Italy and debit cards, True or False

Jun 12th, 2008, 12:38 PM
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Italy and debit cards, True or False

My sister is speaking to her bank which is the Bank of America. A customer service rep just told her that Italy ATMs do NOT accept US debit cards now. Does anyone know if that's true? Thanks in advance.
zwho is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 12:51 PM
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I just got back from Italy and while the Italian ATMS DO accept US debit cards, three people in our group had BOA cards and they all got shut off. Even though these people had all notified BOA in advance, they had to call and get them to reactivate the card. I know at least one day when someone tried to call the "toll-free international number" was not even working at BOA. It was a giant pain in the you-know-what.

On the other hand, we had no problems at all and no fees with our Schwab debit card which is through Visa. We do get charged 1% by Visa, but that's the case with any debit card or credit card. Schwab refunded us all the ATM fees.
KateH123 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 01:05 PM
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Maybe BofA, but Wells Fargo was not a problem a 3 weeks ago.

Just out of curiosity, why not? Seems strange.
copain1 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 01:08 PM
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Just back from Italy and I second Kate's reply -

I have a Capital One debit card with a Pulse designation on the back - 4 digit PIN - and I had no problems getting cash in Milan, Bologna, or Bellagio. Husband also has a Cap One debit card and he had no problems either. We both called the bank and credit card companies in advance to let them know we would be using the cards in Italy.

I have checked my statement since returning. I had a great exchange rate - close to interbank rate - and a $1.50 ATM fee for each withdrawal. That was NO 1% or 2% surcharge. Can't beat that. Purchases on my Capital One VISA credit card were also close to interbank rates.

This is the 3rd time I've used a Cap One debit card in Europe and I've never had a problem.
drbb is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 02:12 PM
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I don't think this is totally goofy -- as I recall, there were some posts on Fodors about certain debit cards not being accepted in Italy and BofA might be one of them. So maybe that rep was just talking about her bank, of course, as that's the one you were asking about. I know sometimes they make up total stories, so maybe their story is that Italy ATMs won't accept any debit card, but I think it is a problem with BofA.

There was some bank that had a problem in Spain, also, as I recall. I forget which end was doing it -- the bank or the other country, but it had something to do with too much fraud on a particular kind of card, I think. Or maybe some banks like BofA put in their own measures as they think those countries are risky.
Christina is online now  
Jun 12th, 2008, 02:14 PM
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US Bank worked two weeks ago.
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 02:59 PM
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US bank customer service reps very seldom know what they are talking about. In fact they are next to useless.

There are no ATMs in Italy that accept BofA cards fee-free. But using BofA cards in any ATM will work just like any other bank's cards. (As long as the card has visa and Plus/Cirrus logos like the vast majority of ATM cards.)

There was a temporary cessation of card access many months ago for a fraud problem (this also happened in Spain). But, yes a BofA ATM card works in Italy.
janisj is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 03:28 PM
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My experience is that low level bank phone clerks in the US have really no idea about international banking.

If you are curious, call back and ask the EXACT same question to 10 different phone reps and see how many different answers you get.

J62 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 03:40 PM
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I just traveled extensively throughout Italy, stopping at ATM's along the way (sadly, I kept running out of cash). Some ATM's worked and some did not. I had the most luck using ATM's at their national banks, such as Banca Populare di Milano, and I always tried to seek them out, if possible.

On two separate occasions, the entire network seemed to be unavailable to everyone, including the Italians.

Best advice is not to wait until you are bone dry to take cash out of the bank, just in case the system is not working. This seems to happen to me every time I travel to Italy.
wannagetaway is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 05:23 PM
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In Italy a few weeks ago and ATM machines were definitely hicupping
everywhere. Best to arrive with some
Euros and then as the previous post
said do not wait til you need additional funds. One person mentioned
something about the pin being imbedded in the card etc. in another case
at the Milan airport the ATM had been
down for 4 days....etc.
lupinelady is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 05:30 PM
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This sounds like something Bank of America is doing - not the Italian ATMs. To play it safe I would make sure you have an ATM card with access to funds from another bank. (Have't been to Italy in the last several months - but have used Citibank ATMs cards in several countries with no problems at all.)
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 06:51 PM
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Italy is one country that many credit unions block from debit/ATM card usage. Evidently there is a high(er) level of fraud occurring there.
Travelnut is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 07:16 PM
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I bank with BofA and you can't always trust what the first person says - beyond that, I did have a few problems in Italy using either my debit card or credit cards. There were some days when one just wouldn't go through, but it was fine the next day. I also know that lately here in this country Visa and MC have been running some fraud protection things and randomly declining charges on perfectly good cards. You just need to be prepared with a backup credit card when in Italy.
sheri_lp is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 08:45 PM
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The person I spoke to at my bank before a trip gave me her e-mail address & said if I had a problem with my ATM card to just e-mail her but NOT include my acct. #. That would be much easier than trying to connect by phone considering the time difference. I also gave her a print-out of where I would be when.
Marsh is offline  
Jun 13th, 2008, 01:06 AM
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i had no problems using dbeit cards in italy, but have a curious situation currently in UK. My ATM/Debit card is accepted at any ATM of a proper bank (barclays, Lloyds, Abbey, HSBC, etc), but I can NEVER get any money from independent ATM, like you find in convenience stores, delis, etc. I can't figure out the problem. I checked the signs they display for which networks and all match to what I have on my card. Weird, and it's first time I ran into this problem. So, i just look for actual bank branches to use the ATM.
lerasp is offline  
Jun 13th, 2008, 07:51 AM
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Wouldn't that be a better idea, anyway, to use a bank ATM? Those private ATMs charge you their own fees for using them, I believe, and banks do not. After all, if they are private, the only reason they exist is to make money, so they can only do that by charging fees.
Christina is online now  
Jun 13th, 2008, 09:48 AM
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Ok, so I just checked my statement and we did not get a 1% charge from Visa as I thought. The exchange rate we got was exactly the posted rate for the day. I definitely would recommend Schwab for international ATMs!!!
KateH123 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2008, 12:22 PM
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We used our BoA debit card to in Italy last month. As a previous poster mentioned, after a few days it stopped working due to a fraud alert even though we had called ahead to let them know we would be traveling. We had to call and it was fine and never a problem after that. Just make sure you have the appropriate phone number to call. It was not a big hassle, one call and it was fixed.

I can't remember exactly, but it may be that BoA does not have any partner banks in Italy, so the fees may be higher, but we used our cards in numerous ATMs.
Ninkette is offline  

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