After spending a month in Europe, we discovered an issue with ATM transactions, even at bank ATM's. Most now offer to "convert" your request to US dollars, also called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). DO NOT DO IT ! What they don't tell you is there will be a substantial fee for the conversion, at least 2%. ALWAYS get money from an ATM in local currency. If you want to know more, just Google Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). Enough said.
Alan, I see you are new here. DCC is not new here. If you search this board, you will see this has been discussed here many times over the last couple of years. There are also many attempts to do this on credit card transactions, where it may not even be noticed by the user. Also on this board you will find explanations that you should only use bank ATMs, almost everywhere in Europe bank ATMs by law do not charge fees, while private ATMs do.
I was in Europe in June and July this summer and used bank ATMs almost exclusively and often and never experienced that issue. When did you experience that issue with a bank ATM?
Alan, were you using a debit card, or a credit card (a cash advance)? Not sure how an ATM would give you money in anything but a local currency.
I don't even use my Wells Fargo ATM card in Europe. They hit you for $5 service charge and discount the currency by 3%. That's excessive in my book. My credit union ATM doesn't cost anything, and I get full value for my withdrawal. I try to put all my spending on my Capital One Visa that pays back 2% to travel costs in order to minimize cash withdrawals.
You might want to check with your bank about their charges.
Stan, he doesn't mean that the ATM would give you your currency or local currency. He means that the ATM offers to charge your ATM card in your currency or local currency. You will always get local currency out of the machine. If the ATM charges your card in your own currency, the ATM's bank controls the rate of the exchange. If you choose local currency it is charged at the going rate.
It is becoming very common and spreading. It is widespread in Spain from my own experience, especially at ATMs and even with merchants.
Dynamic Currency Conversion sounds helpful and convenient, by "converting" the transaction in your own domestic currency to make it easier to know how much something costs. In reality, by allowing the conversion, you allow the network to set the exchange rate, rather than the interbank rate used by the credit card/bank network. So they make a profit by doing a little math for you. Obviously you still pay in the local currency or get the local currency from the ATM.
Thanks Alan, a lot of people still don't know about it but will run into it more as it spreads across the continent.
DCC is not new. We 1st encountered it many years ago in Florida with merchants offering to convert our purchases to Cdn $ for us.
As Larry noted, the DCC option is also becoming more common with credit card charges. Beware.
Banks foist DCC on you at their ATMs as much as independents - in some countries more so.
Even in the most prevalent countries, such as Spain and Ireland the situation is not as bad as say China. There is a way of bypassing it at the point of sale - the problem comes with poorly trained cashiers.
American Express does not do DCC. Neither can you be DCC'd with a contactless credit / debit card transaction.
Encountered some stupid little stand alone ATM near to the Colosseum. Don't normally use those, but some people in my group desperately needed cash so I ventured along with them. This machine really really wanted to charge them in US Dollars and you had to physically opt out to avoid that. The catch was that the screen was so darn confusing I could never find a way to opt out. It wasn't me getting money so I really didn't care. But I learned that if you can't figure a way around the DCC issue there's always the "CANCEL" button and just take your business elsewhere.
My sister was a victim of credit card DCC in London. She bought a pair of shoes and when the cashier asked if she wanted to be charged in dollars, she said yes. I wasn't with her during the transaction and I feel guilty for forgetting to tell her to request to be charged in local currency only. On the other hand, I bought jewelry for 14 pounds and then left the shopping bag on a bus later that day, so we both lost money thanks to stupid oversights. Live, travel, and learn!