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Airport ATMs- be careful which ones you use

The following link to a transportation blog discusses how more airports are eliminating bank owned ATMs and replacing them with ATMS owned by exchange services. The bottom line- make sure you know who owns and operates the ATM before using it.

http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/21324001/beware-the-new-airport-atm-scam/?source=45568&value=2014-12-21+00%3A00%3A00&u=DVIINLAGDT&nltv=142102_a&nl_cs=21343028%3A%3A%3A%3A21310100%3A%3A142102_a

Posted by
2045 posts

This and the duplicate post of this link need to be taken with a large grain of salt. It's not accurate.
I'm having a hard time believing that existent bank ATMs in airports have been removed. My ATM card is with Cirrus, I called up the Cirrus locator. In it, I have already been able to find bank ATMs in Schiphol and Kastrup, and am willing to bet this holds for other airports (other than London's, which we know about the deal made with Travelex).

If you have any doubts about where to find real, i.e. bank-operated, ATM rapidly, just look for it as part of your trip preparations. It's easy.

Posted by
4468 posts

And as I posted in the other thread, it is more a case of being careful how you use the ATM (declining DCC) than who operates it.

Posted by
4822 posts

I agree with Marco, the advice is to be aware of the DCC issue, and know the impact it can have to your transaction and be familiar with the "terminology" that may be used to describe the transaction. This not only affects airport ATMs, but an ATM where ever it may be.

Even as long ago as a couple years ago I encountered this in Spain, at the Airport, in Barcelona, and in some smaller towns near Barcelona and at ATMs run by Banks.

For that matter, DCC can happen at shops, restaurants, or anywhere you may use your credit card.

Just like understanding exchange rates, this is another skill you need when travelling.

Posted by
23577 posts

a game called Dynamic Currency Conversion. You are at a sales counter or ATM and it offers to charge you in your home currency (say US $$) instead of the local currency (say €€). You say, wow, I know exactly how much that costs and don't have to get out the calculator.

Problem is, the rate is almost always plenty worse than the interbank rate you would normally be charged, because the merchant or his bank can charge whatever rate they like as long as they spell it out in the fine print; and your card issuer will usually also charge the foreign machine fee on top.

Not a good deal for the cautious money saving traveler. A good deal for the merchant. Your bank doesn't care. And it is legal.

Just say no.

Posted by
507 posts

I can't wait to see the ATM screen after deplaning at Lisbon Airport to see for myself the DCC.

Posted by
4822 posts

I cannot guarantee that you will or will not see DCC in Portugal, but basically if you are given a choice, as opposed to just doing a withdrawal, it is likely DCC. The wording will be something like " Would you like to complete this transaction in---US Dollars orHome Currency or similar...Or complete in ---euros or local currency or the like. Always choose the local currency. They may also give you a cost or total, so have a rough idea of how much an amount of euro will cost you. For example, if I went next week, the exchange rate is about $1.22 for 1 euro, so 200 euro should cost at least $244, maybe $2-3 more in fees, so $246. If I see much more than that, I know they are making the conversion.

Posted by
2045 posts

And when you decline, watch for additional wording such as "If you do this we can't guarantee your exchange rate", which is a bs attempt to get you to go back and select their DCC method. Saw that in Germany last summer (on a bank's machine).

Also read the wording carefully. I saw this once in London where declining actually needed the "Yes" answer.

Posted by
507 posts

Thank you, Paul & Larry, especially for the warning to really pay attention to the wording on the ATM.

Posted by
17657 posts

"...it is more a case of being careful how you use the ATM (declining DCC) than who operates it."

I can't agree.

The Interbank rate today is $1.21777. Travelex is selling Euro at $1.35538, a markup of 11.3%. With DCC, the ATM charges you in dollars at their exchange rate, but your bank still charges you their own % fee (at worst, 3%) for the out-of-system ATM. So as long as the ATM charges less than 8% for the DCC, you're still better off than using a Travelex ATM.

There is almost nothing worse than using Travelex.

Posted by
4822 posts

The point with the Travelex ATMs, is that if you decline their conversion, then the transaction goes through as with any ATM. In my experience at Heathrow, the ~1% I was charged is the same I pay anywhere. If you accept the DCC, then yes, you will pay their exchange rate plus a fee, about ~8-10%.

Posted by
2045 posts

Can anyone post the information from a receipt from a Travelex ATM at LHR so we can see what actually was paid?

Posted by
4468 posts

Such a receipt wouldn't show any conversion info since that would be done by the card issuer. It would just be a receipt in GBP though without reference to USD which would show something.

Posted by
2045 posts

Okay, I'll revise the request: can anyone post their withdrawal amount in GBP from a Travelex ATM at LHR, along with what their home bank deducted in US dollars, and the date? With that information, perhaps we can sort out what each part of the transaction is costing. No more than 3% of the difference should be attributable to the US bank.

Posted by
4822 posts

I no longer have the specific data or the receipts. But I have been to London twice in the last 3 years, withdrawing money at Heathrow each time, and at the beginning of each trip, I did go on line and verify the transaction. For what it is worth, here is what I found.

First, I use a Credit Union account tied to my checking. In dozens and dozens of foreign transactions, my cost always calculates to the current interbank exchange rate plus my bank charges a foreign transaction fee and a separate currency conversion fee, which come to about 1% in total.

The first time at Heathrow, I was unsure of the Travelex machines, and honestly was confused by the wording they used (I had seen DCC before in Spain) so I pulled out only enough to get into town, and actually hit the wrong option. That transaction netted me fewer pounds than expected (8-10% from what I recall), my bank still charged the foreign transaction fee, but did not charge the currency conversion fee.

The next time, in February of this year, I was wiser, chose local currency, and the transaction was as expected, about 1% over the interbank rate.

I do suggest maybe searching for the the other thread on this board where this was discussed recently. Marco posted links to screen shots of the ATM, showing exactly what occurs and what the correct option is. The ATM does now indicate exactly what the transaction will cost you (less any fees by your bank), three years ago, I believe it did not.

Posted by
507 posts

Marco's post that is being referred to:

DISAPPEARING AIRPORT ATMs
Marco
12/12/14

It is perfectly possible to get money from the Heathrow ATMs without paying the Travelex charges. It seems this reporter didn't get beyond the screen where you are offered the Travelex rate.
This report includes a screen shot of the Travelex ATM:
http://loyaltylobby.com/2012/02/08/withdrawing-money-from-the-atms-at-the-london-heathrow-airport-dont-fall-on-the-travelex-currency-conversion-scam/
If you select the without coversion option, then your card would be charged in GBP.
Around the UK there are now more non bank ATMs than bank ones. Many of these no longer charge service fees. Conversely some bank machines operate DCC.

Posted by
4468 posts

The screen shot shows how clever it is not to ask a yes/no question but instead present two separate 'continue' options, with the DCC one being on the RHS. With the article being a couple of years old the layout may have changed now.

Posted by
17657 posts

OK, the link by the OP implied that it was not possible to decline Travelex's conversion charge (10%-11%), but Marco is saying that it is - it's just confused as to how to do it. Travelex's conversion charge is just like any other DCCs that are beginning to appear at ATMs.

Colette, thanks for the link to the screen shot. It makes more sense now.

Posted by
17657 posts

I'm bringing this back to the top in hopes someone has newer information about this. Is it possible to decline the DCC at a Travelex ATM and make it work like any bank ATM?

Posted by
2045 posts

As I said earlier - I will be happy to risk the fee on one 20 GBP withdrawal from a Travelex on April 8 at LHR when we pass through, and report back what I get charged. Especially now that I have a Schwab ATM card to go with my CapOne, they may eat the fee for me.

Posted by
4023 posts

So what are some of the bank ATMs we might find in London? It does help to know the names.

Posted by
5817 posts

Jane this link will take you to the Wikipedia page for banks in the UK
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banks_in_the_United_Kingdom

It is overly detailled for your needs but if you give it a skim read you will see the main bank ( and building society) brands that you will see on the UK high streets.

There are totally legitimate ATMs everywhere in London, including in many underground stations, so you won't have a problem finding one to use.

Posted by
4023 posts

Great help. Thanks all. Colette, the screen shot really helps. I tend to be in a hurry at ATMs (nervous hubby standing beside me), so knowing where the "opt out" button is helps. Marco, I was able to use the map on your link to find ATMs in my hotel neighborhood. And Emma, the bank list was just what I wanted. I've heard of Barclays, of course, but am not familiar with the names of other banks in Britain. Thanks very much to all of you.