ATMs & Credit Cards: Minimizing Fees: 2010
Throughout Europe, cash machines and credit cards are the standard way for American travelers to change money or pay for services. You get a much better rate than with traveler's checks but you do pay a fee, usually to your hometown bank or to your card issuer. And ATMs may not be as good a deal, as some overseas ATM vendors and US banks add a 2 percent or so fee to each transaction. How do you minimize fees when using ATMs in Europe? Are they still the best way to change money? Also, any comments about minimizing extra credit card foreign currency conversion fees?
Please Note: ATM and Credit Card fees change frequently. Contact your bank or credit card company for exact, up-to-date information before your trip.
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
NO ATM FEE! :D
I was very pleased to learn that Mountain Pacific Bank actually reverses all ATM fees no matter where they incure. I looked them up and learned that they only have two branches in Washington state. I was excited to find out that they will open accounts for people out of state so long that I get a copy of my ID notarized! I will now use Mountain Pacific Bank as my traveling account. The customer service is above any other bank that I have experienced. There is a big difference between community banks and big ones.
USA Tue 12/14/2010
ATM vs. Travelex Card
For the first time ever I bought a Travelex VISA card before I left for Europe instead of using my ATM. In Spain a Barclays Bank ATM charged me $8.00 for withdrawing $40.00 I needed to get to the airport. Also with the fees included in the exchange rate in my bank it's impossible to tell what fees I was charged by the Eurpoean ATM (my TD Bank charges no fees) After that I am leary of using my ATM which I had always used exclusively since my credit cards charges fees. I spent $2500 for the Travelex VISA Card and got a much better rate .75 on the dollar as opposed to .68 that all the banks were giving[INVALID]so by buying $2500 I got an extra 175 in euros. You do need to spend the $2500 to get that rate but we did get two cards and there were no other fees except a small fee of $1.75 to withdraw from an ATM machine if you wanted euros. We used the card without problem in Italy but you need to keep an accurate account or can check your balance on line which we did at the hotel. They will replace the card if it gets lost or stolen so I felt good about having a large amount of money on hand and not being worried about it getting lost or stolen. The card worked everywhere without incident. We purchased the card at a booth at our local mall which is why I was skeptical but since it was a VISA I tended not to worry too much. The rates were better there than at the Travelex Booth at the airport. I debated about buying this card and there wasn't much info or reviews on line to help me decide. I would absolutely use this method of taking $ to Europe again. The card only comes in Euros and next time I go I would purchase a larger amount and use it for all hotels/restaurants/etc.
Natick, MA USA Fri 12/03/2010
ATM fees in Paris
My partner and I just returned from a two-week stay in Paris. Although we didn't have to withdraw money often, we did find a huge difference in fees between ATMs. Our credit union charged $0.75 per transaction. CIC bank ATMS charged $1.50 per transactions of €300 or less. Another ATM (probably not a bank's) charged $3.21 for a €300 withdrawal.
Wildwood Crest, NJ USA Mon 09/27/2010
I'd like to add my praises for the ATM card I recently got from Mountain Pacific in Lynnwood, WA. I just returned from a 3 week trip to China and used the card without any troubles and when checking my account online from China could see that there were no fees and the rates were good. And their customer service is top notch. I found out about them from this graffiti wall so thanks to whoever posted the initial comment.
Kirkland, WA USA Tue 09/07/2010
It is interesting that nowhere on this site (as far as I can tell) is there any mention of the exchange rate used by say, Bank of America. Bof A states that if you use an ATM of their correspondant bank -BNP Paribas- there is no fee. But what is the exchange rate -the interbank rate? I doubt it. Citibank charges, it says, 3%, Could be better than the BofAs 0% depending on the exchange rates used. Mr. Steves should address this clearly for the majot banks.
USA Fri 09/03/2010
Charge Card Fees and Interest
Citi Mastercard and Schwab Visa both now charge interest on a cash advance AND charge interest on the TOTAL balance of the account, starting the moment you take a Cash Advance. Talk about expensive!
Dallas, TX USA Tue 08/17/2010
atm card and fees
Sounds like a capital one bank account or mm account with an atm card will allow you overseas access with no foreign transaction fees on atm machine withdrawls. But I wonder if they reimburse atm machine fees that the owner or bank of the atm may charge you for using their machine? I know in most of europe atm machines charge no fees, but for example we were in thailand and 99% of atm machines charge a fixed fee of about $2-3 usd per withdrawl. Just curious, maybe someone could enlighten me on capital one's position on reimbursing atm usage fees from other banks. On the other hand, at least out here in washington state, mountain pacific bank in everett, wa reimburses 100% and unlimited and instantaneously any bank atm fees from anywhere in the world and charge zero foreign transaction fees or charges. And you also get the interbank exchange rates on foreign currency translation, so they are not making it up there. I can say this as a fact certain as I have used their atm card extensively overseas in both europe and thailand so far without a hitch over the past year or so. Just me passing along a nice budget tidbit for everyone out there traveling
USA Sat 08/14/2010
Capital One ATM Charges
But that is a capital One CREDIT CARD, used at an ATM. It is never a winning idea anywhere to take cash against a CREDIT CARD, you always pay interest from the day of withdrawal, no grace period. Abroad or stateside, does not matter. Use a Capital One ATM Card, based on a Cap One account. NO Charges. Cap One, unlike other banks, does not care where you take your cash from.
Elkins Park, PA USA Tue 08/03/2010
capital one atm charges
As I understand it, there are no fees to withdraw cash at an ATM with your Capital One credit card but you will be charged 14.80% interest from the day you withdraw the cash. This is different than a purchase where you can avoid any interest if you pay the balance in full before the due date.
Kirkland, WA USA Sun 07/25/2010
Banking in the UK: Barclays and Bank of America
I've just written an entire blog post on this exact subject! Particularly dealing with "cashpoints" in the UK: http://katrichterwrites.wordpress.com/2010/06/page/2/. Basically, if you're going to be spending an extended period of time in the UK, you should open an account with Bank of America (when I opened mine two years ago in preparation for moving to London to pursue my MA, Bank of America was running a promotion where you could open a basic checking account online from the comfort of your own home with no fees). B of A has a reciprocal agreement with Barclays, which is one of the major banks in the UK, whereby you can withdrawn funds without fees. If you're able to open a UK account (ie. if you're a student or someone residing in the UK for an extended period of time), I'd recommend simply withdrawing funds from your B of A account at a cashpoint (which is Brit-speak for ATM) and then depositing the cash directly into your Barclay's account. This way, you can slowly but surely transfer funds from your US account to your UK account without having to pay fees for wiring money. It's not the most sophisticated form of international banking, but sure beats travelers checks and hefty international fees!
Philadelphia, PA USA Sun 07/18/2010
Capital One Works
I want to add m comments on our recent trip regarding CapitalOne. IT WORKS! We opened a Cap One money market account, solely for the cheap ATM. We just did two weeks, Czech Republic and Amsterdam. We used only the ATMs with our Cap One ATM card, and never used any credit cards. We took a total of 25,000 Czech Koruna (4 different dates, 8,000 or so the first 3) and then 350 Euro twice. Going back today and looking at the formal published exchange rates for each day, we find that this money at best exchange rates would have totaled just over $2196 US dollars. The total out of our account was $2207. So this card really is no fees, and almost the exact exchange rates--about 1/2 percent lost.
Elkins Park, PA USA Thu 07/15/2010
Exchange Rate Manipulation
I highly doubt you are going to see Exchange Rate Manipulation from Capital One. They will be sued pronto. I'm on track for getting several thousand dollars back from travel in the late 90's for this...
In re Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation (MDL 1409)
The lawsuit is about the price cardholders of Visa-, MasterCard-, or Diners Club-branded payment cards were charged to make transactions in a foreign currency, or with a foreign merchant, between February 1, 1996 and November 8, 2006. Plaintiffs challenge how the prices of credit and debit/ATM card foreign transactions were set and disclosed, including claims that Visa, MasterCard, their member banks, and Diners Club conspired to set and conceal fees, typically of 1-3% of foreign transactions, and that Visa and MasterCard inflated their base exchange rates before applying these fees. The Defendants include Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Bank of America, Bank One/First USA, Chase, Citibank, MBNA, HSBC/Household, and Washington Mutual/Providian. They deny the Plaintiffs' claims and say they have done nothing wrong, improper, or unlawful.
USA Sun 06/20/2010
ATM Withdrawal Limits
Also be aware that in some places (mainly outside Europe) there are per-transaction withdrawal limits at the ATM which are inconveniently low, which results in per-transaction ATM charges being exorbitantly high. Places in Asia only permit $50 - $80 USD equivalent, which is painful if you are getting hit with $3 per use terminal fees.
USA Sun 06/20/2010
Capital One and Bank of America credit cards
Before I left on this last trip to Europe I checked on my credit cards fees. I was surprised to find two cards I could use in Europe without fees: 1) My Capital One Visa card, and 2) My Bank of America American Express. Because American Express is not as widely accepted as Visa, I primarily used my Visa card and love the excellent customer service at Capital One. They are really becoming one of my favorite credit cards, as opposed to Citi, which told me EVERYONE charges at least 3% foreign transaction fees, which is not true.
San Diego, CA USA Sat 06/19/2010
Just returned from 2 weeks in France and a few days in London. I used several banks ATMs - Societe Generale, Credit Du Nord, BNP Paribus, and Barklays - none charged a fee, and the exchange rate was compatible with I've seen published in the newspaper, and at x-rate. I think the 'trick' with ATM fees is to make sure use an ATM from a brick-and-morter bank.
El Sobrante, CA USA Wed 06/16/2010
I called state farm insurance.i was planning on using their debit card for a trip to Europe. they said there is no foreign transaction fees? only what the other ATM charges. this seems to good to be true. can anyone chime in, if this is true?
Fremont, CA USA Sat 06/12/2010
Exchanging money at banks
Currently in Rome. I have been to 5 banks and NONE will exchange money.
NY, NY USA Fri 06/11/2010
Cash Withdrawal Amounts
When my mother and I arrived in Rome this spring, we had three different ATMs at the airport reject our requests for cash from our checking accounts. We each had separate accounts and debit cards, with the same response from the ATM; along the lines of "foreign card rejected."
We finally obtained the cash we needed from the "brick-and-mortar" bank at the airport. When testing out other ATMs in Rome, the best we could guess was the machines did not like when we requested the amount "Other." We needed a considerable amount of cash to pay for the apartment we were renting that day, so we were requesting higher amounts than the "standard" offered by the ATM. Just as US ATMs typically offer $20 / $40 / $80 / etc., the Roman ATMs had standard amounts too. The standard amounts worked, anything "other" did not.
Scottsdale, AZ USA Thu 06/10/2010
Apples and Oranges
After reading the comments below, I called CapitalOne Credit Card again. After four people and refering to this message board, I got a new response. Brian from below was correct in that the initial response from CapitalOne was from their banking operation, where the 7% add on to the published exchange rate was for exchanging currencies at a branch office. Their representative said that CapitalOne does not add anything to the foreign charge, and there is no foreign transaction fee. She also said that the merchant's bank makes the currency conversion not them.
Cleveland, Ohio USA Fri 05/28/2010
capital one, the bank
In response to the entry below concerning calling Capital One (1-866-457-7472), the writer is confusing apples with oranges.
He called Capital One Bank, not Capital One Credit Card. What he got for the exchange rate is probably correct, but this is the rate that you would get if you went to a Capital One Bank (the bricks and mortor bank) and physically exchanged dollars for euros. Yes, there really are Capital One Bank banks (the bricks and mortar ones) throughout the U.S.
The premium paid of about 7% over true exchange rates is typical if you go to your bricks and mortor bank like Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, etc and physically exchanged dollars for euros. And by the way, this is a lousy way to get foreign currency.
Just thought everybody should know that sometimes reading posts here does not guarantee anything other than being entertained.
USA Wed 05/26/2010
foreign transaction fees
I think all the big mega-banks like boa, chase, wells fargo,keybank, etc all charge foreign transaction fees on both their atm/debit and credit cards. that includes withdrawls from atms, debit use of the debit card or credit card use. Many or most small banks or credit unions do not. need I say more?
USA Tue 05/25/2010
Currency Conversion Capital One
I just called Capital One (1-866-457-7472) to get the current Euro exchange rate. It is 1.3073. Next I brought up the Wall Street Journal currency web site and it showed 1.228. Capital One says they have no foreign transaction fees but the conversion rate is .08 less favorable to the dollar. An other bank, US Bank, has a foreign transaction fee of 3%. Which is better? .08 of 1.22 is about 7% for using Capital One, vs 3% for using US Bank.
Cleveland, OHio USA Tue 05/25/2010
I have used Capital One's credit card overseas in every european country, mostly the euro, but about 10 other currencies, south africa, 5 countries of south america, around 3 countries in central america, canada and mexico as well as the cook islands, south korea and thailand. This is over about the last 12 years.
I follow exchange rates over the internet and elsewhere when I travel so I know what to expect for conversion rates. In all those years and travels, I have to say nowhere and I repeat nowhere was capital one's exchange rate 7% off of published exchange rates. Had that been the case, they would not get my business..period. In fact capital one tracks consistently with published exchange rates. In fact in the rare times we have used another card (bank of american visa), as I recall the rates were extremely close, and I mean extremely close. Even then, I would expect a little difference unless both the transactions using the different cards cleared the exchanges at exactly the same time.
So if someone out there "called capital one to get the euro exchange rate", they are full of it. You are not getting any official exchange rate that is used for real currency transactions of customers. In fact most of the nincompoops you talk to over the phone do not even have a clue as to what you are talking about. How about someone actually doing what I say and do 2 simultaneous transactions using different cards, one capital one, and a different one on 5 or so consecutive days and then compare the exchange rates on each respective sets of transactions and report back their results.
In fact, my guess is that some money hungry attorney or 2 has already done this, looking for a quick million in a class action lawsuit. And I know what they found out...negligible differences.
And by the way, I don't work for capital one or have any financial interest in their operations.
USA Tue 05/25/2010
3% is outright theft.
I've been traveling to Bermuda from Texas on business for the last few years. My last trip ended in September 2009. In none of my previous trips was I ever charged an "International Purchase Transaction Fee". I'm in Bermuda again right now. Imagine my surprise to discover on my current trip that Wells Fargo is now charging these fees. Their customer service reps don't really know what's going on. Bermuda dollars are 100% equivalent to U.S. dollars. Their value is literally based directly on the U.S. dollar. There is no "exchange", no calculation. No justification for a fee. I'm getting charged a 3% credit card fee for a CHECKING CARD. This is wrong. As in criminally wrong.
Little Elm, TX USA Fri 05/21/2010
Travelex Cash Passport
I have used a Travelex "cash passport" on 3 separate occasions when traveling to Europe and have always been pleased with the service, security and convenience of the Cash Passport. It works like a credit card or ATM card, but there are no international transaction fees because the card already contains euros. Be aware, however, that the currency exchange rate differs based upon (1) the amount of $$ you are changing/putting on the card; and (2) where you obtain the cash passport. For example, the exchange rate at the JFK airport Travelex kiosk may not be as good as the rate you will get if you get your Cash Passport at the main office on Broadway in New York or other retail location.
Rockville, MD USA Tue 05/18/2010
During a recent stay in London I used my Paypal debit card to withdraw cash from my Paypal account. There were no foreign transaction fees, only the local ATM fee.
Houston, TX USA Fri 05/14/2010
capital one is fudging?
I use capital one's credit card alot overseas. They charge zero foreign transaction fees and zero visa/mc exchange fees. One the subject of fudging with the exchange rate to make up for it, I just do not see it happening. We used this card over 8 consecutive days recently in thailand and the exchange rate I got on my statement tracked very well with with i saw on various web sites quoting exchange rates. These rates change by the minute and it would be extremely hard for the average person to make an accurate critique without doing simutaneous transactions over several days using different cards and see how the exchange rates shake out.
My feeling is that if capital one had their thumb on the scale, some lawyer would have already latched onto them with a class action lawsuit as anyone who really wanted to could get extremely accurate historical exchange rates from all over the world and compare that to what capital one gives as the exchange rate. So I say to all those who would rather pay 3-4% in foreign transaction fees because they think capital one may be fudging..go ahead. But I will continue using their card until difinitive proof from a REAL reliable source proves in court otherwise that capital one is fudging on the exchange rate. And my experience with capital one as far as customer service has always been excellent. Never had a problem with them, never had a foreign transaction denied and I get 1 1/4% cash back and have gotten over $1500 in cash rebates so far.
USA Fri 05/07/2010
No Foreign Transaction Fee with PenFed
Pentagon Federal Credit Union started offering a Visa Promise card over the last year - 0 fees ever. www.penfed.org This includes no Foreign Transaction Fee. I've had a PenFed Visa for years, but I switched to the Visa Promise for an upcoming trip to Ireland. Not sure what the exchange rate will be, but this will be our primary card.
Also, we have a mastercard through USAA that charges the mandatory 1% fee Mastercard makes them charge. Not bad.
This is as of 27 Apr, when I called both.
Hampton, VA USA Tue 05/04/2010
Several people have posted that Capital One has no fees when using their card. That is true on the surface, but that would seem like a free lunch. Capital One makes it up in the exchange rate. If you are using Capital One see what the exchange rate is. I stopped using Capital One due to my experience of their poor customer service.
LA area, CA USA Sun 05/02/2010
Getting ready for a trip to the UK, I shopped for best rates for pounds, and was disappointed with Travelex, the airport folk. But, exploring Heathrow's website, I noticed a link to "Order Currency," and it led to a Travelex site were you can purchase pounds online. No fee if using a debit card, and the exchange rate has been consistently below the market rate by 4 or 5 cents. You can pick up the pounds in 24 hours from any airport Travelex in in (most international airports), so it could be used repeatedly as you move about the continent.
Mabank, TX USA Fri 04/23/2010
atm not working
I would recommend that when out of the country and an atm transaction is rejected or does not go through, do several things. First if possible, get a receipt from the machine and hopefully it will show that the transaction failed. Also, if a message comes up on the screen stating the transaction failed, use your camera or cell phone camera try and capture a shot of the screen. The one thing I always try to do is only use an atm machine after I see someone else successfully getting money from. while not foolproof, it at least shows that the machine has money and it is being dispensed properly so the machine is not thinking it is doling out the money when it is in fact not doing so. I have no idea how one proves you did not get atm money..i would like to hear from people who have had to go down that road.
wa USA Tue 04/20/2010
Card rejected/money taken from acct anyway
We were usually successful using our ATM card at bank-affiliated machines in Lucerne, but several times the card was rejected and returned, for no clear reason, after we had entered the amount we wanted. We arrived home two weeks later to find that the rejected amounts had been deducted from our account anyway. It added up to quite a bit of lost money, as we had been requesting large amounts in order to pay fewer transaction fees. I think this was an electronic error, not a scam, and am not sure how to protect oneself from it except to find a secure way to check your bank balance as soon after each card-rejection as possible. (After Lucerne, we continued to use the same card through Italy and Germany and had no problems at all.)
Boston, MA USA Sat 04/17/2010
credit card surcharge on foreign transactions
If you thought that booking something in US dollars would avoid the 3% credit card surcharge, think again. I booked a hotel in Bermuda, using a CitiBank Mastercard. Although the room rate was quoted in US dollars and charged as such, CitiBank still assessed the surcharge because the transaction "occurred out of the country". Use a Capital One card instead.
San Rafael, CA USA Thu 04/08/2010
Just returned from 11 days in thailand and korea. Just for general info. I have a atm card (atm only, not debit/atm) at Mountain Pacific Bank in Everett. They refund 100% without limit on atm machine/other bank fees and charge no atm fees or international transaction/conversion fees at all. worked without a hitch in thailand. One thing to note though, is that in korea, almost all atm or atm/debit cards drawn on a u.s. bank will not work for atm use. I heard that a citi bank atm card will work though, but i can't confirm that. Credit cards or debit cards do work and capital one is the best as they charge zero foreign transaction fees. You can withdraw cash using a credit card, but you have to have your pin and pay all the rediculous credit card fees and interest rates to do so. We only took a 5 hour city tour on our layover in Seoul and everywhere we went they took u.s. dollars, but you only get about 90% or so of the true exchange rate, but if you are spending a small amount to buy a few things, not very much. but again they do take your u.s. credit card. Alot of money exchange places at the airport where you can get probably about 95% of the true exchange rate to convert us dollars to korean currency which is about 1135 to 1 usd. another quick thing on the mountain pacific atm card. this is the second foreign country trip I have used it and it has worked fine all the time. The first time I only used it to take out about $100 in the turks and caicos islands. This time i wanted to take out more in thailand. I was told by mountain pacific before I left, that the standard daily limit on their atm card was $500/day. I tried to take out $400-500 equivelant in thai currency and was repeatedly rejected. Got sort of worried that the atm card would not work at all. It was only when the idiot light went off in my head that I lowered my withdrawl to just under the equivelant of $300 that the card worked. So I think that $300 is the standard daily limit unless you manually tell them to set the limit to another amount. Also note that in thailand virtually every atm charges 150 thai baht (about $4.50 usd) per atm withdrawl. No sweat with mountain pacific as they refund 100% so the lower $300/day limit was no big deal. and mountain pacific's accounts are free to the over 55 crowd with no minimum account balances required or monthly fees. Nice. And very friendly, but their daily limit advice is suspect.
USA Tue 03/30/2010
I was reading the post about the people converting $4200 usd for a very small fee and a supposedly good exchange rate. And I think that is a decent option if and only if you can sleep with carrying around that kind of cash. I couldn't. All it would take is one, I repeat one slip-up for your vacation to becoma a catastrophe. In europe thieves and pickpockets are everywhere. And I mean everywhere.
And I speak that from experience. I got my wallet ripped off from me in amsterdam on a crowded city bus. It was in a front pocket with velcro and buttoned. Fortunately the person only got a small amount of cash, about $200 equivelant usd and an atm only card which was worthless to him since he did not have the pin. Although I do hope the creep went out with my money and bought enough heroin to o.d on.
I used my spare atm only card that my wife had to continue using my bank account without a hitch, so other than feeling a bit lousy for a couple of hours, it did not ruin our trip. He also got one credit card which I promptly cancelled (keep the u.s. collect number to call in a separate spot) and we used our spare from another account with the same bank (capital one also), as we both have separate capital one credit cards just for that reason.
USA Tue 03/30/2010
Skip the ATM & Credit Card Fees
We have all read about and experienced the many fees, hassles, and rip-offs associated with the use of any credit card or ATM in Europe. In Rome, I recently used the ufficio postale or the Post Office to change money! They offered the best rate by far for a dollar to Euro exchange. We only paid a 7,0 Euro fee to exchange $4,200.00 and the rate was very close to the rate published in the Wall Street Journal (1.3687 per Euro). By exchanging one time and using a money belt, we eliminated the hassle of using (and finding) the ATM machines and really enjoyed the benefit of knowing the rate. The money changers at the storefronts on the street were charging 1.4987! Next time you travel, take cash and exchange at the Post Office!!
Santa Fe, NM USA Sun 03/21/2010
New Credit Card Laws and Travel
Pacific Palisades, CA USA Sun 02/21/2010
My Charles Schwab checking account has an ATM card which refunds all ATM fees.
Sonoma, CA USA Mon 02/15/2010
atm and credit card fees
For credit card transactions (not atm withdrawls with the credit card)capital one is 100% fee free. No one does better than that, although some others might match it. For atm use, fees are the norm. both a fixed fee and/or a 2-5% foreign transaction fee of some sort. Most atms throughout the world do not charge fees. These fees are all coming from your bank. My personal favorite in Seattle is Mountain Pacific Bank. Open a checking account (fee free to us over 55 crowd)and get an ATM only card. They charge no foreign transaction charges for use either within or outside the U.S., and if the atm owner or bank charges you a fee, they rebate 100% of that instantly and without limit.
snohomish, WA USA Sun 02/07/2010