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Use of ATM's, service fee

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New York
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Use of ATM's, service fee

Hello all,

Headed to Paris in 2 weeks and was wondering about the use of ATM's there. I understand that they are everywhere but I belong to Washington Mutual here in the U.S. and was curious if say, I withdraw U.S. $100 worth of Euro's, do our banks charge an extra service fee for that?

I know it is traditional here in the U.S. that for example I belong to Washington Mutual and I use a Chase bank ATM often they will charge you a dollar or two for this. That I understand. However being overseas what kind of service charge is there? Any info would be greatly helpful, thanks!

Jacksonville, FL
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1. Re: Use of ATM's, service fee

Yes, most banks do charge an additional fee. It's actually a conversion fee to convert Euros to dollars in addition to your ATM fee. I'm not sure how much it is. If you can get a Bank of America Card, there is no fee to use the BOA card at the ATM'S that say BNP Paribas. They're everywhere and they're green. You can open a savings account with BOA and then have them overnight the ATM card, although this may be more trouble than it's worth. I will say it does add up though, because we don't take a lot out at once just in case of pickpockets or something like that.

Ohio, USA
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2. Re: Use of ATM's, service fee

Vick -

That is not the way it works. When you use your Visa or MasterCard debit card at an ATM outside the US you will automatically be charged a 1% conversion fee regardless of the bank that issued your card. The fee is actually charged by Visa or MasterCard, NOT your bank. In addition your bank MAY charge a fee every time you use your card to withdraw funds at an ATM outside the US. Most banks do charge such a fee which varies from bank to bank, usually between $2 and $5. BOA does not charge a fee if you use the ATMs of its partner banks. In France BNP Paribas is the partner bank of BOA. A very few banks charge no fee regardles of where you use your card overseas. If your bank does charge a "per withdrawal" fee it may or may not appear on your bank statement as a separate charge or it may be "buried" in the conversion fee.

To give you an example, if the US$ to Euro exchange rate is 1€=$1 (don't I wish...) and you withdrew 100€ from a bank in Paris, you would immediately be charged $101. If your bank imposed a $3 fee for the withdrawal your bank statement would show a withdrawal of $104, or a withdrawal of $101 and a fee of $3. If no fee were charged, the account would be debited $101. The 1% conversion fee, in this case $1, is charged by Visa or MasterCard, not by the issuing bank. Clear?

To the OP: When you use an ATM in Paris you will be withdrawing Euros, not US$. You will be given a choice of how many Euros you want to withdraw. Incidentally you will be given the option when you insert your card of having the ATM's language be English. You need to ask your home bank if they charge a fee for the use of an ATM outside the US, and what that fee will be. If they do, the way to minimize the impact of the fee is to withdraw fairly large amounts at one time rather than make a lot of small withdrawals. You can leave the bulk of the cash in your hotel room safe (which is what I do) and only carry as much "walking around" money as you feel you need, or carry the lot if you are nervous about leaving money in the safe.

In addition you should notify your bank and the issuers of any credit cards you will be using that you will be travelling overseas. if you do not, your cards may be blocked because the unusual activity may raise a red flag if the activity is seen as possibly fraudulent. You might also want to ask your bank for a temporary increase in your daily withdrawal limit. Not all banks are willing to grant this. Incidentally you will also be charged a percentage of any purchases you may make using a credit card as a conversion fee.

Lastly, there is a thing called "Dynamic Currency Conversion." If you use your credit card and the merchant offers to have the purchase debited in US$ rather than Euros, do NOT accept the offer. Insist on the ACTUAL amount being debited in Euros ONLY. The exchange rates you will get with the DCC option will be MUCH worse than the rate you will be charged by the card issuer.

As a general rule I pay for small purchases — up to about 25€ — in cash and only use a credit card for larger purchases.

Ohio, USA
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3. Re: Use of ATM's, service fee

Oops! I meant to type "Vicki." Sorry 'bout that...

New York
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4. Re: Use of ATM's, service fee

Thanks so much guys for your help!

Maryland
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5. Re: Use of ATM's, service fee

Wouldn't it be a good idea to contact your bank and get this information? Fees can vary...

Newcastle
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6. Re: Use of ATM's, service fee

To "TheGiant": I have WM ATM they told me they have no sister bank so when you use their ATM card there will be a fee charged as well as the conversion fee charged by Visa or Mastercard.

If you are leaving in two weeks you will have time to go to Bank of America and get an ATM card to use in Paris and France at the sister bank PNB which will have no bank fee charged. A conversion fee will be charged by either the Visa or Mastercard company.

The money will come from a checking account not from a savings account and you need a four number pin to access. It is a good idea to open this new account and not fool around with using your home regular account !

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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7. Re: Use of ATM's, service fee

Discover or anyone else - a few questions:

1. If I use the Bank of America ATM/debit card to make a purchase, is there an additional fee charged by BOA besides the conversion fee charged by Visa/Mastercard? Is the conversion fee here still 1% or higher (like 3%)?

2. I read somewhere in previous post that Capitol One charges no fees at all for their credit cards - including conversion fee. Is that true?

Would it be worth it for me to get a Capital One credit card? Or should I just stick with my Bank of America ATM/debit card for both ATM cash withdrawal and purchases.

Also ... is it easy to identified a BNP Paribas ATM machine in Paris or outside of Paris?

Thanks!

Ohio, USA
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8. Re: Use of ATM's, service fee

First I seriously doubt that Capital One credit cards do not charge a conversion fee. I do not know how their fees compare to the fees charged by other credit card issuers but I think the range is pretty narrow these days.

Second, unless you travel frequently outside the US or will be travelling for an extended period of time, I don't think it's worth the hassle of opening special bank or credit card accounts for the sake of saving what is, after all, a pretty small amount of money in the context of the total cost of your trip. Suppose you spend 100€ in cash a day — and that's a lot IMO. Now suppose in a week you make three cash withdrawals totalling 700€ and you are charged $3 for each withdrawal. By going to all the trouble of opening a special BoA account you just saved $9 — and you probably spent precious time on your vacation hunting down a BNP Paribas branch so you could get the cash you need. Is it worth it? I would prefer to have the freedom of being able to use any bank's ATM whenever I want. YMMV...

BNP Paribas branch banks are not difficult to spot. I would assume that a diligent search of BNP Paribas' home site www.bnpparibas.com might turn up a list of the locations of their ATMs.

A couple of suggestions: As a general rule (and one that I break all the time) it is probably best to use your card only at ATMs that are at the location of an actual bank and during banking hours. That way if the ATM "eats" your card for any reason you have someone you can talk to to get the problem resoolved immediately. And never use your card in an ATM that appears to have been tampered with or to be in any way suspect — but that is a rule you apply at home in any case, right?

Bottom line? Don't sweat the small stuff...

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9. Re: Use of ATM's, service fee

>>>Also ... is it easy to identified a BNP Paribas ATM machine in Paris or outside of Paris? <<<

BNP- PARIBAS, the French correspondent banl for B-o-A) is one of the largest banks in France with branch operations and ATM locations all over the the ciity of Paris and beyond. To locate a BNP-Paribas---

BNP-PARIBAS--

http://tinyurl.com/ycmw5o

Maryland
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10. Re: Use of ATM's, service fee

"First I seriously doubt that Capital One credit cards do not charge a conversion fee. "

But that does seem to be the case. I think they're the only one that doesn't.