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tracker1312 Oct 12th, 2007 02:09 PM

What *IS* the exchange rate at an ATM?
Does anyone know what kind of exchange rate Bank of America charges at the ATM? I know that if you use an ATM in their network, such as Barclay's that they waive the $5 fee. I'm going to the UK in two weeks, and I've talked to three customer service reps, and have emailed their online customer service twice and a third time today and I keep getting different answers. No one seems to know anything!

One rep pointed me to the exchange rate on their site that is for getting cash in advance and told me that was it, a whopping 5.5% above the inter-bank rate! Wow. If I wanted to get ripped off I'd exchange money at the airport on arrival.

Has anyone here used a BoA card in the UK at a Barclay's ATM and figured out whether or not they are ripping people off with the exchange rate?


Christina Oct 12th, 2007 02:13 PM

hmm, I've been asking some questions on another thread trying to understand who really is making the markup.

However, in your case, the five percent for getting a "cash in advance" sounds like you are talking about a credit card, and that's just a fee for getting a cash advance, which is a loan on a credit card. It's not an exchange rate thing. If you just mean for the bank to buy euro for you at home and you go fetch it, that is actually a pretty good rate for that service. Five percent isn't really that high for your local bank getting foreign currency for you.

I don't think you'd call using an ATm as getting "cash in advance".

Michael Oct 12th, 2007 02:16 PM

The ATM charge I've noticed is 0.33% above the day's rate using for my benchmark.

That's using my ATM card <b>not</b> asking for a cash advance on my credit card.

janisj Oct 12th, 2007 02:27 PM

&quot;<i>What *IS* the exchange rate at an ATM?</i>&quot;

There is <u>no exchange rate</u> at an ATM. You ask for &pound; you get &pound;. No exchanging going on. The rate is set by your own bank/system once the withdrawal is presented to be taken out of your account.

tracker1312 Oct 12th, 2007 02:38 PM

I'm not talking about a cash advance, I'm talking about using my check card at the ATM. Sorry for the confusion, when I said &quot;cash in advance&quot; I meant getting Pounds before leaving.

And I know that I'm not really exchanging money at the ATM, that it's my bank doing it. I just want to know what that elusive exchange rate is. Why does no one know at BoA? They set the rate! Maybe someone here has traveled recently and paid attention to this?

And with the exchange rate the way it is, 5.5% *is* a lot of money. Over the course of the trip, if the ATM is 1% over the interbank rate as opposed to 5%, I would have an extra $200 to spend. Maybe some people can just throw $200 away and not care, but I'm on a budget. I'd rather buy souvenirs than feed my bank.


EricH Oct 12th, 2007 02:52 PM

The exchange rate is at or just slightly above the interbank wholesale rate at the time when the exchange is made, which no one knows until that very moment, plus whatever service fees they add, usually 1-3 percent.

You won't find a better rate. Someone may come on there and tell you about their credit union or bank that charges lower fees than BofA, but it won't be worth changing banks. Stop stressing over it.

freeman0819 Oct 12th, 2007 03:01 PM

hi tracker. As far as I understand it, the exchange rate you get for your withdrawal is ever changing. What I mean is- you would be subject to the applicable exchange rate on the particular day the transaction hits your BOA account. A better question for you to ask BOA is- what is today's dollar to pound exchange rate? That would give you a ballpark figure to work with.

You are correct about the Barclay's withdrawal fee waiver.

janisj Oct 12th, 2007 03:08 PM

No matter what the &quot;rate&quot; is you would not end up w/ $200 more to spend.

An ATM is the cheapest way to get cash. Whether it costs $20 over the course of a trip, or $200 - any other method would cost you more.

But just how much cash are you talking about anyway?? Unless you plan on spending thousands in cash your ATM fees will not be large - EVEN at BofA.

Not worth fretting over IMHO . . . . .

Andrew Oct 12th, 2007 03:12 PM

EricH: <i>You won't find a better rate. Someone may come on there and tell you about their credit union or bank that charges lower fees than BofA, but it won't be worth changing banks. Stop stressing over it.</i>

Yeah, I'm one of those people recommending his credit union. I'm in Italy now and have made two ATM withdrawals. They've charge me a 1% conversion rate fee (a separate debit on my statement for each ATM withdrawal, so I can see the exact amount). I calculated the conversion rate on each day and it is 0.2% or less difference from what I found on for those days - assuming they are using a slightly different method of rate calculation (one of the days the difference was 0.03% so very close).

And no ATM fees from either the ATMS here or from my credit union - sweet!

We've had this thread before, but I really can't see a reason to stick with a conventional back if you have the choice to join a credit union (not everyone can, but most people can). All a regular bank does is charge higher fees while offering the same basic services. Banks are for-profit businesses who are not making a large percentage of their profits from these fees alone. If you like fattening their profits, be my guest.

Jolie Oct 12th, 2007 03:12 PM

I can't imagine doing it any more cheaply than going the ATM route.

I posted this on another thread:

We recently returned from London and was pleased with using the ATMs for cash.

My credit union told me before we left that they could not control any fees the ATM owners could levy, but we never encountered a machine that charged an extra fee, so that worked out ok.

Our own credit union charges a $1 fee when we use a non-credit union ATM, but they refunded this fee when I returned (as was promised by the credit union before I left).

The exchange rate the credit union used was $2.03 for each pound - I don't know whether that included an additional charge or adjustment to the official exchange rate because I don't know what the exchange rate for that particular day was anyway. But it seemed pretty fair, and I am satsified with going this route (ATM).

Henry Oct 12th, 2007 03:37 PM



Travelnut Oct 12th, 2007 03:59 PM

tracker, you are confusing the exchange rate with the conversion fees, I think. All ATM traffic is exchanged at an interbank rate, you can get very close by just using a currency calculator on Yahoo!Finance...
At that point, all users are getting the same 'deal'.

The extra charges come into play in three parts:

1. Visa or Mastercard network - they pass a 1% fee to your bank for converting from &euro; to $ (or whatever fits). Your bank can choose to pass this 1% on to you (or not).

2. Your bank chooses to add an extra 1,2% to that of #1 for &quot;foreign transaction fee&quot;

3. Your bank chooses to charge you $x for using an ATM outside your bank's network (European banks do not charge you for using their ATM). Bank of America has a partnership with ?? bank in Europe, so if you use that bank's ATM, then BOA will not charge you the fee. Otherwise, BOA will charge you $x.

So the best you can do is choose the bank (or credit union or brokerage firm...) that adds on the LEAST of the above charges.

P_M Oct 12th, 2007 07:55 PM

I used my BofA card at Barclay's in the UK. When I got home I looked up the closing exchange rate for the dates I used it and I was charged a 1% markup.

tracker1312 Oct 14th, 2007 02:42 PM

Actually, over the course of two weeks I will be spending *thousands* I'm paying for our accomadations and everything in cash.

And BoA is telling me that to get cash out of an ATM that it's the rate on their site which is marked up 5% over the interbank rate and that there's a 3% charge tacked on to that. I don't know that they know what they're talking about, or who to believe. I've talked to a bunch of different people and no one gives me the same answer. Methinks I'm going to check out another bank.

P_M Oct 14th, 2007 02:52 PM

tracker, that sounds more like the rate you will pay to order currency from BofA and get it here in the US, not what you will get from an ATM.

janisj Oct 14th, 2007 02:54 PM

That is simply ridiculous.

But as has been mentioned many times on many thread - the next US-based bank customer service agent who know what s/he is talking about when it comes to foreign -- will be the <u>first</u> one.

8% - that is plain nutty. Now - for buying &pound; in the States 7%-8% is about right. Go w/ your Bof A ATM card and use Barclay's machines and you will be just fine.

janisj Oct 14th, 2007 02:56 PM

was posting the same time a P_M - I didn't mean her post was &quot;ridiculous&quot; :) (meant the 3% plus 5% being ridiculous)

But we agree - they were not talking about ATM costs.

P_M Oct 14th, 2007 03:53 PM

I knew what you meant, janis. ;-)

tracker, this article was posted on another thread but I think it will be of interest to you. If you scroll down a bit you'll find the part about BofA and how there are no fees for ATM w/d's from a partner bank.

virgi Oct 14th, 2007 04:38 PM

Very same question I asked on a call to Bof Am. yesteday. They said 3%. Me, myself, I just drew out the cash today from my bank account, &amp; I'm going to the bank, exchange the dollars for Euros &amp; hope for the best.For me, it's too confusing to do it any other way. Good luck to you.

jsmith Oct 14th, 2007 05:55 PM

There are two parts to the &quot;exchange rates&quot; The first is the rate which VISA (or Mastercard) sets which you can find at:

Quoting from the site:

&quot;Exchange Rates

Currencies fluctuate every day. The rate shown is effective for
transactions submitted to Visa on October 14, 2007.

1 British Pound = 2.04 US Dollars&quot;

The second part of the rate is the ATM fee your bank charges for use of a foreign ATM plus a percentage of the transaction which may be 0% (getting rare) or 1 to 3% more often.

BTW, every credit and debit card comes with an explanation of the foreign exchange policy. Who ever reads those?

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