Money questions

Old Apr 9th, 2011, 05:58 AM
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Money questions

We are traveling for almost a month in Egypt and then a month in Greece. Usually on prior trips we take cash and use credit card whenever we can. Prior trips have been no more than 1 month total. I don't feel entirely comfortable taking cash for the 2 months.

My problem. Living in western NY state only banks in my area that have partners in Europe (Greece/Egypt) are HSBC. The person I talked to said there was a location in Athens which is fine but we are also traveling around the Peloponnese and the islands. Are there ATMs where one could use a debit card from HSBC bank to withdraw cash other than Athens?

I have a Capital One credit card which has the Visa logo but not the Cirrus on the back. My other credit cards -visa and master card-do have the cirrus logo on the back. Will there be any problems with the Capital One?

Thanks.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 06:57 AM
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Chris, I just gave a loooong answer to queries about ATM cards & CC cards on the Europe forum. Alas, your query is different enough that I cannot cut & Paste:

(1) Use of Capital One CC -- why the heck don't you just call them up an ask??? (answer -of course you cannot CALL Cap One, it is in cyber-space... that's why I use bricks & mortar banks). ANyway, you could try e-mailing .... I thought they had to have either Cirrus or Plus logo.. do they hve a PLUS logo?? That is another interbank system accepted all over Europe.

(2) TAKING CASH -- I hope you don't mean, taking a bundle of $$ and using exchange bureaus at each country to get the local currency! You get such an AWFUl exchange rate that way! Right now, the $$ is falling like a stone ... today 1 Euro costs $1.44 at BEST rate ... so you don't want to make that worse. An xchange bureau would charge $1.50++ per Euro. INstead take $100-200 cash just as a back-up, and hit the ATMs as soon as u arrive.

(3) ATM Cards --This "partners in Europe" thing is beside the point, if you are lucky enough to have a TD bank in your area. of course you are vague about location "western NY State" so I cannot say right here, but this link gives locations: http://www.usbanklocations.com/td-bank-new-york.htm If any of these banks is at all near you -- RUN do not WALK, to open an account just for your travel abroad. This darling (Canadian) bank charges NO % fee, and NO transaction fee for up to 10 transactions per month. I have an account just for my 1 Trip per year. If you aren't near a TD, You can also look at this website for other banks that have minimal fees for ATM usage: http://tinyurl.com/yco2od2

(4)CREDIT CARDS -- Charges for using your credit card may be immaterial to you. However, u should be aware that when u are abroad -- unless you are paying a premium for some high-end CC ("super-platinum or Sapphire - or whatever), the plain ordinary "vanilla" credit cards charge you a percentage of each purchase, usually 3%. Yes I know, this is unlike the US. Why do they do it? Because they can; thus a $500 hotel bill = $15 add-on.
Reasons for using a credit card that charges such a fee? (a) you don't have the $$ in bank to pay as u go, so you're borrowing on your CC to pay off in installments (b) for a major purchase like jewelry or designer stuff, to have a recourse if something's wrong or (c) you are affluent enough that you just don't care. Many people say "but using my CC gives me Reward Points!" Yes... at a 1% rate. But the fee = 3%. Result = 2% loss. Not much, but do not think you are getting something for nothing, as in US.

(5) TIPS for CARD USAGE for convenience/prudence (u probably already do all these):
• Tell yr bank you will be withdrawing in Europe between (date) and (date); otherwise an ATM use will make them think yr card was stolen & they'll freeze your account
• Ask them to raise yr daily limit (usually $500) to $750 or $1,000 -- esp. important with the awful current exchange rate. U won't use $1,000 per day.. just means fewer visits to ATM.
NOTE -- I do these 2 in person, & watch the bank staffer enter into computer.
• Rather than use free-standing ATMs, I use ones attached to a bank & during banking hours. Just prudence; if there's a glitch or I goof, I can go inside & have bank staff deal with it.
• If u are a couple, BOTH of you should have a card on each account you have.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 06:59 AM
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There's ATMs all over Greece that will all take your debit card & not charge. Check with your own bank as to any charges they make.
Don't use your credit card for getting cash, only purchases, preferably larger ones. Cash is king in Greece & cards won't be accepted much outside high tourist areas, especially for small transactions or by a small establishment.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 07:01 AM
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Forgot to add:
(1) Besides my TD ATM card, I have a Credit Union ATM card... AND even my greedy Wells Fargo ATM card. Never had to use them, but it makes me feel secure.
(2) Regarding using ATM attached to bank during banking hours, also never had anything happen, have just heard from other people who did something inadvertent and had their card "eaten" by an ATM. Because they were at an open bank, they could get it taken care of.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 07:04 AM
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You don't have to use a partner bank's ATMs. I have a MasterCard debit card issued by an American bank, live in the UK, and use it everywhere I travel in Europe (and Australia) to draw money from my checking account. When I travel to Greece, the only money I bring with me is leftover euros from my last trip. I've never had problems drawing out cash anywhere, using any bank's ATM, whichever is handy. Nearly every Greek island and mainland town has at least one ATM, and even little Antiparos has at least three or four.

You will not be charged by Greek banks for your ATM withdrawals, but your US bank will probably levy transaction fees (mine doesn't). In addition, there is usually a 1% foreign transaction fee charged by Visa and MasterCharge.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 07:31 AM
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Be sure to notify your bank of your intention to use your cards out of the States. Be advised that using a credit card for ATM withdrawls results in cash withdrawl fees and a higher interest rate, so be sure you're using an ATM card.

If you want another no-fee card, open an account with Charles Schwab.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 07:42 AM
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Clarification, because of Heimdall's excellent post. THREE possible ATM fees involved:

(1) The "foreign transaction fee" = Foreign exchange fee = FOREX. This is charged by VIsa & Mastercharge for acting as Clearinghouse. Usually bundled into the exchange rate. ONly a couple of banks (Cap One checking + a few others) "eat" this fee... so, live with it.

(2) Per-Transaction fee. As noted, $5 (or more). A flat fee no matter how much u withdraw.

(3) A Percentage Fee (I call this the "Greed Fee") charged in ADDITION, by many big banks -- some as much as 3%. Wells Fargo charges $5 per transaction + 3%. So $300 worth of Euros will cost you $14 to obtain. Highway robbery!!
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 08:45 AM
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Hi Jan,

Now I've got you calling it Mastercharge! Sorry, I meant MasterCard. lol!
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 12:57 PM
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Jan-I found TD in Niagara Falls, Canada. That's the closest to me. I live south of Buffalo, NY so the NY branches are far away. Could I as a US citizen open the account in NF, Canada?? Or is it only for Canadians at the Canada branches?
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 01:39 PM
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With the Capital One credit card there should be no foreign currency fees. This is what I always use for purchases abroad. The others can be used as backup. And you can certainly call Capital One; just because they have no buildings does not mean they have no telephone lines. However, I have found that calling any bank with specific questions about using credit cards abroad you can very well get incorrect information.

Just be sure that you are not using your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM. That is something that should only be done in an emergency, as the interest charges kick in as soon as you withdraw the funds and it is a very expensive way to get cash. Only an ATM or debit card should be used to get cash from an ATM.

For cash abroad, I use a debit card from Charles Schwab, which has no foreign currency fee.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 01:41 PM
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And I should add, the Charles Schwab card does not charge for ATM use in any ATM, either in the US or abroad.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 03:40 PM
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Nikki nobody should use a Capital One Credit card for cash that becomes a Cash Advance = a loan. I thought that Capital One also had online CHECKING account.

Niikki, is it possible to use Charles Schwab if you do not do any stock trading, ie.e can you open an actual checking account wth CS - -- I don't think so.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 03:52 PM
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Chris -- I don't know about Canada, I wouldn't think so. I suggest you telephone any of the US major branches and ask if you could open an account via Mail?? As long as y ou live in NY State you are allowed to bank at TD and I'm sure some depositors work only by mail. I forget what your trip dates are, but I'm sure you have time if you act promptly. Just sit on the phone till you get your answers. I personally think the telephone is a wonderful instrument -- half the misunderstandings in modern day transactions arise from trying to do everything online.

Good luck!
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 04:03 PM
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Yes you can open a Schwab checking account without doing any trading. You get it automatically when you set up a brokerage account but there is no rule you have to trade. You can transfer the money in the brokerage account online to the checking account. I do it all the time. You can also link those accounts to accounts in other banks so you can transfer between them.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 04:54 PM
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Travelerjan, as I said above, nobody should use any credit card for cash at an ATM. The OP said he or she has a Capital One credit card, not a checking account.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 06:08 PM
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Chris,

1. Find out from HBSC what they charge for ATM usage out of the USA. This may depend on what type of account or accounts you have at HSBC. If possible find out how you can get an account at HSBC where you wont be charged for withdrawing money from banks overseas

Unlike the USA, I dont think the EU banks charge ATM withdrawal fees. However that does not mean that your own local HSBC bank wont charge you a fee. Also nearly all banks in NY/USA will charge you a foreign currency conversion fee. It is usually 3 percent. Its up to you to figure out whether you want to open a bank account some where to avoid that fee.

2. Do not use your credit card at the ATM . This amounts to a loan and you will be charged huge fees for this ..it can be 18 percent or higher.

3. You can use your credit card, if it is accepted, to pay for hotels or more expensive items.but you will need to have local currency to pay for smaller things.

4. Credit card companies all charge a standard 3 percent transaction fee for foreign currency charges with a few exceptions .. you can apply for credit cards that do not have these fees such as capital one credit card(you do not need to bank with capital one ) Again its up to you to decide if you want another credit card.

5. Pin numbers... you need to have numbers no combinations of letters and numbers . so if you use a combo pin here, change it before you leave and make sure it works

6. if your ATM/debit card is PLUS (or Cirrus) it will be OK that is used widely in Europe.

7. before you leave let your bank and your credit card companies know that you will be traveling .. give the countries and dates so that they do not put a freeze on the account.

8. use all of the same precautions you would at home when taking money out of an atm .
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 08:12 PM
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Maxima, you are giving incorrect info. The 3% that banks charge is NOT for conversion. That is already covered by the 1% FOREX (foreign exchange) fee imposed by Mastercard or Visa for acting a currency clearinghouse. The 3% that most large banks charge is because they CAN.

BrotherLee, thanks for explaining a good ploy. One can open a brokerage account online with Schwab & put money into it even tho one may never plan to buy stocks with it. Then one transfers the money into the checking account that comes along with it as a freebie ... a checking account that has an ATM card one can use overseas with NO fees. So clever!! I love it!
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 08:26 PM
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"a checking account that has an ATM card one can use overseas with NO fees. So clever!! I love it!"

Capital One has those too. I have a Cap One credit card - no fees of any kind, and 1% cash back, and also a Cap One interest-bearing checking account, also NO conversion fees, NO fees for use of foreign ATMs, and any fees charged by foreign banks refunded up to $10/month, plus interest.

"The 3% that banks charge is NOT for conversion. That is already covered by the 1% FOREX (foreign exchange) fee imposed by Mastercard or Visa for acting a currency clearinghouse. The 3% that most large banks charge is because they CAN."

Doesn't much matter what you call it. many banks are charging 3%. Credit Unions generally charge 1% (passing the Mastercard/Visa charge through). Capital One doesn't charge anything, "eating" the 1% fee. Apparently (according to posts on the Asia board) some affinity cards are starting to follow Capital One's example.
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Old Apr 10th, 2011, 05:14 AM
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I agree with you, thursday, the Cap One Checking account is -- like the Schwab one -- the best deal of the online banks.

About the others, the "bricks & mortar banks", my understanding is that those biggie banks are charging 3% ON TOP of the 1% Forex fee. Whatever it is, it's unjustified.

The important thing is that travelers get over the mistaken idea that "foreign ATMs are charging me to use them." Not at all. They are no-fee. Any charges come from your own bank.

Bottom line: Educate yourself, find the best deal, if necessary open an account strictly for travel purposes ... have a back-up card on another account, notify all banks/accounts of travel plans, get the daily withdrawal limits raised. If during your trip you plan to obtain $2,000 in cash, using a "greedy-bank" ATM card could cost you upwards of $80.
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Old Apr 10th, 2011, 05:21 AM
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The best advice I ever got from this forum was to use a Schwab card for travel - perhaps from brotherleelove. No fees at the ATMs. I only use the card for travel so last trip I forgot my pin and it was a hassle as you can only get a new one via snail mail. However, you can try three times before they eat your card. Meanwhile - Jan's advice about withdrawing at an open bank is a good one if you have an aging memory and need to get your card back!
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