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ATMs in Europe

Santa Clarita...
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ATMs in Europe

We are leaving for Europe (starting with Paris) in about 2 weeks. My bank doesn't have branches in Europe.

I know what my bank charges for the privilege of using my debit card in Europe (3% + $5 per withdrawal - yikes!). If I use an ATM in Paris to withdraw money with my debit card, will the foreign bank also charge a flat withdrawal fee or a percentage on top of that? And does it vary between banks?

Will the exchange rate be that day's market rate? I assume yes.

Several posts suggest funds may not be available to withdraw from an ATM if your bank is "off line" for the night. I'm thinking that's completely wrong -- I can withdraw cash here in the US when the bank is closed. Assuming it's the same in France?

We are also going to Switzerland and Italy, so if you have info on Europe in general I'd love to know the answers for those countries (even tho this is the Paris forum).

Thanks.

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Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: ATMs in Europe

There is no fee from the French or Italian banks and also not from the Swiss ones. We have only once in multiple trips had a card refused by an ATM and it was fine a few hours later, but it is one reason we travel with different cards between us.

The exchange rate is very close to the published bank rates when you use ATMs and if there is going to be a fee, they advise you before the transaction is completed. The US does it all the time to us, and one bank in Spain.

You will want Euros in France/Italy and Swiss Francs in Switzerland.

When paying by credit card pay in the currency of the country, even if they offer to do it in USD. The exchange to USD is never as favourable as paying in Euro/Francs.

Ottawa, Canada
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2. Re: ATMs in Europe

I have heard of people getting a new Capitol One card in as little as a week... maybe apply for one? They charge no foreign transaction fees.

Have a look at other alternatives such as credit unions... many are not so quick to grab your money on foreign transactions and where I live, if you open an account you walk out the door with an ATM card in hand.

I'm not saying to dump your current bank as there are always many factors, but at least look into putting the cash you'll need for the trip into a more user fee friendly place!

Edited: 18 May 2012, 08:28
Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: ATMs in Europe

as soon as you get back change banks --- I have a local bank that doesn't charge me for withdrawals except the 1% conversion fee everyone charges -- some banks add an addition 2% and make per withdrawal charges

we dropped BOA when they added the 5$ charge; they have backtracked and now don't charge it for partner banks

Guelph, Canada
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4. Re: ATMs in Europe

Ouch - that is quite the penalty!

I don't know why, but when I took cash out of ATMs in France and Italy in 2009, my bank in Canada did not charge me for it in any way.

The only thing I make sure I do ahead of time is call the bank to tell them I'm going. My husband had issues with his bank card/credit card during our honeymoon because he forgot to call them and they put a hold on everything.

Toronto
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5. Re: ATMs in Europe

Good thought about calling bank. We're also going to Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France. Last year, in Italy, various banks charged between 3 and 5 dollars per withdrawal. Some ATM's would not let you withdraw more than 500 euros. But all the banks we went to charged something, they warned you, but hey you need the cash! Still it's better than paying credit for everything or having to have travelers cheques (remember those?)

DeputyDan
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6. Re: ATMs in Europe

I have a Capital One card for foreign travel. It is excellent.

We use our credit union debit card for ATM withdrawals. Total fees were under $2.00 USD per withdrawal.

We do not use a regular bank. I have nothing good to say about any of them.

Santa Clarita...
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7. Re: ATMs in Europe

Thanks so much for the fast responses! Just what I needed to know. Yes, I've thought about switching banks but it's such a hassle . . . maybe if we are lucky enough to be able to return to Europe again in a few years I'll get another account. We did notify the bank of the trip already, so hopefully there will be no problems actually using the ATM. Now I just have to figure out how to pack for three somewhat different climates in a little suitcase . . .

Paris, France
Destination Expert
for Paris
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8. Re: ATMs in Europe

Why do you bank at a bank that whats to take advantage of you? Janet is correct, change banks as soon as you can. My guess, by the type of fees you are paying, is that you might be banking at Wells Fargo. If not you are banking at one of the large, big budget national banks. Is banking at such a location really in your own best interest?

European banks will not charge you a fee for using their ATMs, and neither should your bank.

Ottawa, Canada
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9. Re: ATMs in Europe

It's needn't be a hassle. Find a bank or credit union that doesn't rip you off for foreign exchange and fees. Withdraw X amount of cash that you figure you'll need for the trip. Put it in the new bank. Easy, no hassle, no changing automatic payments etc.

When you get back and have time you can decide if further changes are needed.

Florida
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10. Re: ATMs in Europe

we only use credit unions and I get a 1.25 charge but both my husbands nor my atm card would give us money in France. We were a little freaked out and he had to do a cash advance on a credit card which is $$$. It has always worked in many countries but did not in France. We arrived in the UK, found an atm in Portsmouth and out popped money. I went into the credit union today and they have no clue why it didn't work in France. My credit union debit card did though. The chip and pin card from Andrews was great.