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cash from ATMs

I'm preparing to follow RS advice and withdraw Euros from an airport ATM upon arrival in France.

What size (denomination ) bills will I get from an airport ATM? I'm worried about them being in large denominations that will be difficult to use. Does anyone have recent experience about how the airport ATMs dispense their cash?
Thanks

Posted by
2246 posts

Bob, I think you will find that atm's will give a mix of denominations. You can in some cases hedge your bets by, for example, requesting 480 euro instead of 500. For subsequent atm withdrawals, using a bank atm when the bank is open (in case it eats your card or other issue) is a good idea, and that is not to dissuade you from grabbing cash first thing at the airport.
Dave

Posted by
427 posts

Thanks for the input.
George, we will be staying in B&Bs the first 5 nights and that is why I'm apprehensive about large bills. Unlike a hotel, I'm not sure that the B&B host(s) will be able to handle them.
Dave, I think it's smart to use bank ATMs when the bank is open and will do so whenever possible. I've seen that advice on this site as well as the advice about getting your first Euro draw at the airport (that's in the RS guidebooks). The airport draw does seem to contradict the advice about using bank ATMs (while the bank is open).

Posted by
9110 posts

ATMs give mixtures of bills.

A bank ATM is fine whether it's attached to the bank building or not.

Anybody can break a hundred.

Posted by
12040 posts

They give a mixture of bills, but if you withdraw more then €100, you'll probably get at least two €50 notes. But not to worry, it's not difficult at all to pay with them. Other than the obvious vending machines, the only other circumstance I regularly encounter where I can't use them is using a parking automat. Whether or not an ATM is physically attached to a bank or not in Europe is immaterial, they're all operated by banks. Or at least, I've never seen one in Europe that isn't.

Posted by
118 posts

When I used the ATM's they gave you several choices of amounts or you can pick your own amount. Check with your bank what your daily maximum withdraw is. After I entered the amount I wanted the ATM gave options of denominations that I preferred. It was handy. Bob euros go quick so I would not be too worried about large bills. Good luck.

Posted by
427 posts

My original question was about the Euro denominations that I'll get from ATMs in France. Thanks verzino, it will be good if I can say what denominations I'd like.
I appreciate everyone's helpful responses, but some of what is being said here is at odds with what Rick Steves himself says. I don't want anyone to get incorrect information from reading this, so I'm gong to reference the RS advice below (you may take offense, but my bias is towards Rick being right).

In RS "Tips on Using ATMs in Europe":
- watch out for "independent" ATMs, which have high fees. Run by companies such as Travelex, Euronet, or Forex, these machines are often found next to bank ATMs in the hope that travelers will be too confused to notice the difference
- Try to use ATMs at banks during banking hours. If there's a problem, someone in the bank can probably help.
- Avoid ATMs that are not provided by a bank. Independent ATMs charge outrageous fees.
- In some countries (especially in Eastern Europe), an ATM may give you high-denomination bills, which can be difficult to break.

Yes, I realize France is not in Eastern Europe, but the RS comment doesn't say that high-denomination bills are ONLY dispersed in Eastern Europe. And it does say they can be difficult to break.
Again, thanks

Posted by
9110 posts
  1. Mr Steve's doesn't know everything about anything.

  2. No advice posted is contrary to your quote.

  3. The 'Try to . . . ' statement contains both a 'try' and a 'probably' related to an uncommon, unlikely, and improbable event.

  4. You asked a question and you got accurate answers. If you think conflict is extant, you lack understanding of the subject probably, most definitely the terms, and obviously the terrain.

Posted by
6604 posts

We have never received anything bigger than a 50 from an ATM in Europe-- and 50s are not hard to spend -- 100s and up ARE hard to spend.

Posted by
4672 posts

Countries that prior to the euro had a culture of circulating high denomination notes have tended to keep this. Austria and Germany are good examples. Withdraw say €110 and you are as likely to get a €100 & €10 as much as any other combination. Other countries and France comes into this don't use notes over €50 to much extent.

Posted by
12040 posts

Travelex and the like are not ATMs, they're automated money exchanges. You only see them in airports, and most airports I've flown through have real AMTs (Copenhagen and Heathrow being two exceptions).

If Mr. Steves wrote that stuff about ATMs, which is completely different from my usual experience as someone who actually lives in Europe, I wonder what other weird advice he's pushing?

Posted by
4672 posts

Can't speak for the position in Germany, but in the UK Travelex certainly do operate ATMs - they are members of LINK and have to obey their rules. For example usage fees have to be shown 3 times, including a sign affixed to the machine before you start. Where people go wrong on these is not to refuse DCC by accepting the rate offered by Travelex. Always refuse conversion.

Posted by
2353 posts

Travelex, Euronet & Forex ATM's are like regular ATM's only more expensive - you put your bank card in and get cash back in the currency of your choice - you can use either your bank card to withdraw from checking or savings or a credit card (which is a whole other kind of expensive). They are not owned by a bank - they are independently owned
.
The point of using an ATM that is attached to a bank and using it during banking hours is IF the ATM swallows your card you can walk inside the bank and get help to retrieve it - maybe.
.
These days when most ATM's work by just inserting & quickly removing your card the above scenario does not happen - not too may years ago when you put your card IN an ATM and it would suck it in and not spit it out until your transaction was complete there was the risk of the ATM keeping your card.

Posted by
27707 posts

*These days when most ATM's work by just inserting & quickly removing your card the above scenario does not happen *

Where do you just insert and quickly remove your card? Maybe in North America? Nowhere that I have used an ATM in western or central Europe or the UK gives the card back until the transaction has been approved and it is kept within the machine until it is returned. Removal of the card after the transaction goes through triggers the money coming out of the machine, followed by the (optional) receipt.

In the UK there are many third party ATMs in shops, cinemas, petrol stations, service areas on motorways, shopping malls among others and they often do have significant fees. They are clearly labelled.

Bank associated - virtually all free at the machine - ATMs are scattered all over, too.

Posted by
6604 posts

In the US, it keeps the card until the transaction is completed as well. Credit cards in machines are withdrawn quickly e.g. gas pumps, but not ATMs in my experience.

Posted by
4672 posts

In high traffic places 'independent' ATMs can sometimes be fee-free, since they can pay their way on the high volume on the interconnect fees they get from the cardholder's bank. This may also be a condition of the place where they are located. An identical machine placed in a shop in an adjacent street might charge. So it isn't reliable to judge just on the basis of the operator as to what the fee is, or whether there is one at all.

Posted by
16723 posts

@Janettravels44. Here in the boonies of Wisconsin, all the ATM's are in-out, then proceed with the transaction.

As previous poster mentioned, in Europe almost all ATMs suck your card in, you enter language, then PIN, then transaction, the machine returns your card, you remove, then the cash is dispensed.

Posted by
2353 posts

Memory is not what it used to be - I am so used to the ATM's here in TX where it is a quick in & out I probably just forgot the ATM's keeping my card. I guess I figured the Europe is usually ahead of us in that type of thing surely they must be the in & out types and not the keep your card type!

Posted by
3681 posts

Lots of Travelex-operated ATMs in UK airports which, to be picky about it, are in Europe. The cost may be a little higher, but the basic fees (as opposed to exchange rates) are set by the bank back home that issued the card. Eat the cost for the sake of convenience. Take out a decent amount if you need it; then get more from a machine at the bank near where you are staying. And be glad that you aren't wasting time trying to find a place to change traveller's cheques like in the old days.

Posted by
12040 posts

"Where do you just insert and quickly remove your card?" Nigel, I've encountered a few in Belgium and Germany. You insert the card, enter your PIN, and then the card ejects before you continue the transaction.

Posted by
16723 posts

Since most European credit and debit cards are PIN & Chip, the ATM must maintain contact with the chip while information is being transmitted. Thus they use the "suck it in, spit it out" mechanism. When using P&C cards in vending machines (transport tickets, gas stations, toll booths, etc), the card stays in the machine during the transaction as well, until you are instructed to remove it.