Getting cash in another country

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by jasher926, Mar 6, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. jasher926 Silver Member

    What is the cheapest way to get cash in another country? In France, I used my BoA card at a BNP Paribas ATM for free, but every other country I've been to, I've just used my Wells Fargo card which charges a flat $5 per withdrawal. I've thought about doing a cash advance with Capital One since there is no foreign fee with them, but has anyone done this or does anyone know a cheaper way?
    • Original Member

    Bay Pisco Shark Gold Member

    Shop for a bank that rebates your foreign (or any other bank) ATM fees when assessed. Cash advances start assessing interest as soon as you take $ out.

    Some local banks, Schwab, and credit unions will do what you want - some unlimited, and some have rebate caps. There may be other depository/balance requirements.
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  2. jasher926 Silver Member

    As far as the cash advance, I figured that even at 25% interest accruing right away it would be about 7 cents/day for every $100 I took out. I would just make a payment on the credit card right away.
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    • Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    I haven't tried it reecently, but my AmEx card is linked to my checking account and I can purchase traveleres' checks and foreign currency, for example from a machine at an airport, as a direct debit without fees. I can also go to an AmEx office and write a check on my account for either local cash or travelers' checks.

    Some hotel chains permit elites to write checks for cash, which you could then have the hotel desk change for you, but the amounts are pretty limited and the exchange rates and fees are likely to be bad. This depends very much on local law.
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    • Original Member

    jmrich1432 Silver Member

    A lot of US banks have agreements with specific foriegn banks so you can use the foreign ATMs for little or no fee (you can find all the alliances online -- some are listed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_ATM_Alliance) . For instance, I used Bank of America the whole time I was in China and just made sure to use China Construction Bank ATMs. As long as I used those ATMs the $5 fee was waived and they just charged the foreign transaction fee (1% for BoA ATMs). It's not as cheap as using a credit card with no foreign transaction fee, but sometimes you just need cash. My credit union had some deals with banks in Europe as well, so it's not just the big US banks. Worth checking out.
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  3. jasher926 Silver Member

    It looks like Bank of America has an slightly more restrictive list than what is listed on Wikipedia. http://locators.bankofamerica.com/locator/locator/LocatorAction.do
    • BNP Paribas (France)
    • BNL d'Italia (Italy)
    • Barclays (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands)
    • Deutsche Bank (Germany)
    • Scotiabank (Canada and the Caribbean, Caribbean countries include: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles (St Maarten), St Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands)
    • Westpac (Australia and New Zealand)
    I just took a lot at some options and I think the best deal is what Bay Pisco Shark suggested. I just looked into Schwab checking and it has unlimited rebates on all ATM fees. CapitalOne rebates ATM fees up to only $15 per month now with its high yield checking.
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    • Original Member

    jwsky Silver Member

    I used my Schwab card in Indonesia. No fees or they will pay them and a good rate with no added percent. It is a regular ATM checking account which I use at home as well. And it pays a little interest. I have had it for two years and see no catch. It seems like they just hope I will use their brokerage or mutual funds. I had to sign up for a brokerage account, but have not used it.
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  4. harvson3 Silver Member

    Exact same here, in every regard except for the age of the account. I signed up for the Schwab acct less than one year ago; aside from some delays (3 days) in bank-to-bank transfers, I'm very happy. Will use it in Brazil soon.
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    • Original Member

    rwoman Gold Member


    This is one of the main reasons I continue to be a BoA customer...their relationship with BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Barclays and now others (LINK for list of international locations) has saved me a lot of money!
    • Original Member

    cheryld Silver Member

    My daughter is heading to Europe and I had her go to her BofA branch and make sure she could use her ATM card. They said she couldn't use it in Spain....do they mean fee-free or at all???
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    • Original Member

    misman Gold Member

    I would venture to say that they mean "free".
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    • Original Member

    cheryld Silver Member

    Thanks - so she can use it at any ATM with her 4 digit pin? Sorry for the dumb question, we have been to Europe in the past, always used our ATM and never were told we couldn't use it in a certain country.
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  5. harvson3 Silver Member

    I hesitate to say that all ATMs will work, but she should be able to use the BofA ATM card in Spanish banks.

    And because there's no member of the Global ATM Alliance in Spain, BofA will be happy to charge her 1% + $5 per withdrawal.

    This wiki was helpful when I was deciding to move away from HSBC, which started charging more to use foreign HSBCs: http://www.flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php/Credit/Debit/ATM_Cards_and_Foreign_Exchange
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    • Original Member

    jmrich1432 Silver Member

    She shouldn't have a problem USING it, but she will incur fees. Any non-alliance ATM will incur a flat usage fee on top of a foreign transaction fee (1% in Europe I believe). I believe Barclays ATMs are BofA alliance ATMs and she will not incur a flat-fee using those, but will always incur the foreign exchange fee. If you call BofA customer service they should be able to deliniate all of the fees for you and which ATMs are in their alliance.
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    • Original Member

    cheryld Silver Member

    Thank you - for the very helpful advice which I have forwarded to DD.
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    • Original Member

    jmrich1432 Silver Member

    Glad to help, make sure she confirms everything with BofA shortly before leaving. Things always change! I hope she enjoys her trip!
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  6. jasher926 Silver Member

    I believe Barclays fee-free ATMs will only apply to England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. There is no Global ATM Alliance in Spain.
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  7. daemon14 Gold Member

    I have BofA and when I lived in France for several months, it was a lifesaver. I had a BNP Paribas ATM across the street from where I lived, and the rate was always very close to the actual rate (within $0.50 for each 100Euros). Now that's a damn good rate.

    Unfortuantely the Global ATM Alliance doesn't cover a lot of the world, so I've opened a Schwab Checking account. It was really simple, took about 5 minutes to setup.
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    • Original Member

    Muerl Gold Member

    I have heard very good things about Schwab, but have not used it. When we were in Asia/Oceana We used a Maine bank, "Bangor Savings Bank" who refund all ATM fees (even international), charge no forgen transaction fees, and if you use a Foreign ATM and DON'T get charged a fee, they assume the bank built one in and give you $3 back.

    The only catch was you had to be a part time Maine Resident. They didn't ask questions when we showed up with a Maine Address and Phone Number though (Because our parent's are from there)
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  8. harvson3 Silver Member

    Another plug for Schwab. I used it in Brazil last month.

    Turns out that one of the ATMs in the downstairs inter-terminal area at GRU is compromised, and triggered a fraud alert. (I first tried Itau but that didn't work; I succeeded in getting cash at Banco 24 Horas.) Schwab alerted me by email, and placed a temporary hold. I called them on Skype and got the temporary hold lifted for an hour when I needed to visit another ATM in FOR. I then cancelled the card for a replacement when I got home.

    Excellent customer service, and the hold "music" is much more interesting (a ticker of business news) than is the music of any of the other companies I needed to Skype (namely, Orbitz, United, and TAM). I'm seriously considering sticking some of my IRA with them this year (which is their obvious intention).

    And my only ATM fees (R$8.00 in GRU; none at the HSBC in FOR) were refunded without me having to lift a finger. But this made me :)....
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    • Original Member

    jbcarioca Gold Member

    There are four fees that can be charged:
    1) DCC- dynamic currency conversion. That is charged nearly everywhere in China and in much of the rest of the world from time to time. DCC changes the currency in which the charge slip is denominated into the home currency of the credit or debit card. It happens at both ATM's and POS. It is legally an option but you're rarely advised of that. This will raise your charge by typically about 5% but all otehr foreign exchange and access fees will still apply because this is NOT an FX transaction, only a restatement of your charge slip. NEVER ever accept a DCC. Most merchant and bank staffers will not know taht is how it works and will flatly tell you it is not as i describe it. They are in error. Don't accept this, it is an option.
    2) Foreign Transaction charges- These are the ones that equate to FX. The fees vary from 4% to 1%, depending on who the card issuer is. Some banks do not charge then at all for some products (e.g. Chase Sapphire, Amex Platinum, Citi AAdvantage (some but not all flavours), CapOne Venture). Most non US cards do carry fees which vary widely (e.g. Credit Agricole France 2.8%). YMMV. Check each card you intend to use.
    3) ATM service charges. Some banks refund these (Schwab, INGDirect [all countries IIRC], while others do not charge within network (eg HSBC, Citi, etc)
    4) Cash advance fees. These generally are around 3% and apply to credit/charge cards only. Many of these say they have no FX fees, but they still charge the cash advance fee, and begin charging interest from the day you withdraw cash. Cash advances should be a last resort if nothing else works because of those fees and interest.

    The best thing to do if you expect to travel often is to get a debit card that has no withdrawal fees (many banks charge no such fees if within their network but you need to check out the network definition). ATM debit card cash withdrawal also will give the best exchange rate you're likely to find anywhere.

    A no fee credit card confers similar benefits because the FX fee is invariably far better than you'd get elsewhere.
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