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Up-to-date ATM (vs. debit) card info, please

Up-to-date ATM (vs. debit) card info, please

Old May 12th, 2010, 04:11 PM
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Up-to-date ATM (vs. debit) card info, please

I have an "ATM-only" card that ties into a credit union (CU) savings account only. The networks it lists on the back are NWCU Alliance, Co-op, and Cirrus. From reading here, I was under the impression that what I need to use an European ATM is a (debit?) card that would pull money from my checking account, not my savings account...and possibly should have a Visa or Mastercard tie-in.

I asked at the CU information desk and the gentleman there said that I should have no trouble using the ATM-only card I already have overseas...but then said that his had worked in Canada and Mexico and he hadn't tried it elsewhere.

I searched the forum and found some old threads about ATM vs. debit card acceptance...I didn't see anything recent, or I maybe missed it. Does anyone have any more recent info on whether an ATM-only card (with those networks) that takes money from my savings account will work in an ATM machine in Spain, France, or Italy? There's no charge for me to open a CU checking account and get a full debit card -- I just don't need another checking account otherwise, so I thought I'd ask.

Thanks!
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Old May 12th, 2010, 04:22 PM
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Yes, an ATM card with Cirrus works for us in all those
countries plus more. Just tie it into your chequing account
and let yur CU know where you'll be using it.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 04:26 PM
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You may disregard this thread -- though I admit I'm still curious about the answer. I called my credit union and talked with someone I hope is more knowledgeable. She said that there's no guaranty that an ATM-only card would be accepted and advised me to bite the bullet, open a checking account, and get the debit card. (You'd think the guy at their information desk would have known that, too. Oh, well.) Thanks anyway.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 04:28 PM
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immimi, thanks for the info! The trouble was that I didn't have a checking account to tie this card to. So I just opened one.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 05:19 PM
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I have found that stateside bank/CU employees almost NEVER know anything about foreign currency/ATMs/cards/fees/anything.

If you call again and talk to someone else-- you'll likely get yet another answer.

If your card is linked to the Cirrus system, it will work in a machine linked to the Cirrus system.

European ATMs will take money from the primary account --since the savings is your primary (in your case,your ONLY acct) it will work.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 05:51 PM
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A BofA rep told me the same thing: an ATM card linked to a savings account SHOULD work in France -- it did not. Luckily, I thought he was clueless, so I had two other debit cards linked to checking accounts.

The reason for the failure had nothing to do with primary of not. It was primary, it was the only account. It had to do with the type of transaction the ATM machine did to my account. It did a demand draft access. A savings account could not do this type of transaction.

I travel to Europe with no fewer than two debit cards linked to checking accounts in two different banks.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 05:54 PM
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I have had my ATM only card refused in machines which accepted my debit cards in Italy (and in Portugal, although that country isn't mentioned in this post).
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Old May 12th, 2010, 06:29 PM
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It will work if the savings account is your PRIMARY account. If your primary account is a checking account and your savings account is linked to that, it will not work. At foreign ATMs, you have no choice of accounts. The transaction defaults to your PRIMARY account.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 06:54 PM
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What is true is that with European ATM's you don't get a choice which account to withdraw from...whether it's a vanilla ATM card or a debit card. If you have an ATM card which is tied in to a savings account with a cirrus logo, as long as the ATM has a cirrus logo, it will or I should say it should work...as noted above it's the PRIMARY account where the money will come out from.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 10:08 PM
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I have had ATM-only cards in the past and now have bank and credit union debit cards. My CU ATM card used to be savings only. The current CU debit card is checking & savings. My bank ATM/debit cards were/are checking only. All have worked in Europe for at least the last 15 years.

Have they worked every single time-- nope. There are the odd glitches, but every card has worked on every trip.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 07:17 AM
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I definately wouldn't depend on one ATM card - after seeing
a friend's card vanish into the slot I have current primary
chequing accounts with two different institutions. Dh has
yet another card. All tie in with Cirrus and Plus. Such
an easy sensible way to access money - wouldn't do it any
other way.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 08:12 AM
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Ok, what's a ATM only card? My ATM card has a "visa" logo on it and can be used any where the visa symbol is displayed, along with a ATM machine. it is tied into my savings account.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 09:15 AM
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An "ATM only" card is just what it sounds like. It can only be used in an ATM to withdraw cash. It cannot be used to make purchases. A debit card can be used as an ATM card and can also be used to make purchases.

I have used my ATM only card in both France and Italy without any problem - and one of those cards was tied to a savings account only. But I always take two cards with me just in case because you never know.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 09:16 AM
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A card with a VISA logo is most likely a debit card, which can be used for withdrawals at an ATM and also for purchases (just like a credit card, but the funds are immediately deducted from your account).

An ATM only card can be used only for ATM withdrawals.

The difference? An ATM card requires a PIN for withdrawals. A debit card requires a PIN for withdrawals, but not for purchases. If your debit card is lost/stolen, your balance can be quickly wiped out - without your PIN. All can be sorted out eventually, but probably not during your travels.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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janis is so right, as I know from my 11 years of banking. Being a traveller I was more knowledgeable than most tellers, as the others only knew what bank officials told them and they had no first-hand experience.

Regarding regular ATM cards vs debit cards--the regular ATM card is NOT as good as a debit card. I learned the hard way in Belgium when not a single ATM machine would take my regular ATM card. For the first time in years I had to exchange US$ for €'s and of course I got tattooed on the exchange rate. Upon my return from that trip I was told you MUST have a debit card in Belgium as well as a few other countries. Furthermore the Visa Debit card will work in just about any ATM machine while the regular ATM card will work in just certain machines.

Get a Visa Debit card.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 09:51 AM
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Wouldn't it be better to bring cash.. I'm bring cash.. and now I nto sure if I want to bring more cash.. becuz this whoel ATM issue is confusing.. and the rates aren't that good esp with the transactions fee BOA charges
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Old May 13th, 2010, 09:57 AM
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cali88,

Sure you could bring cash but you will pay thru the nose on the exchange. Furthermore, do you want to carry all of your cash around throughout the trip? BOA does have partner banks in Europe where there are no fees, but if you are not going to one of those countries then check around for a credit union. I have a credit union acct I use only for travel. Using that acct the markup on ATM withdrawals is only 1% and the flat fee is $1. That's a heck of a lot cheaper than exchanging cash.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 10:03 AM
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"Wouldn't it be better to bring cash.. I'm bring cash.. and now I nto sure if I want to bring more cash.. becuz this whoel ATM issue is confusing.. and the rates aren't that good esp with the transactions fee BOA charges"

cali88: No -- it definitely would not be better to just bring cash. The rates you get w/ an ATM withdrawal are much better than you get exchanging cash.

Plus-- you have BofA which does not charge ANY fee at all if you use their partner banks. In Paris that would be BNP Paribas which is all over the city.

If you bring cash to exchange, factoring in exchange rates/fees, you will lose between 10% and 12% or more on your money.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 10:39 AM
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I didn't realize cali88 is going to Paris. I was there a few years ago and BNP Paribas ATMs are everywhere. You will get a very good exchange by using BNP Paribas and you will pay NO FEES. Bringing cash would be a very poor choice indeed.

cali88, be sure to notify BOA in advance you will be using your card in France so they won't flag it for irregular activity. ATM use is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to exchange--period, end of story.

If you have any other questions about ATM use we will be happy to answer.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 11:00 AM
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This is complicated. I now have ATMs, CCs, cash and trav. checks spinning in my head
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