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Bank charges 3%?

Hi all,
I know withdrawing from ATM machines tends to be a better rate than converting cash when I get to Paris, but I just found out that my bank charges 3% for doing so on each transaction. Do you think it is still a better deal? Thanks for any thoughts!!

Posted by
1340 posts

Considering opening up a travel bank account. I used Capital One 360 and have never looked back. 3% can add up quickly.

Posted by
495 posts

Can you find a money changer charging less than 3%? Or more usefully one who pads their rate by less than 3%?

If not your bank is still a better deal.

(Finding a bank that doesn't charge a mark-up is, obviously, even better.)

Posted by
41 posts

Check with local credit unions. Typically no charge for withdrawals within their system. Mine uses NYCE, which is ubiquitous in Paris.

Posted by
5 posts

I should have added that I leave this afternoon :) Eek! So do you know if I am better exchanging US cash for Euros or an ATM withdrawal considering the 3%?

Posted by
495 posts

You almost certainly won't beat 3% changing cash so I'd go with the ATM.

If you really care you could take some US cash on spec. If you see a better rate change it otherwise bring it home.

Posted by
8164 posts

Get a better bank. If you have a bank that charges you a huge % just because they can, get a better bank. We did that and neither our ATM card from a small local bank or our credit card from Capitol One charges more than the built in 1%. You might find by the way that the 3% your bank charges is on top of the 1% already built into the money exchange system. Why do business with an organization that treats you like that, when there are alternatives. Converting cash will always be more expensive though even than the 3% you are now paying. We travel a lot and that 3% would really add up.

Posted by
27349 posts

The 3% charge will surely be a better deal than using a currency exchange booth somewhere. There aren't many of those around these days, but I noticed one a couple of days ago and paused to take a look at the US dollar to GB pound rate. The difference between the buying and selling prices was 12-13%, which means you'd lose about 6% on each end of the transaction. I imagine the cost to buy euros would be pretty similar.

Posted by
1307 posts

If you have a credit card that charges nothing (or maybe only 1%) on transactions, I would encourage you to charge everything that you can. You will pay 3% on your ATM cash but you can minimize your use of cash.
And have a great time!

Posted by
5837 posts

Yes, use credit card where accepted for significant purchases when you have a no or small FX conversion fee credit card (e.g. Capital One Visa transacts at essentially Inter-bank rate). Limit cash to small incidental purchases. If you convert to 300 EUR at a 3% markup the $10 USD or so FX transaction cost may not be worth your while opening an account that charges you less (1% or 0%). If you plan on doing more foreign travel, look for a better (cheaper) financial institution). And in any event, it's a good idea to have a back-up ATM/debit account.

Posted by
23420 posts

At 3% it is still cheaper and sometimes much cheaper than any money exchange bureau. Most exchange bureaus will charge sometime in the range of 10% plus or minus a point or two. It is best to find a bank that doesn't charge that 3% but even if they do it still not unreasonable and cheaper than other options.

Posted by
12172 posts

Mine is USAA, they charge a flat one percent on foreign ATM withdrawals. That seems to be pretty easy to find at credit unions and smaller banks.

The big banks are charging upwards of 3 percent plus a per transaction fee of $5.

There are some free options, like Charles Schwab, but they are probably only a good idea if the deposit balance or other requirements work easily for you.

If you don't want to change banks, consider opening a dedicated travel account at a credit union before your trip.

And yes, any currency exchange will cost even more than the 3 percent.

Posted by
4061 posts

If your credit card is from the same financial institution, you're probably looking at a similar charge for foreign purchases in stores etc. Check the fine print to compare. It's too late now, but having plastic from two different financial institutions is more secure, whether a card is lost or a temperamental ATM rejects one of the cards.

Posted by
41 posts

Or when an ATM will not return your card on Friday night, and the bank doesn't open until Monday... BTDT

Posted by
5697 posts

Lots of good information for people reading this post -- but did anyone else notice that OP was leaving "this afternoon" ? Hope the 3% ATM charges don't impact the trip!

Posted by
7209 posts

Just go to your nearest Credit Union, verify their access with foreign ATMS, and open an account.

Posted by
3941 posts

Our main bank has affiliate banks overseas and if you use those bank machines, you don't incur the $5 out of system banking fee, and I'm pretty certain they waive the other fee as well. Our bank is partnered with BNP Paribas in France. Have you checked to see if your bank is partnered with any overseas?

Posted by
100 posts

Try your local state chartered banks; they may work, because they struggle for business. I use an ATM card from Burke & Herbert Bank and Trust, which is a Virginia bank. They give me free use of ATMs anywhere. I have used them without charge in France and Germany for the past three years.

Posted by
4535 posts

FYI - bradynate left for Europe yesterday. Piling on telling them to change banks will do them no good (and I think is poor advice anyway).

Hope the 3% ATM charges don't impact the trip!

If someone withdrew $3000 (a lot of a 1 or even 2 week trip), they would spend $90 in fees. While that might pay for a nice dinner, the fees hardly add up to anything that would impact someone's finances.

Posted by
5697 posts

@Douglas, that's kind of what I was implying - since OP had already left, the ATM charges were pretty much built in.