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Credit/Debit vs. Cash

Hi all,
Heading to Rome for a month in September and I kept seeing various posts on how the Capital One Money Market account is good for international travel, so I looked into it, liked what I saw and ended up signing up. Question: since the account gives you an ATM card and NOT a debit card, I need to allot some money towards the savings to withdraw as cash at ATMs, and the rest of my funds toward my checking account so I can use my debit card as a POS purchase. Any suggestions/comments/ideas/personal experiences on how much I should allot to each account? I know you can't give me an exact amount, but maybe a percentage, i.e. - 60% for cash withdrawel and 40% for POS purchases. Thanks!

Posted by
4152 posts

It really depends on a lot of things. If you are eating at smaller restaurants they will want cash, larger places will take charge cards. Coffee and gelati places take cash. A lot of the sites want cash. Smaller shops insist on cash. Basically, unless it is a larger store or restaurant they will want cash. They don't like to pay the credit card fee.

I would say 60-70% for cash withdraw and the rest for charging.

donna

Posted by
2876 posts

Monique,

The way I see it, since you can withdraw cash with either card, it doesn't matter.

Posted by
23465 posts

You should NOT use you debit card as a POS. And there is no advantage to do so and you do not have the protection given to a credit card. Cash is very popular in Europe. On our last trip of 33 days we only charged with a credit card two items. Everything else was cash from ATM. Use a debit card or ATM card for cash and credit card for purchases you feel you much charge.

Posted by
7737 posts

Agreed, you should not use your debit card for POS transactions. Use the Capital One card to withdraw the maximum cash each time you need cash. Then use your credit card for those large purchases that will take it. Italy is a much more cash based economy than the US.

We used a credit card for some restaurants and some hotels. Everything else was cash.

Also, make sure you use a credit card that allows you to pay off the full amount when you get the bill without having to pay interest. I've seen more companies coming out with cards that charge interest from the moment of purchase.

Posted by
16888 posts

"Question: since the account gives you an ATM card and NOT a debit card, I need to allot some money towards the savings to withdraw as cash at ATMs, and the rest of my funds toward my checking account so I can use my debit card as a POS purchase."

Now this has me curious. In a bank account with both a checking and a savings side, does an ATM card only take from savings, and a debit card from checking?

I always thought either one would take only from checking (in Europe, anyway). Am I wrong?

Would this explain why my husband's ATM card would not work the last time we were in Switzerland? He advised the bank in advance, and called them from Europe when we were there, but he still couldn't withdraw any money with it. I thought it was just a ruse to get me to pay for everything ;)

But maybe the problem was that all his money was in the checking account and needed to be in savings?

Posted by
2876 posts

Lola,

In a banking account with a linked checking & savings account, an ATM card linked to your savings will only work if the savings account is your PRIMARY account.

European ATM's default to your PRIMARY account.

I believe your husband's ATM card did not work because it is linked to your savings account which is not PRIMARY.

Posted by
23 posts

I have a Schwab Visa Platinum Check Card. Is this a good card for travel within Italy that will eliminate fees?

Posted by
16888 posts

Thanks, Tom. That helps. I'll make sure we know which account is primary for each debit card we take. (I've never had the least problem with my credit union debit card; the problem was with my husband's US Bank card).

Posted by
712 posts

Thanks all!

Lola - in addition to what Tom said, the card from Capital One does not have the Visa/Mastercard logo so it can only be used to withdraw from ATM.

Tom - even though I can withdraw from both, I guess since I can use Capital One without the extra fees that my regular bank charges, I want to stick to withdrawing cash using that card and use another card just for POS. Before this post, I thought that "other card" would be the debit card linked to my checking account, but it seems like that isn't wise and I should use a credit card.

Sounds to me like I should plan on using more cash than anything. For anyone who has used the Capital One card, how long did you find it took to transfer funds from say, a checking account, to the Capital One account (via online banking)?

Posted by
1170 posts

Take a small initial amount of cash, 250 Euro, and replenish as needed at ATMs. Cash is King! Be sure to notify your bank's SECURITY DEPT. to let them know you will be using your card overseas. Also, get your daily ATM withdrawal limit increased to the maximum allowed.

I always bring a backup ATM/debit card linked to a separate account just in case the primary card is lost or stolen. In that scenario, you can go online and transfer funds from one account to the other to keep your account from being wiped out.

Posted by
2876 posts

Monique,

Your plan of using an ATM card plus a credit card is the best method.

The disadvantage of a debit card vs an ATM card is this: an ATM card and a debit card both require a PIN for withdrawing cash, but a debit card does NOT require a PIN for making purchases. Therefore, if your debit card is stolen, someone could theoretically wipe out your account without knowing your PIN.

Posted by
769 posts

Id say never use the ATM for purchases since if they make a mistake youre out the cash until the fix it. A Credit Card is easier - or just pay cash. In my opinion the ATM is JUST for ATM withdrawls and back in your money belt until the next need at ATM!

If youre worried about too much cash in the account - have a savings hooked up to the debit/atm checking and keep say 1000 in it... then if you needed more call your bank or log on via web and transfer more. Atms cant reach savings accounts (I read somewhere but also never saw an option to change accounts on an ATM in euroland!)

Posted by
769 posts

DARI - yes your Schwab works fine - just tried mine in Italy - nice that they refund all fees and charge just the 1% for Visa. ANy other fees are put back. Cheaper than the BofA (which has deals with some banks but still not as cheap!)

TOM

Posted by
7737 posts

Monique, I find it takes about 3-4 business days to transfer money into my Capital One money market online from another account. You'll need to "register" these other accounts online first with Capital One, though, and I think that took a couple of weeks to do.

When you set up a transfer, the Capital One site will tell you when the transfer will be completed. I recommend putting all the money you think you will need into the MM account a couple weeks before you leave.

Posted by
1003 posts

No, No, No, do not use your debit card for POS purchases. Get a Cap. One c.c. if you want to use a card. Know of someone who did this and their # was swiped and it was a nightmare!