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Old 05-13-2009, 08:54 AM   #1
mog
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ATM's

You'll have to forgive me if this is a dumb question but I haven't travelled overseas for many years - before there were ATM's!! We always used travelers checks. Now I keep reading that the best thing to do is to just use your ATM card to get cash while you are traveling. So what I'm trying to figure out is this...does your ATM card just work in any old ATM you find in another country? I'm sure there are fees involved, but you just stick your ATM card in an ATM over there and get out cash in the local currency?? Do they tell you what the exchange rate is going to be or how much in American dollars it is that you are taking out. I guess I'm trying to make sure I don't overdraw my account where I have the money for this vacation by messing up on figuring out how much I'm taking out! Help this confused person get this straight in my mind please!

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Old 05-13-2009, 09:25 AM   #2
ga9497
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Originally Posted by mog View Post
You'll have to forgive me if this is a dumb question but I haven't travelled overseas for many years - before there were ATM's!! We always used travelers checks. Now I keep reading that the best thing to do is to just use your ATM card to get cash while you are traveling. So what I'm trying to figure out is this...does your ATM card just work in any old ATM you find in another country? I'm sure there are fees involved, but you just stick your ATM card in an ATM over there and get out cash in the local currency?? Do they tell you what the exchange rate is going to be or how much in American dollars it is that you are taking out. I guess I'm trying to make sure I don't overdraw my account where I have the money for this vacation by messing up on figuring out how much I'm taking out! Help this confused person get this straight in my mind please!

I don't remember if they tell you the exchange rate at the ATM's. I found that you did get the best exchange rates at the ATM. What I did on my last trip overseas is to check with my bank which international banks they were associated with. In most countries if I used that bank in that country I wasn't charged any extra ATM fees like you would at home using an ATM that isn't at a branch from your bank. Some countries had a very small fee.

We used a credit card most times for purchases, restaurants and tips but used the ATM to have some local currency in our pocket. Our bank also carries foreign money and we exchanged some before we left so that we didn't have to search out an ATM in the airport while tired from a long flight.

ATM's in Europe are everywhere. I was even suprised that the bank in my small hometown in Sicily had it considering they just got their first in town traffic light in 2001.

You also have to make sure your pin for the ATM is 4 digits and does NOT start with a zero.
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Old 05-13-2009, 09:25 AM   #3
Traveling Tinkerbell
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We have used our ATM cards many times when traveling with ABD. In each of those countries, the ATMs we used gave us a choice of selecting the English language or the language of that country (even in China). After that choice, we usually see the screen display an input choice for the local currency. We always know the exchange rate before heading to other countries and we take a calculator to make sure we input the right conversion amount when accessing the ATM.

In some of the countries, the ATMs allow you to input USD amounts on the screen and then the ATM does the math and dispenses the local currency.

Current daily exchange rate information can be found everywhere (i.e. hotel, banks, travel offices, newspaper, Internet). You can go on the Internet before your trip and print out a currency conversion table that will give you some comfort to keep from entering a big number in the ATM machines that might wipe out your checking account funds.

Two things I would make sure you check out. Does your bank charge a fee for each time you use an ATM in another country? Our bank allows 2 free ATM uses per month (in other countries) and the charges after that run around $5 per transaction. I would also call your bank before your trip and make sure they have in their computer records that you will be traveling to theses countries. That way, you will not run into any problems with your ATM card getting rejected when trying to use it in other countries. We also call our credit card providers as well to let them know we are traveling in certain countries.

Some of our fellow travelers in our ABD group have had trouble with their ATM cards and credit cards because they did not notify their banks before traveling. The banks are just trying to protect the customer when they don't have records of the customer traveling outside of the US.

Have a great trip and remember your ABD guides are good sources for leading you to the friendly ATM machines.
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Old 05-13-2009, 09:45 AM   #4
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I second what Travelling Tinkerbell told you about notifying your bank and credit card company's about your trip. Give them the dates you will be there and the countries you will be using it in, so you won't run into your card being declined due to unusual activity...it happens all the time!
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Old 05-13-2009, 10:19 AM   #5
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Why can't your PIN number start with a zero? I've never heard of that before.
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Old 05-13-2009, 01:03 PM   #6
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I ran into the starting with a zero issue too. Something with the banks in Europe not recognizing pins that are longer than 4 digits or starting with a zero. I had to change my pin before my vacation in Europe a few years ago. I don't know if that is now a non issue but that was they way it was in 2007

Last edited by Joan1; 05-13-2009 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:58 PM   #7
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First, use a credit card everytime you can. Your bank charges a very small fee for the transaction. Less then going to an ATM and you don't have to worry if you left enough. Many hotels will also cash travelers checks for free. Don't convert too much American money. Depending on where you go the exchange rate from foriegn to US hurts. If you have any incidentals on the hotel pay with whatever money you have. I went to London/ Ireland and found the pound very easy to use. It's very close to US money except they use coins until you get to the $5 mark.
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:14 PM   #8
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During our recent ABD trip to Ireland, I did use ATMs as a means of getting cash & did not use my card for transactions otherwise. I DID let my bank know I was travelling to Ireland ahead of time, and they advised me of the fees associated with using my card... which is why I chose to get cash three times throughout the trip and use the cash - not my card.

The one thing I did not realize was that I would NOT have the option of withdrawing from my savings (like you can in the states). Thankfully, I reached my local branch of my bank on the first try and spoke with someone I knew who transferred my saved up "vacation money" to my checking account so that I could draw on it without worries - but fair warning, if you've been saving in a separate account and were hoping to draw from that secondary account - transfer the funds to your main account before you leave! The ATM did not do conversions (from Euros to USD).
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Old 06-08-2009, 06:43 AM   #9
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Your debit card should work in any Bank ATM overseas. I never checked if it was affiliated with PLUS, STAR or any of those systems.

You stick your card in, follow the instructions on the screen and get local currency. If you ask for 200 you get 200 Euros.

I asked for receipts at each withdrawal. Sometimes I got them, sometimes I didn't. The receipt tells you date, time, Bank and withdrawal amount in Euros. No mention of fees or how much in $ has been withdrawn.

With the current exchange rate I would figure about $45 extra for every $100 you withdraw.

Here's one I did in Ireland on 05/26/2009

Withdrawal Amount: 100 euros

When I returned home the bank statement read:
05/27/2009 ATM NATIONAL IRISH BANK 05-26-09 CO. KERRY $139.95
05/27/2009 Debit 05-26-09 CO. KERRY NATIONAL IRI DEBIT CARD INT'L TRAN FEE $4.20

So $139.95 + $4.20 = $145.15 was actually deducted from my account when I withdrew €100.

The exchange rate fluctuates daily but it won't differ hugely from our recent trip.
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Old 06-08-2009, 06:57 AM   #10
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As for using a credit card, it is worth checking with your card company first to see if they charge a transaction fee. If they do, it will be a percentage of the sale. Each sale. So you may be better off paying the one time fee at the ATM to get cash than a percentage of several transactions on your credit card.

otoh, you don't want to be carrying a huge wad of cash around, in case your wallet goes missing.

last week in France, 100 Euro's from an ATM ended up being $142 US dollars, plus the $4 atm fee. Just as redzinner says, just mentally add around $45 dollars for every 100 you are taking out.
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