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Help Please ATM Cards

Hello, I arrived in Stuttgart this morning and I can't find an ATM machine compatible with my American Wells Fargo Visa debit. It seems that the American cards have a smaller chip. I'm staying at Motel One in Hauptbahnhof.

If anyone can guide me where to go or what to do, please let me know.

Thank you.

Posted by
6478 posts

I never had any problems using my American Visa debit card at ATMs in Germany and I never heard anything about different chip sizes. Exactly what message are you getting when you try to use it? Did you inform your card issuer that you were going to be using the card out of the country? Maybe you should call them?

Posted by
5115 posts

I have not had this problem with my American Debit cards. However, I think your best option at this point is to go into a bank and have them help you get cash with your ATM card.

Posted by
71 posts

Yes, I called my bank they said to use a machine that has access to the PLUS cards, I tried one but it didn't work. Maybe cause it was a deutsche bank.

We are going now to try others that I found online. Hopefully it'll work! Thanks for letting me know that yours work, it's a relieve, now I just have to find the bank that will accept it.

Thank you.

Posted by
310 posts

Hi ZPC- Is this debit card tied to a savings account or a checking account? A few years ( 7-8) ago I tried to use a Wells Fargo debit card at an ATM in Amsterdam that was tied to a savings account and it did not work. I pulled out a debit card tied to a checking account and it worked in the same ATM machine. Later WF told me their debit cards associated with only savings accounts would not work to withdraw cash from ATMs in Europe. I have never had any problems with debit cards associated with a checking account.

Have a good trip!!!

Posted by
3654 posts

It seems that the American cards have a smaller chip.

Pretty sure this isn't true.

Posted by
6869 posts

Look for machines that have Cirrus or Pulse stickers on them. Or try a different bank ATM.
Travelers use ATMs as their major source of spending money. I use my credit cards first--for everything possible--so as few ATM withdrawals as possible are made.

Posted by
1179 posts

It’s also possible that the pin isn’t enough.

If you have a 4 digit pin you may need to add a 0 at the end to convert it to a 5 digit pin.

Posted by
27710 posts

I have never had trouble with a 4 digit PIN. Chip sizes are not different. In fact a US card with no chip and a magnetic stripe will work just fine in an ATM.

Either your account is blocked because you didn't notify them of international travel or they neglected to flag the account, or the linkage is wrong, or the ATM takes no non-local cards (happens a lot in France and Italy but not much in Germany) or it is a finger fumble. The card needs to be taken back before any money comes out, and the receipt if any comes after the money.

Posted by
3491 posts

Use the exact PIN. Don't add or remove any digits or it really won't work.

Make sure you are using a BANK owned and operated ATM. That means if all else fails, go into a bank lobby where you see ATMs instead of using a stand alone ATM.

Also, if you would share the error message the ATM shows it might be helpful in determining the issue if one of us has seen that before.

My guess with the limited info provided is that Wells did not enable foreign access on this account. Did you inform them of your travel plans either through their online site or over the phone or in person? Even if you did, they may not have completely enabled the card.

Posted by
21041 posts

I had an ATM problem in Quedlinburg, Germany, in 2015. The same card I had been using for about 8 weeks wasn't accepted at a couple of local ATMs. I don't remember what sort of message I received, but I thought something strange was happening, so I checked with a bank staffer. It turned out that the bank's ATMs didn't like some (most? all?) American ATM cards for some reason. The employee gave me a specific suggestion for a different ATM. I don't remember whether it was another bank or the post office. That worked. I continued traveling in Germany and didn't have the problem again.

I agree that since Stuttgart is apparently the first attempt to use the card on this trip, it's likelier to be a problem related to the Wells Fargo end of the transaction.

Posted by
18298 posts

Is this the first time you tried to use that card in Europe? Did you just arrive? Has it worked over there before this failure?

Posted by
4534 posts

Definitely ignore the "advice" about adding a zero to your PIN. Your PIN and your PIN only will work in an ATM.

If definitely has nothing to do with the chip. Those are standard in the industry.

Bank employees are unlikely to be of much help solving your issue, especially if it is something with your bank.

I occasionally have ATM machines that don't work for me - I'm never sure why and just move on to a different machine (be sure it is a different bank).

Be sure to follow the instructions on the screen exactly. Some machines require you to leave the card in the machine, some you swipe.

If all else fails and you need cash, you can use your credit card for a cash advance (if you have a PIN for that). Obviously that comes at a cost, but it is a backup plan.

Posted by
86 posts

Hello and I'm so sorry that you've had problems. I thought I'd just quickly write you and tell you that there are indeed different size chips. I was just gathering my cards together and my Fidelity debit card chip is almost half the size of my Marriott rewards card. So, you are not wrong! Good luck!

Posted by
1355 posts

My daughter, like Kenneth, once had trouble with a card linked to a savings account. I have not seen a response to his input. Luckily we had cards linked to checking accounts and there was no issue with them. Gary

Posted by
3021 posts

I stayed at Motel One Hbf in Stuttgart in December. I used the nearby Deniz Bank ATM* after hours and could not get my VISA debit card to work. I returned during business hours, and it worked fine. Don't know why.

*go out the Motel One doors and turn left; cross Kronenstraße; continue straight a short distance and it's on the left

Posted by
71 posts

Yes, I was able to get some euros. I went to ATM's that accept the PLUS logo on the card, which I didn't know about until I called Wells Fargo from my hotel. The only thing now is that I have a max of $200 and before I left I went to the bank and they upped my withdraw amount. I will call again tomorrow when I arrive in Venice! The only reason I can think of is that these banks have a max of $200 for everyone. I went to Asia several years ago and I never had all these issues.

Posted by
5784 posts

Good news. Good to know why your card didn't work.

BTW there are two limits on ATM cash withdrawals. One is the daily limit that your bank/financial institution imposes. For Americans, the daily limit is denominated in US Dollars. The second is the ATM transaction limit. The Venice Airport ATM refused my request for 300 EUR but allowed me 200 EUR.

Posted by
3491 posts

A lot of ATMs have a per transaction limit that is not the same as your daily withdrawal limit on the card.

You can try multiple transactions to get more cash to see if it is the ATM limit you hit. If you can't get more money then it is your account limit you have hit. If it is the limit per transaction you have hit, nothing your bank can do will allow you to exceed that per withdrawal.

Posted by
781 posts

I have used my Wells Fargo ATM card linked to a checking account and have had no Trouble in Germany or other European Countries.
Mike