I'm going to Italy in May and have started researching getting a card to use there. I live near Chicago, Illinois and that seems to be a problem with using the talked about Commerce Bank card. The Commerce branches in Illinois do charge fees. I was also told there is a difference between ATM & Visa debit card. Which should I use and where should I go to get the best card?
I am not sure if I completely understand your question. You want to use a debit card for cash. Who issues the card is not as important as the network that is used. The most common networks in Europe is Plus and Cirrus. The will be no fees charged in Europe for use the ATM machine but the network and your card issuer may charge fees. There is a one percent network fee that is charged and buried in the exchange rate. You will not see that. The card issuer -- both debit and credit -- may charge a variety of fees -- a flat fee for usage, a percentage fee commonly called a currency conversion fee, etc. or a combine of fees. Get a clear understanding of these fees from the card issuer by asking lots of questions. Some credit union are reported not to charge conversion fees -- mine does. At the moment the Capital One credit card does not charge. The Schwab card is reported to rebate the network fees. There is no single answer to your question.
This might help http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/cc/20050624b1.asp
It is most advisable to use your charge card for rooms and retail purchases and your ATM card for cash withdrawls. Use cash for meals where you can. It is strongly suggested that you do not use your Visa or Mastercard for cash withdrawls as this is considered a loan and interest usually begins right away.
Note that Plus and Cirrus symbols are most likely on your ATM card. Plus and Cirrus are trademark logos for Visa and Mastercard respectively.
With few exceptions, banks and networks will charge fees on your transactions. I understand that Capital One does not charge fees on ATM transactions. Washington Mutual charges 1%. Others can be as high as 3%. On charge cards, you will see fees as high as 3%-5% over and above the exchange rate on your credit card statement. It's hard to escape the charges and fees.
I signed up for a Schwab Bank account that does two things... pays a good interest rate on the balance... and has a debit card that charges zero currency conversion fees and also rebates all transaction fees (including international transactions). I will be using it in Italy in March. dgr
the debit card has the PLUS and INTERLINK symbols on the back and a U.S. number (with area code) and instruction to call the number collect from out of the states.
Internet banks such as USAA and ING generally have better deals than most banks.
EDIT - After investigation, I take it back about ING. They charge 2%. USAA doesn't charge, I believe.
Look into a credit union. Both of my credit unions offer a Visa debit card linked to a checking account. No extra fees for ATM withdrawls, even in Italy (the bank fee is included in the exchange rate they use). I had no problems in 21 days in Italy using these cards - just make sure you know your daily cash withdrawl limit and have a 4 digit PIN that is not letters (numbers only). Also make sure you call your bank BEFORE you go to tell them where you'll be using it.
An ATM card does not have a Visa symbol, and also likely doesn't have any connection to a Plus or Cirrus network (thus the drawback to using overseas - you can't).
True you can get an ATM card without the Plus or Cirrus logo but you may not be able to use it in Europe. It's not your credit union that processes the transaction, it's a profit-making network. Most ATM cards DO HAVE either the Plus or Cirrus logos on the back. Turn yours over and see. You may even see the STAR logo which is a trademark of the First Data Corp which is one of America's largest pin-secured debit card networks.
Also, the credit unions and other organizations may not charge you fees but the networks over which the transactions take place may place their charge. Very, very few are truly "free".
I went to Italy in September and used my Credit Union debit card, worked wonderfully, no fees at all. They only problem was that they didn't activate my card, even though I had called 2 times to make sure that the card wouldn't be blocked for use in Italy. Make sure that you have a good, international phone number to call the bank (CU) as that was my only problem. They gave me an 800 number which don't work overseas. It cost me $85 for a phone call to them, using a charge card, but you had better believe that they reimbursed me the charge. Just cross all of your "T's" and dot they "I's". No fees after I got everything straight.
Capital One does not charge any fees on a international charges. You may want to look into getting one for your trip.
Somonauk? Go Bobcats!
Linda....You've posted a tough question. There is lots of confusion out there. The correct answer depends on you and where you live.
If you belong to a credit union, check them first. Some of them, but not all, have very favorable arrangementss.
If you are retired or active military, check internet bank USAA. For those with military connections they are good.
I live in PA. There are some small, local banks that offer very favorable rates and services. I get a Visa debit card (a debit card charges your checking account when you withdraw at a ATM machine or make a purchase at a merchant.) I pay a flat fee of $5 per month for the card and for internet checking, 1% currency conversion fee on overseas transactions, and zero transaction fees locally. Check your locality.
For a credit card, check American Express. Widely accepted overseas, they offer 1% currency conversion rates. Another to check is Capital One. Some of their cards offer good rates but not all of them.
Also, let your bank know you will be out of the country! My bank had limit on my account as a fraud safeguard -- so you can imagine, with exchange rates as they are, a couple of withdrawls at an ATM quickly rendered my card useless.
We resolved the issue fairly quickly, but still.. just another hassle I didn't need on my honeymoon!
Wow, thanks everyone...lots of good answers. Unfortunately, not all of them I can use. I have no credit union, so that's out. Never been in the military, so that's out. But I do already have a Capital One credit card which I plan on using for big purchases. But my hotels want cash for RS discounted rate so this is where I was confused. But I looked into Capital One Money Market acct. and this will get me a ATM card to use unlimited cash withdrawals of $500 per day. That should work, I hope. Then I have a Citizens Bank checking account which I will be going to ask them if the card I use now to withdraw cash directly out of my acct. will also work in Italy and what the fees will be. I appreciate everyones help on this topic! SamSn, how did you know about the Bobcats being we are such a small little town that nobody's ever heard from?
I don't know what your spending habits are, but keep in mind that $500 is about 250 euro. If you are using cash at hotels and other places (maybe having a nice dinner or buying anything to bring home), 250 euro a day might not cut it!
We liked paying cash to avoid extra fees on our credit cards, so $500 a day, on some days, was not enough.
If you go back to the "Graffiti Wall" and look under "ATMs..." you will find lots of info from previous readers. At about $1.50 per Euro, $500 would yield about 333 Euros. You can make reservations at hotels that accept credit cards; then combine credit card use with cash from ATMs (Bancomats in Italy). Many of the smaller hotels in Italy insist on cash only. I hit the ATM every day if necessary, and store up hundreds of euros for those cash transactions. Money belt only, of course. I use CapitolOne for my credit card; they charge no fees for foreign purchases.
Swan, good call on the 333 -- just got back from the UK and still have the 2:1 conversion in my head. In my case, all it took was a phone call and a fax to get my daily ATM limit extended to $1500 a day. I had the money for the trip saved up and in my account, and I felt that was the better option than opening another account.
The plan is to leave on the trip with maybe 1000 euros for starters and then withdraw the 333 euros everyday until I feel I have enough to get me thru the days to follow. I too have the money for the trip saved up and will probably keep that money in the money market acct. and then some extra money in my checking acct. for any emergencies. Whatever is leftover after the trip can go back into savings but I want to have more than I can need there, just in case. It's too bad that this is all so complicating to the traveler. I did look up "ATM'S" in the graffiti wall and got nothing but more confused. It's really the only thing that has me worried. Thanks again to all!
I've heard that even though you might get your own bank to raise the daily limit, you still might hit a limit imposed by the operators of the ATM (and, yep, they're called bancomats in Italy).
Has anyone else heard that? Anyone have that experience?
a diversion: MARCO..u are almost right, for England..the conversion of 500.00 US is 252.00; BUT...for Italy right now it is 340.00!!
BTW: there is a cool website that auto converts you all should check out: www.xe.com..it gives the latest exchange rates.
Linda, there is really nothing to be worried about. You already know that with your Capital One card you will be able to get money in Europe, you need a 4-digit security code for Europe's ATMs, you will get the same rate banks pay, and you'll pay no fees. You're all set!
Just let the bank know before you travel so they don't see activity from Europe and freeze your account because they suspect fraud.
One more thing -- you can't withdraw exactly 333 Euros a day any more than you can get 333 dollars out of a US ATM. ATMs offer money in various packages so you might be able to get 250E or 300E but I seriously doubt you'll find one that offers random values.
Mike, I definitely will alert Capital One before my departure and also will see if they'll raise the $500 per day limit. But I'm not sure if that will help. If a machine in Italy will only give $300, can I go to another machine somewhere else in the city and get another $300 in the same day if my bank approves $600 instead of the $500? Also, I was using the 333 euro withdrawal only as an example of what Swan wrote about withdrawing the $500 limit and only getting 333 euro. Which leads me to this question...how does a $500 per day withdrawal limit work in the machines in Italy?
If i remember correctly, the max allowed to withdraw per transaction is 250 euro. What happened to me was when i went back later in the day for another 250 euro withdrawl the machine just said there was an error and ended the transaction. Thought it was a faulty machine, so tried a different one -- same problem. Finally called my bank and was informed that there was a $500 daily limit (which we ended up changing for our trip). Technically i had only withdrawn about $375, but that 2nd withdrawl would have put me over $500, so it was not allowed. I agree with previous posts - as long as you have a credit card and your bank (and credit card co.) know you're traveling, you're in the clear! Have a great trip!
Thanks Marco! That explaines a lot. Now I better understand how it works. Will definitely have the bank raise the limit.
One other tip. Even though you're now a prepared traveler and doing all the right things so very unlikely to have any issues at all, its useful to have a number to call your bank should the situation arise. So flip over your credit card and make sure there is a number to call that is NOT toll free; 800 and 888 numbers don't work from Europe. If it doesn't have one, call your bank to find out how to contact them from abroad.
Next, write that phone number down on a piece of paper you'll carry separate from your card. If a machine eats your card or some other problem happens, you'll want that number.
Thanks Mike for all the great tips! If you think of anything else, please write me.
This isn't in direct response to your question, but when we were in Italy in November we were startled at how many places wouldn't take a VISA card. This was about the same time Euro/Dollar exchange rate started to tank. Things were a bit tense for a while, as we'd counted on our VISA for most of our expenses. So when you plan to leave, make sure you have a clear idea of what the exchange rate is and how much each withdrawal will cost you. For us, each 250 euro withdrawal cost us approximately $360, and our credit union didn't assess fees.
I have a credit union account in addition to a bank acount and both my credit union account and my bank ATM/debit cards have a Visa logo on them--they are Cirrus cards and apparently have a Visa override in that if I were to buy something when there was not sufficient funds to cover--the VISA charge would kick in...did not really ask about it because don't over spend the card...
Have read on Trip Advisor Rome board that many people have asked for their local ATM limits to be raised when they go to Rome but they are not able to withdraw that higher limit at ATMs in town
so think there is something with the Rome ATMs
Yes Laura, you're not the first person that has stated this. I warned the other couple we're going with, who by the way, was going to put most of their expenses on their 0% credit card, that this isn't going to work and that they will need the money up front. I just sent your message on to them as a reinforment. Thanks for the tip!
Thanks for the tip Vicki. Since Rome is last on our itinery, I better try to get as much out of the machines before getting to the city.
With regard to the question of raising limits on one's 'permitted' daily withdrawal, or the question of some overseas daily limit beyond our control, I might suggest that there is another possiblilty that is easier to use and perhaps safer than attempting to anticipate your needs and withdrawal in advance. It is a bad idea to carry more cash than you need.
IF, big IF here, you are traveling with someone who shares the checking account (such as a joint account with a spouse), the co-owner may also get an ATM/debit card with a separate number (but on the same account). In that case, you are both entitled to whatever the daily limit is. This isn't for everyone but it may help some.
And learn the handy Italian question: "Possiamo pagare con carta di credito?"
It means "Can we pay with a credit card?"
It came in VERY handy when we were there. (You could shorten it to just "carta di credito?", and that would work, too.)
I think it is a good idea to always have two debit cards tied to two different accounts. If something goes wrong with one account you have a back up. Also two different accounts allow for two max withdraws in one day. Also have noticed in heavy tourist areas often the ATMs will have a max withdraw limited to prevent the ATM to be drained by money hungry tourist.
Linda, Hi I just returned two days ago from a 3 1/2 wk. trip in Ireland and Italy (Sicily, Naples and Rome). I suggest you get an ATM card to take cash out, which in Italy most of the places wanted cash except for the classier places. We stayed in some B & B's that also required cash. Only thing you have to watch is you are only allowed to get $200.00 (in Euro) per day. ... I have since noticed I was charged $5.00 (USD) in my account per withdrawl. However it's cheaper then credit card purchases (Mast. Card) is most known. They really tack on fees ...up to $14.00 per transaction and they can also hold your transaction for a couple days and they watch the rate and put it through when they can get the most for their money. I hope this helps and if you need more help please write back. Have a Great Trip!!!
Such handy tips from all of you....I so appreciate the advise and will make good use of them. Thank you George, Michael, Frank & Terri!