Should you use ATMs when travelling abroad?
By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance
A friend of mine preparing for a recent holiday in Europe was surprised when told just how much he'd likely be charged for withdrawing his own money from an overseas bank machine.
The major advantage of exchanging money with your ATM card is that all cash withdrawals are exchanged based on a wholesale exchange rate, usually reserved for large interbank exchanges, according to Ambassador Travel. This rate is often a few percentage points better than what you can get from exchanging traveler's checks locally.
And, yes, there are fees associated with any international ATM withdrawals. At the very least you’ll likely be charged the same transaction fee that your bank presently charges you when using other banks’ ATMs. And that fee can be higher for international transactions (up to $5 or more) than at home where they're rarely more than $1.50. As well, some institutions will tag on a currency fee that might be as high 2% of your transaction.
Depending on your bank, you may get a break from those machines sporting the the Global ATM Alliance logo. Scotiabank is a founding member, along with Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, and Westpac. See if your particular institution offers similar reciprocity.
ATMs in some countries spit out only higher denomination bills, so it's a good idea to go to a bank – or, as a last resort, your hotel – fairly quickly to get some smaller bills. And don't be too quick to take out a bundle to save on future fees, as you may be setting yourself up to be robbed, suggests the Women on the Road blog.
Something else to consider is that many ATMs abroad, particularly in Europe, don't accept PINs longer than four digits. Also, if your PIN is based on letters rather than numbers, be prepared to translate the letters into numbers as many overseas outlets only have numbers on the keypad.
What’s your preferred method for accessing cash when travelling? Any savings suggestions?
Posted by: bigted | Jun 22, 2021 1:54:32 PM
If you do decide to use your debit overseas (or for that matter anywhere when you are traveling) PLEASE tell your financial institution. If you don't you might find your account blocked as a security precaution as they weren't expecting you to be using it in a different location.
Posted by: Mike | Jun 23, 2021 8:28:08 AM
I always use my bank card when I am traveling and its been fantastic. The way I figgure, any possible transaction fee from the bank is probably cheaper then what a currency exchange or hotel will charge me. ATM's are open 24/7 and no matter what shady part of the world I am in it has never been a problem. If you are worried about getting robbed I think you are more of a mark walking out of a tourist exchange place then some random bank like anybody else.
Posted by: John | Jun 25, 2021 5:47:00 PM
I travel extensively around the world, and have NEVER had a foreign ATM issue. My bank charges are onon-existent, as long as I use an affiliated e-service, and you can track the actual costs on line within minutes.
Does anyone actually use curency converters at the airport anymore?
Posted by: nick | Jun 29, 2021 12:30:21 PM
I think that the important thing is to let your bank know at some point before you just so that everyone is on the same page. I personally like to use as much cash as possible, and if you decide to do that as well you just have to be a little extra careful. My next option is the ATM card and that works just as well as cash with a few little fees here and there. Other than that, no big deal...
Posted by: Bill | Jun 30, 2021 1:08:43 AM
I use my bank card all the time in Peru. The bank I use at home in Canada is HUGE in Peru and I do not have to pay service charges to withdraw money from my account and the exchange rate is better than I would get with travellers cheques. Also, in Peru, most places, even banks charge you a fee for cashing travellers cheques