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Have the bank fees using ATM fees in Europe gone up?

Has anyone noticed recently how high the bank fees are for using an ATM machine in Europe. I was in Ireland and not only did my own bank charge me $5 - the Ireland bank charged me a $13 fee. I don't remember seeing that huge of a fee before, just wondering if it's the norm. I was expecting a fee from both banks considering I was using another bank and outside the US - but wasn't expecting a $13 fee in addition to my own bank's $5 fee. I withdrew about $400 euros

Posted by
6178 posts

I went to Sicily and Malta last September. My credit union charged me 1% of the amount withdrawn (this happens on every trip overseas - Europe, South America, Mexico, etc). There were no other fees. I don't know the specifics of your situation (which bank you use in the US and which ATMs you frequented in Ireland), but it sure sounds like you should do some research and switch banks - I'm a big fan of credit unions, they have no profit motive like banks do. Your question really can't be answered without detailed info and historical data.

Posted by
4822 posts

I have not experienced, nor have there been any reports of European ATMs charging a fee for use (other than DCC, but that is buried in the exchange rate and not noted as a fee)

Your own bank hitting you for $5 is bad enough, many look for another bank or alternative ATM card (Schwab for example)

Maybe if you gave details of the transaction (date, how many Icelandic Krona you withdrew, if the fee was stated separatly or if you just had a total, what it was( then we might be able to answer.

Posted by
6047 posts

It's a bit hard to tell if the $13 is high without knowing how much you were withdrawing from the ATM and who's ATM it was. Stand alone ATM's not connected with a particular bank (those like Travelex) can sometimes have large fees like that. And if the fee is a % of the amount withdrawn, then if the amount is quite large then it's not unheard of. Your bank's $5 fee is probably a flat fee not dependent on how much is withdrawn.

Posted by
6178 posts

I was expecting a fee from the Ireland bank just not $13 - I withdrew about $400 euros.

When you convert 13 USD to EUR at today's rate, you get about 11.5 EUR. Then 11.5/400 = 2.87% fee.

Adding the 5 USD (4.42 EUR) on top of that brings the total fee up to about 4% (15.92/400 = 0.0398)

Posted by
4822 posts

It could be that in addition to your $5 transaction fee, you are also being charged a Foreign Transaction fee (by your bank) which is typically 3% by the same places that charge the $5 fee. On 400 euro, that would be about $13.

Most people that travel more than a few times seek out Credit Unions or other places that do not charge a transaction fee or foreign transaction fee, saving lots of $.

Posted by
3441 posts

Every bank and other moneychanger will charge you more than the interbank rate when you buy foreign currency, and give you less when you sell it back to them. The foreign transaction fee is a separate operation, and may be a flat fee or another percentage. That fee is usually set by your own financial institution, although an extra operator's charge is not totally unheard-of especially at private (versus bank) ATMs such as that grey blob in the back of the pub.

Posted by
180 posts

Yes even though I used a major Ireland bank and mine is a nationwide US bank - I think next time I'll look at my other bank which is a credit union and see their fees. Just hadn't used an ATM in Europe in a long time and was surprised

Posted by
6178 posts

Whether a bank is "major" or "nationwide" has no correlation with willingness and ability to extract as much profit as possible. Always read the fine print prior to travel because it's all in there somewhere...

Posted by
954 posts

We just returned from Sicily. We use our debit card attached to our Fidelity SmartCash account. This account includes a reimbursement for all ATM fees. I checked the exchange rate, and it was around 1% higher than the official rate.

Posted by
20632 posts

I am guessing that you do not understand what you were charged and by whom. $5 plus 3% is not an uncommon fee with many US Banks. I doubt if the Ireland bank charged you anything. If they did it would have been posted on the screen and you would have acknowledged the fee by accepting it. And your withdrawal slip would have indicated the 400 Euro plus the Ireland bank fee. Since you didn't see that, your bank charged your an extra 3% as currency conversion fee.

Posted by
17657 posts

I have never been charged a fee by a European bank, but my own bank always charges a "currency exchange" fee. Until I figured it out, I was paying big banks a 3% fee plus $5. Then I found out that local banks only charge 2% and my credit union only charges 1%. I also got a special Wells Fargo account that had 0% rate and no fees.

I once saw a plague on a Norwest bank (now Wells Fargo) ATM that said they charge non-customers users a fee for using their ATM, but it did not apply to out-of-country users, so I wonder if someone (the "Network"?) prohibits intercontinental charges. Anyway, the $13 sounds like your bank's charge for an out of country transaction, sometimes called an exchange fee.

Who is your US bank? Major US banks, Wells Fargo, Bank of A, Chase, US Bank, et all, all charge 3%.

The thing about this that worries me, if this was really a fee from the Irish bank, is that the EU recently capped the transfer fee, the percentage discount that banks take when paying merchants for card charges, at 3/10% for credit cards and 2/10% for debit cards. Could this be a case of banks finding other sources of income to replace the transfer fee?

Posted by
6807 posts

I think so, Lee. French banks have started charging a fee, something they never did in the past.

Posted by
11431 posts

Bets when did that start, i wasnt charged anything in paris last august.

Posted by
6807 posts

We saw something on the French news a few months ago-- the Fr2 de 20h on TV5Monde. It was about trying to use banks with lowerATM fees. My jaw dropped in surprise.

Posted by
486 posts

We are here in Paris now and so far, we haven't been charged any fees by the banks here for using their ATMs. Also, our own bank does not charge us any ATM fees.

Posted by
23577 posts

I haven't been to Europe for a few months so can't speak for France or Germany for this year, but I've only been charged by a handful of ATMs, most recently a few years ago in Trier - I cancelled the transaction and went elsewhere with no fee - and no British bank charges at their own ATMs. Private ATMs can and do charge.

Posted by
180 posts

Yes looked like it was all fees by my bank - Bank of America. I hadn't noticed such a high fee before from them so just surprised me - so was asking. As some other poster said 3% is what they are charged

Posted by
4468 posts

Independents in the UK (which operate more than 50% of the ATMs) have if anything been increasing their coverage of no charge ATMs - although these will be in areas of reasonable footfall. Ones tucked away in the the back of a village shop or pub etc are still likely to charge. The website of LINK is the best location searcher and shows the charges.

Posted by
2045 posts

Interesting, as we were in London and Dublin for 2 weeks beginning of this month, no fees. We used only bank ATMs, DCC did not even come up on screen for us to avoid. We have CapOne and Schwab accounts, neither one charges a fee, neither one has any foreign transaction fee. There were no bank fees from the host ATMs. When I reviewed the bank withdrawal records when we got home and converted by the day's posted interbank rate, we were debited a premium of .5 to .7 of 1 percent for the transactions (which is what we expect). As the math above showed, these excess fees all had to come from the US bank.

Posted by
6807 posts

"***We are here in Paris now and so far, we haven't been charged any fees by the banks here for using their ATMs."***

Good news. Perhaps foreign/tourist cards aren't getting the fees I saw on the French news?

Posted by
3809 posts

Our bank here in Canada (Scotiabank) is affiliated with some banks over in Europe - Barclays in the UK, BNP in France, BNL in Italy and others in other countries as well as Bank of America in the USA. (From the website... 'Scotiabank is a founding member of the Global ATM Alliance. When you’re travelling, you can use the ABMs of the international banks in the Alliance, and you’ll skip the surcharge and access fees.')

Now, I won't go really far out of my way to find one of these machines if we are running low and don't have time to look, and really, compared to the cost of the trip, the fees are a drop in the bucket, but I do prefer to keep my money mine and not give it to the bank. :) So we will put a little effort into finding one of these banks - especially if there are a bunch close together and we don't have to hunt.

Not sure if any banks in the US offer this service...

Posted by
2814 posts

Several big US banks, including BOA and Well Fargo, now charge a flat $5 + 3%. I used to use my BOA card for years and could avoid all charges if I used BNP Paribas in France. Now, as one poster pointed out, that just avoids one of the fees. So I use my TD Bank card, which has no fees. And none of the French bank ATMs I used this month charged any fee.

Posted by
3809 posts

Yeah - I guess I should have realized that those banks would reciprocate with the others in the global alliance...lol...

Posted by
215 posts

I used to use Bank of America in France at BNP ATM's to avoid fees . Now that they charge a 3% fee at their affiliated banks( 3% plus $5 at non affiliated banks) I switched to using my TD Bank card. They charge a flat $3 fee no matter how much I withdraw.
The last time I used my BoA card at a BNP ATM I got a $9 fee. i don't mind paying a few bucks but not $9 on $300

Posted by
2865 posts

See my recent posting in General Europe section on the topic "Pounds & Euros vs Credit Cards.". i very much fear that the day of European banks charging no atm fees is ending soon.

Posted by
4023 posts

Wow. I was mildly annoyed because my local bank started charging 1% on European ATM withdrawals. It used to be 50¢, then for 2 years it was 75¢. I was surprised when we got home last month to see I had been charged 1% on each withdrawal, but evidently that's not bad. No other charges, either.