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Help! US debit card in UK problems

Help! Just when I thought I understood how to use my only debit card at UK ATM's I've hit a snag. I just came across a recent article dated May 14, 2019 https://www.touristbee.com/2007/12/use-your-atm-card-in-europe that said your Visa debit card should have a Visa Plus logo on the back and can be used at any ATM in Europe that runs on the Plus network. That I should find an ATM that displays the Visa or Plus symbol to withdraw my cash. It went on to say that even if the Plus symbol is missing from the back of the card, it will run on that network in Europe.

My Plus symbol is not only missing on the back, but it has two other networks indicated- NYCE and Money Pass. My card is from a small local bank and is closed at the moment. But an internet search of these two networks show NYCE only has ATM's in Canada and US. The Money Pass network is in US and Puerto Rico only. I also installed the NYCE ATM locator app and tried searching London. No luck. The closest one to London is in Connecticut!

Does anyone have experience with a card with these networks working or not working in London and Amsterdam? I called my bank last week and they said there is a fee for ATM withdrawals, but I honestly don't think they considered the network their card runs on may not work in Europe. At least they never mentioned it to me. I leave for London in 15 days and now I'm thinking I'm going to have to carry from the US whatever foreign currency I think I'll need. I am not a happy camper right now. Can you good folks on the forum help me sort this out?

Posted by
3110 posts

Does your card have the Visa Symbol on it? I got a little lost in your post.

Do you also have a credit card that you could charge some items and reduce need for cash?

Posted by
4418 posts

Since you’ve got 2 weeks before you leave, if your current card won’t work, maybe there’s time to scramble and come up with a Plan B. Can you call your bank tomorrow, and clarify if they say the card will work in the UK and Netherlands, and under what network(s)? Do they have any kind of tie-in with any UK or Dutch banks or a definite common overseas network, even if it’s not a VISA+ ?

Worst case scenario, is it possible to open an account at another bank that can offer a workable ATM card, and get the card into your hands before you depart?

I hope your card will work. My gut sense from what you’ve said is that it’s a fine card for ATM withdrawals within North America, but it could be doubtful that it will work for you in the UK and Netherlands, and some alternative will need to be procured in the next 2 weeks. Hope it all works out and your trip goes smoothly!

Posted by
4514 posts

NYCE has a recipical agreement with Link, which is the network for more or less all ATMs in the UK. Can't speak for the Netherlands though.

Posted by
30 posts

A couple of years back I opened a checking account with capital one 360 because they didn't charge a foreign transaction fee to use out of network ATMs while in Europe and my local bank did, to the tune of $10 or so each transaction. I also liked the idea of having a checking account with just the amount of money that I'd be expecting to use while traveling, and keeping my everyday checking account totally separate from the card I would take for travel. At the time, I believe Capital One also would reimburse on your monthly statement if you were charged anything by the foreign ATM for a transaction, in addition to not charging anything from their end. I don't know if this is still the case. I did everything online and they sent me my new card very quickly. I don't have a physical capital one location in my state, but if you have one locally, you'd presumably get the card immediately upon opening an account. I had no problems withdrawing money throughout Europe and was never charged a fee for use. It might be worth looking into. Sorry, I don't know the answer to whether or not your existing card will give you trouble. For piece of mind, I personally would want a backup system, even if it charged some fees, so that I wasn't having to haul a lot of cash with me (and then pay either an exchange rate here or there, plus risk of theft or loss of your cash).

https://www.capitalone.com/bank/checking-accounts/online-checking-account/

Posted by
3451 posts

You want to make sure that your credit card works where you're going as well.

This probably is little comfort, but you are not the only person who has been confronted by the fact that their small town bank was not prepared to support foreign travel.

When you talk to your bank, make sure to talk to the highest person in the food chain. Tellers frequently have no clue. Even people above them are often ignorant. I had to tell some people at my local credit union that travelers checks were useless because you can't cash them anywhere overseas anymore.

If there's not a more sophisticated bank in your town, you may have to go to the closest place nearby. If there's a credit union that you can join, that could be a good alternative, but pay close attention to the details and make sure you can get your credit and debit cards right away.

You'll have to set up a new account and make sure you have enough money in the "checking" account to draw out cash in £ and € as needed.

I hope others will respond with some of the other options that are not location dependent. I know nothing about those.

I belong to two credit unions, one in WA and one here in AZ. The local one is good for everyday banking, but the WA one is better for travel.

Good luck. I hope you can get this sorted out pronto.

Posted by
1626 posts

Hi,

If you have a TDBank near you or fairly close, you can open a checking account and get a debit card that same day.

It's called TD Convenience Checking. All it takes is $100 to open the account (including your ID and money of course.)

https://www.td.com/us/en/personal-banking/checking-accounts/convenience/

Once the account is initiated, you choose an easy to remember, 4-digit PIN.

The CS rep makes a debit/credit Visa card for you same day.

The following is very, very important:

  • In order to avoid any penalty, you must have $100 overnight balance in your account. If not, at Midnight, your account will be hit with a fee.

It's good to pad/buffer the account. You can set up balance alerts.

There will be a foreign ATM withdrawal fee. But, you can use it as a "credit card" for purchases in stores and restaurants (exchange rate applies, but no fee.)

Keep in mind that withdrawals converting US dollars into Euro/pounds or other foreign currency, plus ATM fee, will affect your balance.

Again, a reminder that whatever money you may/will have in the account, make sure your balance never drops below $100USD. (Keeping in mind any exchange rate and ATM fee.)

Some of the bigger branches sell Euro for a decent exchange rate. They have smaller denominations - 5, 10, 20, and above. I don't know if they sell or can obtain Pounds.

You may like the smaller euro denominations as a starter. Foreign ATMs will most likely give you bigger bills.

For TD customers, there is a smaller "buy" fee compared to the general public. If they don't have euro in house at that branch, they can order it, no charge, and have it within 2 business days - usually.

Of course the above reference for euro is if you'll be traveling through or to other countries also.

With just a week or so to look for or open a new debit/credit checking account, it's best to start working on this right away.

Good luck whatever you choose.

Have a good trip.

And, don't forget a money belt or neck wallet or some other security measure to store your extra money, passport, or credit card.

Adding: If there is no convenient TDBANK near you, I believe you can open the Convenience account on line - double check for restrictions. The Visa card will be sent by mail, of course. It would be about 5-7 days upon account approval.

Posted by
1520 posts

In addition to calling your bank, I'd also contact the NYCE network people - https://www.nyce.net/financial/productsandservices/atm as it appears they are affiliated with some of the armed services, which often need to provide world wide access. But you should also open a new account with another bank as a back up plan (it's wise to have more than one option for money). Even my tiny credit union can make an ATM card on the spot, so it is possible to do quickly. Also, if you can get some foreign currency ahead of time (are you an AAA member?), this might be a situation that merits a bit of cash on hand when you arrive.

FWIW, I have two ATM cards with Visa logo (both from credit unions). One has PLUS and Money Pass logo. The other has Maestro and the NYCE logo. Both have worked in every country I have traveled (Europe, SE Asia, and S. America). And it is no guarantee that a card will work even if there is a logo on the ATM. So if your card doesn't work, try another machine before giving up on the card, and then use your back up card.

And what fortune you discovered this information before you leave!

Posted by
3511 posts

This may be a repeat, but it is important to distinguish between ATM/debit and credit cards. Only in the most dire emergency should anyone use a credit card to withdraw money from a machine. The cash is regarded as a loan and will ring up extreme interest from the moment the currency is in you hand (my cc charges 21 per cent.) The ATM card draws your own money out of your checking account. Since you need to talk to your financial institution anyhow, ask if your cc can be used to buy stuff when you are in another country. Many banks want your itinerary in advance for security. And carry dupes of your cards, never in the same wallet. Chip-and PIN technology is a step forward. Canada's biggest bank is so confident that it no longer requires advance notice of travel.

Posted by
3444 posts

NYCE and Money Pass are what used to be called regional networks in the US. They mean nothing for your international card use. As long as your card has a Visa logo on it, it should work if whoever issued the card allows international use. Plus has always been part of the Visa organization. It was absorbed under the Visa brand a few years ago so doesn't appear as a separate logo much any more. The article quoted is somewhat outdated, but does contain good information in general.

Use the Visa ATM locator and you will find a huge number of ATMs you can use. https://www.visa.com/atmlocator/

Posted by
287 posts

Like kjones I also use a Capital One 360 Checking account for ATM withdrawals when I travel. It's functioned perfectly for me in all destinations. Capital One also offers 360 Money Market Savings accounts which offer 2% APY which is certainly a good balance to volatile 401K's. Capital One makes it easy for you to notify them online of your travel plans. I've been impressed with both their online and personal interactions.

Posted by
42 posts

Thank you all! My bank told me verbally that my card works on the Cirrus network, but nothing in writing. So I opened a Capital One 360 checking and my debit card will be here by Monday 27th, 10 days before I leave. Ill be taking both debit cards for cash. Also, a Mastercard and two Visa (fee free) credit cards for routine charges- no cash advances!!!

I will follow up on all your other suggestions. You guys are great!

Posted by
8009 posts

Do use your new debit card a few times here before you leave.

My "backup" debit is thru my Edward Jones Money Market account and I don't use it except for foreign travel. About a month before I travel I use it a couple of times at the grocery store to get the cobwebs blown out, hahaha.

I'd take your CU Debit card with you as well just to see if it works.

I've found the same thing as Jane at my small local CU. The tellers have no idea and just parrot back something they learned but most have never traveled so they don't know how things work. Now there is one teller who HAS gone to Europe a couple of times so I try to get her if I have questions. If she can't answer them and has to ask someone at least I have confidence that she'll know if the answer she gets is reasonable and if not will ask follow up questions.

ALSO, if you take your CU debit card make sure they know you are going to UK as my CU security company has this flagged for a possible fraud area (don't even get me started on this stupid-ness) so they have to do an extra step to "open" the card up for use.

Posted by
119 posts

Before traveling to Ireland & Northern Ireland last fall, I notified our banks of our travel plans. Arriving in Dublin I got money at the ATM from my two accounts. Everything went fine as we traveled through Ireland, but when we crossed the border into Northern Ireland neither of my ATM cards (from the same bank) would work. I had an e-mail address for a specific person at the bank and contacted her. Never heard from her! I e-mailed my son & asked him to contact the bank and after some back & forth, I was told to call the bank. I didn't want to do that, so finally my bank activated my cards again. Apparently the bank did not know that Northern Ireland is part of the UK! I do live in a very small town. My husband was able to use his ATM card from another bank, but our travel funds were not in that account! So, contrary to my usual policy, I began using my Capital One cc any time I could, and there were no problems with it. On previous trips I have had problems with ATM withdrawals, including demagnetizing of the cards. It seems that I must be certain that my husband is traveling with me for backup!

Posted by
2 posts

I noticed that several people have recommended ATM/debit cards from Capital One 360 checking accounts. I am looking for a good ATM card option, preferably one with no fees, for my travel to the Netherlands and Germany in August. I had been using an Aspiration card for international travel but they let me down badly on a trip to Guatemala in April, and I don't trust them any more. The Capital One 360 account caught my eye because they advertise a no-fee checking account. But you must use their card at an ATM in their network and they don't reimburse for use at other ATMs. There is an ATM locator on their website but it seems to be US only. My question: has anyone used a Capital One ATM/debit card recently and were you charged a fee to use an ATM in Europe? Thanks for your help.

Posted by
4697 posts

Open a Schwab brokerage account, and you can get a free checking account with debit card. You don't need to invest with the account, but you need to fund it with $100 (which you can't take out at the ATM; e.g. if you want to have 500 euros available in Europe for withdrawal, deposit about $700 in your Schwab checking account, $100 of which must remain). No fees or currency conversion fee; any ATM fee you are charged is refunded.

Posted by
4506 posts

I leave for London in 15 days and now I'm thinking I'm going to have to carry from the US whatever foreign currency I think I'll need.

That is not a bad backup plan if you haven’t been able to get a debit card that works in Europe.

I just got back from 9 days in England. and I paid for almost everything with a credit card. I used less than 40 GBP in cash. I used cash for London Walks and a few small purchases. I didn’t actually need to use an ATM the entire trip as I had GBP left from my last trip.

Posted by
4418 posts

OK, dremr58, I’m curious, as the USPS wasn’t delivering mail on the May 27th Memorial Day holiday . . . but did your new card arrive on May 28th? Still time before your trip, if it takes another day or two. Sounds like you’re set for a great trip, and having workable cards won’t be a concern!

Posted by
32 posts

I have used a Capital One 360 debit card at ATMs in the UK, Ireland and France (to withdraw cash in the local currency) since 2016 and I've never been charged a transaction fee. I have used it at the machines in Paddington station and at bank ATMs. I just deposit $1000, or whatever I expect to spend, into the account before leaving. (This way, the larger balance in my primary checking account is never at risk.)

In Iceland last summer I used it as a debit card for every little purchase and never got any local currency. When I got a message that my balance was getting low, I instantly transferred another $300 from my Capital One 360 savings account, using their iPhone app.
I've been very satisfied with this arrangement.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks, Andrew H. I just saw information about Schwab in a different forum and now you confirm that. It looks like Schwab will fit my needs perfectly.