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USD Cost of ATM Withdrawals in Rome

Just wondering what USD/Euro costs others in Italy are experiencing at the Bancomat ATMs. Yesterday a 400 Euro withdrawal cost me $485.33 as shown on my Chase account today. Subtracting the $3.00 transaction fee, that leaves 400 Euro costing $482.33.

That means $1.205825 buys 1 Euro. Are others experiencing this same USD/Euro cost rate?

Posted by
17636 posts

Sandra, Google gives me the current official rate as 1.17527, so it appears you did not get the official rate, unless the rate fluctuated wildly yesterday. I'm currently in pound land so cannot help with more info.

Are you sure you didn't accept dynamic currency conversion, with the ATM itself imposing its own exchange rate? That could cause a number like what you received.

Posted by
752 posts

I used the BNL Bancomat ATM yesterday and was not even given the option of dynamic currency conversion. Besides, I know to reject that anyway if asked.

The only other information I have is a recent exchange I made at Poste Italiane. They charged me $1.223456 for 1 Euro. I gave them $25.00 and from the 20.43 Euro resulting they then subtracted a 6.00 Euro Commission, giving me only 14.43 Euro from the original $25.00.

Posted by
8889 posts

Sandra, Ouch, changing cash, and for a small amount! I though you would have known better.

$1.205825 per Euro versus Acraven's "official" rate of 1.17527 (Google is currently giving €1 = USD 1.17) sounds like 3% difference, which is a typical "Foreigh Transaction charge". What charge does your bank add?

Posted by
752 posts

The $1.205825 cost of 1 Euro is based on $482.33. The total Chase Bank charge this morning was $485.33. So I had already accounted for and subtracted the $3.00 transaction fee before I did the calculation. So the $1.205825 cost of 1 Euro does not include the transaction fee.

Posted by
15683 posts

Doesn't Chase charge 3% foreign currency conversion? The rate varied during the day from 1.1792 to 1.1677. So that would indicate that at the time of the transaction, the Interbank spot rate would have been 1.1733, right at the midpoint.

Posted by
752 posts

So the 3% foreign currency conversion is on top of and in addition to the $3.00 transaction fee?

Posted by
15683 posts

Yes. Chase is a big bank that charges for everything. I use my local credit union account which has no ATM access fees and about a 0.90% foreign transaction fee. That is about the minimum, since Visa and Mastercard charge the bank that amount for using the clearing service.

Posted by
752 posts

Wow! That certainly explains it all. I wish I had planned better before I left the States. Thanks everyone!

Posted by
7201 posts

I have said at every chance on these forums to STOP using banks for ATM withdrawals. Just stop stop stop. Go to your local credit union and open an account.

Posted by
9477 posts

Charles Schwab Bank is also fee-free. No ATM fees ever, and no foreign transaction fees,

Posted by
2525 posts

If withdrawing euro now, the rate for me, using my bank debit/ATM card with 0% foreign transaction fee and nor other fee, is $1.179.

Posted by
1018 posts

We have a Charles Schwab Brokerage checking account, which does not charge a transaction fee and will refund any transaction fee charged. Additionally, the checking account is free and you do not need to invest with them. We've used them for years and would recommend using this system.

Buon viaggio,

Posted by
752 posts

Ok, no $3.00 transaction fee, but does Schwab charge the 3% foreign currency conversion fee? That's the killer fee.

Posted by
3437 posts

Capital One 360 also has zero fees on their accounts. ZERO. Whatever the rate is you see on Google is what they charge for foreign withdrawals. No minimum balances or minimum to open. Put money in only when you expect to spend it. Open this account online, just make sure it is the 360 option as other Capital One accounts do charge some fees.

And you got a good deal from chase. They charge me 5% + $5! ;-)

Posted by
6401 posts

This is discussed ad nauseum on this forum. I'm surprised that there are surprises in the end.

Everyone - please check your small print on your credit and debit cards before traveling. Don't assume anything...actually go and read your credit card/debit card terms (I keep a hard copy on all of mine). Bank with someone that doesn't rip you off, like a credit union. There are LOTS of choices out there. It's that simple.

Posted by
752 posts

OMG! Thanks for this detailed info Mark, it helps a lot. I have a couple of options to look into now. Thanks everyone!

Posted by
2911 posts

Also: CapitalOne 360 (checking/debit) will give you $25 for opening an account. I was extremely pleased with CapitalOne360 in Italy, I always got the going rate so no commission or fees (once I even got BETTER than the going rate). I did not have the same success in Germany, there was a 1.5% commission tacked on by any local bank with the same card, delivered in a lower exchange rate.

Posted by
752 posts

I'm definitely checking online and seeing what changes I can make from Rome. Thanks again for all the good info.

Posted by
20834 posts

At this stage of the game, Sandra, you may make changes. To open a new account while you are in Rome would be nearly impossible unless you are living there. You have posting on this site for a long time so I am surprised that you had not read about using ATMs abroad. I know you are listing Rome in your id but are you actually living in Rome or passing through?

Posted by
752 posts

I live in Rome, arrived August 8, 2017. My full-time job starts in September, I plan to open a Poste Italiane account for that job. But I still have to resolve the high costs of my Chase Bank account as it affects me here.
If I can sign up online, I should be able to make changes from here. The fact that I can transfer spending money to Capital One 360 sounds appealing.

Posted by
3437 posts

You can sign up online from practically anywhere in the world for the 360 account. BUT, you must have a US address for delivery of the Debit card and they still require travel notifications on the Debit card (but no travel notification on the Capital One Credit cards (which are also no foreign exchange fees)). Hope you have a trusty friend/relative in the US who could receive the card and then FedEx it to you?

Chase does offer no foreign exchange fee debit card options. You have to ask an account manager how to get yours reclassified as one of those. I did, took a while and several requests, but I now have one!

Posted by
752 posts

Yes I do have a very good friend back in Chicago. Thank you for the information on this Mark. I'll check with my friend to see if we can make this happen.

Posted by
752 posts

Mark, does no foreign exchange fee debit card mean no $3.00 transaction fee or no 3% foreign currency conversion fee? Or none of both?

Posted by
75 posts

I will chime in on Schwab as I have JUST opened and received our cards. I have spoken at length with the reps there and confirmed there are NO fees at all and if the ATM you withdraw from does charge you their fee it will be refunded by Schwab at the end of the month to your account. I was told it is not 'necessary' to notify them when travelling outside the US but it doesn't hurt to cover yourself. Also, should the card be lost, stolen or turn-off for a fraud alert they have 24/7/365 phone service which to me is a huge deal. I have been places and had my card declined and could not resolve it until the next business day or even over the weekend! Not all credit card companies have 24/7 phone service and you can forget about Credit Unions or Banks. Also, if you do lose or have your card stolen Schwab will even Fedex a replacement to wherever you are located. Just something to factor in when making a decision. According to the rep I spoke with they use the VISA conversion rate, https://usa.visa.com/support/consumer/travel-support/exchange-rate-calculator.html/?fromCurr=USD&toCurr=EUR&fee=0&exchangedate=08%2F18%2F2017&submitButton=Calculate+Exchange+Rates

Posted by
752 posts

That's Amazing! What a major difference in the cost of foreign currency withdrawals! So much cheaper than what I pay at Chase. Thanks for this information .

Posted by
752 posts

Does the Schwab account for travel purposes considered here have a specific name I should be looking for?

Posted by
4724 posts

Small note regarding Sandra's report: Because of U.S. banking regulations, sometimes a foreign transaction can be broken up into more than one line on the bank statement. So it's remotely possible that the flat fee and the 3% F.T. fee occupy additional lines - making it harder to figure out the actual "yield" of the conversion.

Posted by
5789 posts

If your bank adds 3% and most do, get a better bank. We dropped BoA when they started charging $5 for European ATM withdrawals and the 3%. They offered to not charge us the fee, but we were done. We now use a small local bank that does not charge above the 1% built into international exchange and they also reimburse fees we hve to pay to other banks for their ATMs. Our credit card, is one that does not charge the other 3% as Chase, BoA and others do. Don't do business with a bank that hoses you.

Posted by
75 posts

Sandra, Schwab requires you open a brokerage account then the free checking is open automatically. There is no minimum deposit for either account to open them. I should point out two important things to consider: 1) they do a hard inquiry on your credit to open the accounts 2) the set up to transfer $ into the account from your outside bank takes a little bit of time so make sure you do all of this at least couple of weeks before you are ready to travel. They will not send out debit cards until after a deposit is made to the checking account but they will fedex them overnight if you call and request that--I do not believe I was charged for that service. Call and speak to them about the fastest way to get the funds from your outside bank to them, one way is faster than the other (or you can pay the fee to have funds wired which would be immediate if you wanted).

Posted by
5457 posts

Also, Sandra, is there a possibility that you missed a notification about a €3 charge from the Italian bank (in addition to the Chase $3 transaction fee) -- it wouldn't show up as a separate line item on your Chase statement. In May we managed to get this on every withdrawal (OK because Schwab reimbursed on the next statement.)
Regarding Schwab, it's just a regular checking account, even though some use it as a "travel account" -- but I have heard of people not being able to open an account because of not having a U.S. address.

Posted by
752 posts

I did email a Chase banker for information on the charges, but nothing back yet. And I don't have a US address anymore. My address is Rome, Italy. I made a permanent move here for a lot of different reasons. I'll find out if that's an issue for Cap One 360 as well.

All of you have been great. I learned so much and will be able to make an informed decision now. Stay in touch and let me know when there's something I can do for you here. Just not in this heat. I've been hiding out these last few days.

And the vanishing toilet seats at Termini make it a lot harder to go out cause you gotta drink the water! Look for me behind a campaign to reinstall toilet seats at Termini! This is ridiculous!

Posted by
3437 posts

I was told by Chase that my card now has no fees for foreign transactions. No $3. No 3%. But I have not used it yet outside the US so I don't know for sure.

I do know that previously I had no fees on transactions at any ATM in the US, but that doesn't prove anything as far as foreign ones go.

Posted by
752 posts

My next email to that Chase banker will ask for that no fee debit card. Thanks for that information Mark.

Posted by
6 posts

I have a Schwab no fee ATM card. But when travelling in Japan and England and Europe with it, the issuing ATMs did not separate fees, so it was difficult to get any refund of fees and the exchange was way above the going rate.When I used my no transaction or int'l fee credit card, the exchange rates for purchases was about right. Any suggestions of what type of ATM to go to in Italy to get the best exchange rate? Thanks.

Posted by
752 posts

Oh Wow! I'm not at that level, knowing ATMs with best exchange rates! I was looking for an ATM that would just give me money!! Never used to be this hard.

I would think that a NO FEES card would give you the best exchange rate. The transaction and conversion fees raise the cost of Euro way too high!

Posted by
8889 posts

Oh Wow! I'm not at that level, knowing ATMs with best exchange rates! I was looking for an ATM that would just give me money!!

Sandra, the ATM's do "just give you the money", they don't have an exchange rate, they do not have an exchange rate. It is what happens after that that costs you.
The exchanging is done by the card company (Visa, Mastercard), hopefully at the interbank rate. Your bank then adds their foreign transaction fee.

  • You get €200 out of an ATM.
  • The ATM company possibly adds ATM fee (but most don't, you can avoid this by shopping around)
  • The card company (Visa, Mastercard) convert at interbank rate (today's rate, €1 = USD 1.18), €200 = USD 236.
  • Your bank then possibly adds a foreign transaction fee, a % AND a flat charge. For example 3% + USD 3 --> USD 246.08. This last item you avoid by changing to a bank with no foreign fees.

EXCEPT if you get suckered into the DCC, where the ATM company does the conversion at whatever rate they want.