What if you've never used an ATM?

Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 07:16 AM
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What if you've never used an ATM?

Okay, in most respects we are very progressive people, but neither my husband nor I have ever had the need to use an ATM. It seems like everything I read about handling payments in Europe involves using one...is that because it's cheaper than exchanging money or using credit cards?
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 07:19 AM
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The best options are to use credit cards for many purchases, and ATM cards to get what cash you need. Credit cards are fine for many/most uses as you normally would at home.

Exchanging money or using travelers checks to get your cash - and every one needs at least some currency - is expensive. ATM cards get you the best exchange rate and are the least hassle. Whether you should get an ATM card for your checking account is your decision. If you are only going to need pocket money and rely 90% on credit cards, then you can just take some US$ (assuming you are from the States) and exchange them at banks as you need. It will cost more - but you are not talking big numbers over a short trip.

I personally WOULD get an ATM card and practice using it before leaving home -- but if you don't one isn't a big deal.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 07:25 AM
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It is easier and may be less expensive than changing money in a bank or money booth. ATM's are becoming more ubiquitous and safer.

Credit cards are important for the larger purchases. Local cash is important for the minor stuff.

How do you get cash now? (I assume you are in the US).
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 07:28 AM
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ira
 
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Hi f,

>is that because it's cheaper than exchanging money ....

Yes

Use your cc when possible. Use ATMs to get cash.

Get and ATM card from your bank and learn how to use it before you go.



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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 07:29 AM
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If you're going to Europe, I would definitely suggest you go get ATM cards, and start using them - and explain that you're going to be traveling. I have one friend that doesn't use an ATM, but she goes to the bank every time she needs cash - I could never do that, it irritates me to even receive a check and have to deposit it.... Good luck!!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 07:33 AM
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Thanks for the quick responses...we'll get an ATM and learn to use it before we go. This site is just an amazing resource!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 07:41 AM
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I'm going to get lots of flack, but so what? It works for US!
Exchange lots of money before leaving home...dollars to euros OR pounds etc! Pay hotels there with a credit card and other big purchases,,,and when you run out of cash, THEN go to ATM to supplement.(find a secure one, perhaps in a bank entrance, and one where there aren't people hovering around behind you, and an ATM that is in working order!)
Never hurts to have the ATM card..even if used rarely. We never use one at home.
Yes, our method involves carrying around a lot of euro in Europe...but we enjoy the convenience of getting euro before leaving home. (and it works for us)
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 07:41 AM
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Well, it can be cheaper than using credit cards or exchanging money, but that depends upon what your bank charges you. Many offer the same poor rates for exchange that they would for a credit card and others will charge fees for using other ATMs.

The bigger issue is that it saves you time and risk. Using an ATM is simply faster and easier than changing money. And you don't need to carry large amounts of cash or cash instruments. And you aren't tied to bank or exchange shop hours. Yes, you could use travelers checks, but they are an absolute rip-off: you will be charged money to buy them and then you will get an inferior exchange rate when you redeem them. Quite simply, they have outlived their usefulness.

Even credit cards can be problematic in Europe. Many countries have switched to PIN-based authentication systems and it can be hit-or-miss if the clerk knows how to process the payment with a signature. I've especially found this to be the case in places like supermarkets where the staff tend to younger and/or less professional than at an upscale department store or the like.

My suggestion is to get your ATM card and just figure out how to use it. It is so darn easy you will probably be a little embarrassed that it has taken you this long to do it. Just remember to use a 4-digit pin for the widest compatability.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 07:47 AM
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To each his own, mari, but I wouldn't carry any more cash with me when I'm traveling than I would when at home. Just don't understand the need for it, when you consider that CCs are widely accepted and ATMs are ubiquitous and easy to use.

But, hey, as you said: It works for you.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 10:23 AM
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I'm thinking that once fsufan gets an ATM card, she and her husband will wonder why they ever did without them for so long It is nice not being tied to branch hours, having to wait in line for the teller and all of that.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 11:22 AM
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I agree, each to their own, but I'm astonished that there are people in the westernised world who don't use ATMs. My husband and I have not been inside a bank to withdraw money in years, why would you when you can go to a machine that is quicker and easier?

One thing you might want to think about beforehand is how much you want to withdraw in foreign currency. For example, you might know you want US$400 but do you know how much that is in euros, because that is what you need to key into the ATM. The travellers foreign currency cheatsheet on www.oanda.com is very useful to print out and take with you. We use them all the time. You are generally charged by the bank per withdrawal so we always take out the maximum we are comfortable with carrying.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 11:36 AM
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I'm amazed that anyone doesn't have an ATM card. Do you go to the bank all the time to get cash?

The only time I go (4/5 times a year) is when I have to deposit a check for some reason. It's just way too much hassle to be running there all the time when you can get cash in numerous places on every block.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 11:41 AM
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I am amazed, also, but was sort of a late convert to ATMs myself. I didn't use one until around 1992.

I also only go to a bank now when I need to deposit a check for some reason, and save those few up so I only go about three times a year. However, pre-ATM usage, I never went to a bank to withdraw cash, either. Maybe that is what fsufan does (my parents would probably do that, but they lived in a small town and had tons of time on their hands and liked to go downtown just for activity), but you don't have to. I'd just write checks at the grocery store for about $50 over the amount due, and use them to get spending money, basically. I think that was my main source of extra cash, but when I deposited by paycheck, I'd also keep an extra $100 or so out for spending money. If you don't spend a lot of cash (which I didn't), that would last several weeks.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 12:00 PM
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Wow, I have only been inside banks to set up accounts, change my name, or access safety deposit box.

I even deposit checks via the ATM. Is that risky? I never considered that.

I do all my transfers and pay bills online too.

I don't know why, but it's kind of interesting to me to hear how others bank.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 12:13 PM
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Regarding an ATM PIN, be sure to get a 4 digit PIN. If you don't select your own, the bank will assign one to you. Just make sure the PIN doesn't begin with zero if you intend to use it overseas.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 12:21 PM
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I can't imagine not having an ATM or debit card in this day and age. ATMs are so convenient for cash, and purchases can be made with debit or credit cards. I hardly ever write a check anymore. Most of my bills can be paid by direct debit or electronic transfer. With internet banking I no longer have to wait for the monthly statement to balance my checkbook.

Whether at home or abroad, an ATM or debit card is the way to go.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 12:31 PM
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<...is that because it's cheaper than exchanging money or using credit cards?>

in a word... YES
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 01:21 PM
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make sure you check with your bank about using their ATM-- in Europe.

some ATM bank cards are more expensive than others (if you don't use your own bank's ATM machine you can get fees assessed from your bank and the other bank). I recommend Bank of America because theirs eliminates the transaction fees if you use their "sister" banks -- in England it is Barclays, and France BPN.


I understand Capital One has an ATM card that also has no fees to use ATM's overseas.

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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 01:56 PM
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Where did you get that information about Capital One having ATM cards without any fees?

They are not a regular bank, and don't have checking accounts except in a couple states where they bought out some other bank (I think Texas is one). So maybe if you lived there, you could get one. Their MM ATM cards do have fees to use them abroad, as I have one.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 01:57 PM
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FSUfan1, we weren't ATM people either. Our bank is closer (13 miles) than the nearest ATM (we live in the country). Originally we got an ATM card for US travel, but it's really handy in France. We withdraw Euros on arrival and then every few days as we need them, tapering off toward the end of our trip. ATMs are everywhere in France.

Cash is good because smaller B&Bs won't take a credit card. Cash makes shopping, buying gas, paying tolls, and eating at a restaurant easier. And it's pay as you go--no shock when next month's credit card bill arrives.

Our credit union doesn't charge an ATM fee and the exchange rate has been good.

It's important to remember that for every Euro you withdraw, your bank account at home will be reduced by maybe 50% more--$1.45 or whatever the Euro is valued at that day (I've been afraid to look lately), plus a possible surcharge, plus a possible fee.

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