I will be in Europe for a month and would like to pay for many expenses with cash. What is a cost-effective way to do this ?
Using ATMs. Make sure your bank knows you'll be in Europe
What Doug meant to say was to use a debit card at an ATM. Don't use a credit card for cash advance except in an emergency.
That's what I meant to say...
And use a money belt.
i am sorry: i re-read the initial post..u are going to be gone a MONTH, that's a different horse..my bad.
I have a BofA check (debit) card. There is no foreign transaction fee at certain banks, so I use ATMs at Barclays Bank in Britain and BNP Paribas in France. If I can find a Deutsche Bank in Italy, I use it there.
I have been told that if I use my Bank of America debit card (VISA) that I will be charged 3% by VISA and 1% by Bank of America --- that's $40 on a $1,000 withdrawal !
I contacted my bank (Bank of America) and learned that I can in fact get a plain ATM card. However, when I use it, I would be charged a 3% "conversion fee" plus a "foreign" ATM fee. I can avoid paying the ATM fee by using an ATM from a bank which has an alliance with BofA. However, there appears to be no way to avoid the onerous 3% fee.
Lets put the "fee" into some perspective.. There is a cost of doing business with providing you with the convenience of good exchange rate, availability anywhere, anytime and very safe and secure. The fees have always been there but were buried in the exchange rate so you didn't see the fees being charged. A class action suit a few years foreced the fees to be "revealed." Now everyone complains because they thought it was free in the past. Not true. But what are the alternatives. Few !! Years ago we used to travel with travelers' checks. Expensive to acquire and sometime difficult to use. And you had to manage your funds carefully. If you ran out of money, you could not go to your bank and get more. If we carried cash, we paid poor exchange rates. And you had to deal with the security associated with carrying a lot of cash. Debit cards and ATM provide a l ot of convenience and flexibility at a reasonable price. Sure I always like to pay less but not always possible.
The Visa charge is 1%. If BOA is getting 3% go to another bank and open a checking account.
Let's put the "fee" in some perspective. Visa charges 1% for foreign conversion. The electronic notatation arrives at your bank in dollars just like every ATM transaction you conduct at home. What is the justification for your bank to add a percentage fee for foreign conversion when there is no conversion for them. You will notice that they have changed the language to "foreign transactions".
I am a BofA customer. I am also a WAMU customer. I used my WAMU debit card in Italy as they only charge 1%. On your statement, they call it a "foreign transaction fee. I'm looking at my WAMU statement. I would withdraw 200 Euro and the converted rate on my statement was $269.xx after it was converted. Conversion rate was a market rate. Nothing added on. Still, about a week after we returned, they posted a one-time $20 fee for international ATM withdrawls. I didn't find out what this was for.
As for BofA, it's the same 1% for the foreign transaction fee but they do add on a $5 fee for each withdrawl - not 3%. I'm looking at my statement as I write this message. They did not charge me a one-time $20 in the end as did WAMU. In prespective to a multi-thousand dollar trip, $60-$80 in fees from whomever is not a big whoop. It's less than a water taxi ride in Venice.
i just went to my bank b- 4 leaving , and made the cash conversion, bringing 1000 eu. with me...towards the end, [last 2 days], i did need to use my bank debit card, but got no "sticker shock" when i got home..[i was gone 15 days, and my bank is US BANK]
If you want to know what various banks charge look here http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/cc/20050624b1.asp
Swan is correct. BofA has banking relationships with Barclays in the UK and Deustchebank in Germany. If you use Barclay's ATMs in the UK or Deustchebank's in Germany, there is no fee. BUT, it has to be in the bank's home country. For example, this would not apply if you used a Barcla or Deustchebank ATM in Italy. BofA has no such reciprocal banking relationship with any bank in Italy despite the fact that BofA was founded by two Italians and prior to 1939 was known as the Bank of Italy. Go figure.
I used my VectraBank ATM card (both a regular checking/debit card and an ATM only card) and was NOT charged a foreign transaction fee; they always charges a $1 fee for using a non-VectraBank ATM. I did receive the interbank exchange rate which is the most favorable rate you can get.
When I used a VISA card from HSBC there was a 1% foreign transaction fee; that card also provided the best rate possible.
There were no other fees.
I put all these fees down to the same reason we are hit with a fee if we use an ATM card at an institution that did not issue it. That is, a tiny expense is used to justify a bit of profit grabbing. I don't believe it costs $5 plus 3 percent to process an instance of ATM use in a foreign country.
I might ask my bank if I could arrange an electronic funds transfer from my account to a bank in the UK, to be triggered by a phone call from me after arrival.
Larry--You're probably right about Deutschebank in Italy. However, several years ago I used my BofA card at a Deutschebank ATM in Sorrento. I was charged a fee by BofA, but then that fee was later cancelled. Maybe they were confused. Anyway, I never used DB in Italy again. I just get plenty of cash when I'm in France and don't usually need the ATM at all in Italy. I use a CapitolOne credit card when I can, otherwise it's all cash transactions for me. I'm probably going to open an account in a credit union, so I can make fee-free ATM withdrawals in Italy.
We opened up a Money Market account with Capitol One online so we can avoid some of the ATM fees when we go to Italy in December. We also got a Capitol One Visa card for the same reason.