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ATM Madrid Barajas (Updated)

Hey travelers,
My wife and I are headed to Spain in June 2020. I see older posts about ATM's at the Madrid Barajas Airport, but was hoping for updated info. In the US I most likely wouldn't attempt to use an ATM at an airport thinking it would nail me on fees. Traveling domestically though I could show up with some cash in hand already, then find a free atm near the hotel once we get settled. For Europe people say this isn't the right approach as exchanging currency stateside as starter money really nails you with fees. We all agree it is best to just use an ATM upon landing. I have a capital one 360 debit card that claims to be foreign transaction free.
What are the best ATM's to use at Madrid Barajas with respect to fees?
Are people's cards still being sucked into the machine and lost (as I have seen detailed on older posts)?
Should I withdrawal the max at the airport? Or pull less money, then more near hotel?
How inadvisable is it to bring starter Euros? Thanks so much.

Posted by
6386 posts

I just left Madrid airport today. I would use Bankia (that is a major Bank) to withdraw money at the airport. B ut it can not hurt if you are not use to traveling overseas lately for convenience to get some Euros from your bank before. Also depending on how comfortable you are with taking the metro to the city center to your hotel like I did this trip you could buy a 1 day 3 day pass with a credit card to use the metro at the airport. Either way I would withdraw about 200 euros and pay everything by credit card to conserve cash. We ate dinner 12 nights this trip and nev er used cash. You only need cash for transactions under 10 euros. I even went to cafe that had a 3 euro min if you want to use a credit card.

Oh and I have taken about 12 trips to Europe in the last 5 years and not once has my card or others I know have gotten stuck in a machine; and that type thing can happen to you at home. As long as you ha ve more than one means of getting money I wouldn't worry about that.

Posted by
20552 posts

There are a lot of myths and mis-information that gets thrown around on this subject. So I pay ten bucks to get a hundred euro stateside. Hardly consider that as getting "nailed with fees." Personally prefer to have that in my pocket on landing than being concerned about finding an appropriate ATM. But -- just personal preference. (I often have left over Euro from prior trips.) For me the best ATM to use is an ATM attached to a bank during banking hours just after someone else has use it. (If it works for them, it should work for me.) All the ATMs that I have used recently, suck the card into the ATM to read it and then returns at the end of the transaction. Have never lost a card in an ATM in Europe. Always a possibility so I carry a couple of back up cards. I don't find using an ATM in Europe any difference than in the US.

Generally ATMs in Europe do not charge a user fee or what is called, "an out-of-network fee." But that may be changing. In Spain I have encountered ATMs that charge a 1 to 2 euro fee for using the ATM. Recently found that in Prague also. For me that is not a big deal to pay a couple of Euro for the convenience of the ATM.

Posted by
4776 posts

If you understand your costs for getting money, then you can make a good choice as to where and when to get cash. Without going into details, here are some thoughts.

  • Getting money ahead is an issue of safety and peace of mind. It will cost you 5-10% over the Interbank Rate to get it at most banks, probably fine for a couple hundred euro if it makes you feel more at ease.
  • Since you have a Capital One 360 card, they will charge you no fees. I believe they at least used to reimburse some fees encountered, but traditionally few ATMs in Europe charged a fee. This has changed, more and more ATMs are, if you are reimbursed fees, then no problem, if not, if an ATM charges Fees, move on, even if you paid the fee yourself though, if you need cash, that is a small hit.
  • Do watch for something called DCC, it is rampant in Spain and Capital One does not reimburse you for any added cost due to DCC. Basically what happens is that in the transaction, you are offered the opportunity to process the transaction in Dollars or your home currency. Decline or choose Euros, otherwise you will be charged at an unfavorable exchange rate.
  • As for amount of cash, I have moved to using a good no fee Credit Card as much as possible. Easy in Madrid for all but the smallest transactions. Some cash is needed, but a couple hundred euro goes a long way when you do this.
Posted by
16555 posts

I have encountered many European ATMs that proposed to charge me a fee of around 5 euros. That's a very common flat fee. Other ATMs may charge percentage-based fees. Some of those were very high given my preference for making small withdrawals to avoid receiving large bills. In every country so far, I've been able to find no-fee ATMs, but looking for those is not fun when you first arrive in a country. If I landed with no euros in my pocket and wanted to get some before I left the airport, I'd adjust the amount of my withdrawal based on the fee displayed by the airport ATM. If a flat fee, you may as well make a full withdrawal; if percentage-based, I'd get less at the airport and hope to find a better deal downtown.

Posted by
628 posts

I've had good luck with BBVA and Santander ATM's at Madrid Barajas. My local credit union has a relationship with both.

Posted by
156 posts

I have a Capital One 360 debit card, just for travelling internationally. I didn't use an atm in Spain on my trips this past September and October, but did use it at the Frankfurt airport and several atms in Vienna, Budapest and Amsterdam. I wasn't charged any fees and the exchange rate was actually very good.

I try to make sure that I bring a few euros home with me after a trip (usually 20 - 40) so that I can start my next trip with a little cash in my pocket. I also use my Costco Visa card, which doesn't charge foreign transaction fees and rebates back a small percentage for hotels, restaurants and transportation.

Posted by
1094 posts

A lot of Spanish banks charge a fee for foreigners using their cash machines - some even for account holders. However, as far as I've come across, it's usually only a flat fee of a couple of euros or so (sometimes much less). That's going to be costly if you regularly take out €10 per visit, but if you take €200 per time, for example, it's hardly worth worrying about.

Just be aware this machine use fee is different from the DCC cost.

Posted by
1104 posts

If your lodging is near Atocha station or any of the major plazas you will find many different banks with machines either on the sidewalk or in a kiosk built into the entrance. Some of the machines have nicer displays than others and offer more services than others. The big branch locations of Santander and BBVA have machines that not only give you cash but allow you to buy tickets to concerts and museums, often with lower or no surcharge compared to buying online. Some will also have cash in a variety of denominations so if you get creative on the amount you withdraw you won't be stuck with only large bills. The only bank ATM that I've ever been disappointed by was in a Mechanics-equivalent branch, but I forget what the exact name was in Spanish. Non-bank cash machines are easy to avoid.

Posted by
3430 posts

The only Spanish bank machine that took a service fee for itself, as opposed to the customer's own, was from Caixa about five years ago. The policy may have been changed; a Caixa branch in Paris charged no fee a year ago. FYI, both BBVA and Santander are major international operations if that makes you feel more secure.

Posted by
16555 posts

I found a lot more fee-charging ATMs in Spain in 2019 than I had in 2016. It's like a virus.

Posted by
4465 posts

The charges at ATMs are continuing to rise. Santander can now charge as much as €7 for a transaction fee. Caixa are €2. Liber, Unicaja, Cajasur and Deutsche Bank were all free last month but the situation changes very quickly.

(The above ignores any special arrangements specific banks may have.)