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Using ATMs

Just an FYI, and I couldn't find a current note on it. While in Hungary, I took out money at ATMs twice, both at major Hungarian banks (K+H, and I can't remember the other off the top of my head). I denied the DCC offer, and the exchange rate was similar to the day rate of xe.com. However, both banks added around $15 USD in "charges" to the transaction (not shown on screen). Since I took out the same amount of Forints each time, I'm not sure if those charges are variable or not. Ended up being around 275HUF/USD instead of the day rate of 289HUF/USD.

Posted by
13299 posts

Matt, are you absolutely, positively, sure there was no information on the screen? I'm surprised that any country's banking laws would allow that. I've been threatened with ATM fees many times in many different countries (at which point I normally just cancel the transaction), but I've never been subjected to an undisclosed fee. I spent 3 weeks in Hungary last year, but I don't think I used a K+H Bank ATM.

These days the fee information tends to show up late in the transaction, often on the same screen that offers dynamic currency conversion, so it's easy to overlook in the sea of numbers--perhaps intentionally so.

Posted by
11 posts

I would like to say with 100% certainty that there was no fee listed in the small print. I know that both my receipts only had the amount that I took out listed, with no additional fees. When the charges registered on my bank at home (BofA), there were three: 1) the HUF with appropriate change fee
2) a $5.00 KH Bank Budapest fee
3) a $10.41 KH Bank Budapest international transaction fee

It is possible I missed something on the screen, but I really don't think so.

Posted by
8063 posts

Are you sure those fees weren't charged by your bank (foreign transaction fee because KH Bank Budapest is a foreign bank)? If the charges are in $, they are unlikely to be by the Hungarian bank, as they would be charging your card company in HUF, who do the conversion to $.

Posted by
284 posts

Those fees are from Bank of America, and not the Hungarian bank or ATM.

Bank of America will charge a flat $5.00 fee for using the foreign ATM (similar to the flat $2.50 fee you’d be charged for using a non BofA ATM at home), along with a fee of 3% of the transaction (same as the 3% fee you’d pay if using the debit card on an actual point of sale transaction at a restaurant or store while abroad). So you’re essentially getting hit with both of the potential Bank of America foreign transaction fees.

Edit - this mentions it as well here:
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/debit-card-foreign-transaction-international-atm-fees/

Posted by
4356 posts

I agree with the conclusions given. If your bank is showing the fees, then they are the ones charging them. Otherwise, it would just show as a single transaction. The other tip-off is that the flat rate is an even $5, same fee BofA uses, and it would be very odd that a fee from an Hungarian bank charging in Forints would come out to exactly $5.

Doing a bit of back calculation, I would say you took out 100,000 Forints each time (assuming BofA's 3% FTF)

Posted by
1948 posts

I’m here in Budapest now and always use OTP, I have a Chase debit card so there’s a $5 fee, but that’s it.

Posted by
9192 posts

I have a BoA Debit Card and have never paid those fees. I am in their Wealth Mgmt group and that might be why. But I will check and make sure nothing has changed before I return in a few weeks.

Thanks for the Heads Up

Posted by
5562 posts

It's a bit of a generalization to say B of A, or Chase, or any other debit card charges x amount. It really depends on what type of account you have with them, some upper level accounts waive those fees for customers that meet certain qualifications. Before traveling check with the bank/s you have debit cards with to see what the fees will be and if that's too much for you, check around for other options. Some banks charge just a percentage, some charge just a flat fee, some charge a combination of both, and some don't charge any - it pays to research.

Posted by
11 posts

You guys are totally correct. Fees match exactly as noted on the NerdWallet link. This is my first trip using a BofA card. I usually use WellsFargo (which, like James, we have "premium" status), and I am used to seeing one fee, the fact there was two made me think that it was a fee associated with Hungary. Thanks for clearing it up, and I will check fees a bit more thoroughly. (And the reverse math was correct!)

Thanks for all the feedback!

Matt

Posted by
18 posts

Matt, I usually just bring dollars and exchange it for Forints that way there is no transaction fee.

Posted by
13299 posts

In the most-visited (western) European countries, changing US currency into local currency gets you a dreadful exchange rate. I can't say for sure that the same is true in Hungary. I have occasionally seen a decent-looking exchange rate posted at an exchange booth in a former Iron Curtain country; however, I have never inquired as to whther those particular enterprises charge fees.

Posted by
4356 posts

Matt, I usually just bring dollars and exchange it for Forints that way there is no transaction fee.

If you believe that, you need to do some more investigation. You may not pay a separate "fee" but they get you in the exchange rate. I would bet that if you took $100 US equivalent from an ATM (no fees or charges) you would get about 28,700 Forints, at an exchange counter, you would do no better than 27,400, and maybe closer to 26,000 Forints.