were so worked up about chip and pin. Well if you can't get them in the USA, it's pointless my recommending them. Good luck. Jent, things might have changed since 2009 ... my experience was in 2011. But as I said, I have never tried using the cards in an ATM - I use them at point of sales terminals. So if anyone can assure us that they had no problem using ATMs in London in 2011, that's settled...and I will in fact use the (good) news myself. Estonia is definitely a strict chip and pin though.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 01:31 PM
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Just a couple pieces of advice
Make sure your ATM card has only a 4 digit PIN. I had a 7 digit PIN on my card and I couldn't use it in Germany. When I got back home I changed it back to a 4 digit.

Whatever Euros you return home with, keep them with your passport for your next trip so you have some money to start with. Once you go the Eurpoe you will want to return.
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