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Spanish Bank ATM Charges

I am considering using my overseas ATM card to withdraw money from ATM machine in small amounts as I go. This way I don't have to carry as much cash.

From what I read on various blogs and forums, there seems to be a mix of information about whether Spanish banks charge a fee for using an overseas ATM card or not.

So my question is, if I stick to using just ATM machines of big banks, should I expect a charge when using my overseas ATM card to withdraw money?

Thanks.

Posted by
283 posts

Some US bank cards do not have fees or are affiliated with European banks and so have no or minimal charges. As I recall from my trip last October, I paid the highest fees at Caixa Bank ATMs. I think Deutsche Bank ATMs had the lowest fees. I didn't use the Santander ATMs because I have a personal grudge against Santander and refuse to give them any business.

Posted by
14509 posts

Marc, the reason you've seen inconsistent information is that the policies of the Spanish banks are themselves inconsistent. That is, some have programmed their ATMs to charge no fees, but other banks do charge fees. Those fees may be in the form of a flat charge (5 euros in my experience) or in the form of (apparently, though not stated) a percentage of the amount being withdrawn. The percentages may have varied, but I think I decided that one was an odd amount between 4% and 5%. Of course, that fee might have been a combination of a flat charge and a percentage.

Just walking down Las Ramblas I hit at least two ATMs that were going to charge me a fee. I kept right on walking and eventually found others that were OK. (This was last August; things may have changed.) Santander and BBVA weren't charging fees when I was in Barcelona. One of the fee-charging ATMs had "Caixa" in its name. A "Burgos" ATM tried to charge me a fee in another city.

If the ATM is going to charge you a fee, it will be disclosed early in the transaction. Just be sure you select "English" as the language to be used so that you will know what is going on. It's easy enough to cancel the transaction if a fee notification appears. (Don't forget to retrieve your ATM card!)

None of this has anything to do with the extra charges (via fees or non-optimum exchange rates) that your own bank may assess when you use a foreign ATM.

Edited to add: Do not under any circumstances allow the ATM to record your transaction in dollars rather than euros (a process called "dynamic currency conversion"). That just gives the Spanish bank the right to pick your pocket by using a poor exchange rate. And if your own bank is one that charges a fee for using a foreign ATM, having the transaction recorded in dollars will not avoid that fee.

Posted by
65 posts

Thank you both. I would be using a US based ATM/debit card. Some of the online stock brokerage sites in the US provide debit cards (Ameritrade, E*Trade, Fidelity, Charles Schawb). And you need not trade stocks with these brokers. You could just put money into an account with them like a bank and get the benefit of their versatile debit cards. All these brokers also have no minimum balances. So you could keep a $0 balance and just put money in when you want to travel with an ATM/debit card.

All 4 of those, for the exception of ETrade, don't add any charges on overseas ATM withdrawals, which is great (ETrade adds 1%) and even Fidelity and Schwab will refund your ATM withdrawal fees if there are any from overseas banks.

Unfortunately I don't have either of those, but Schwab is the absolute best because no fees at all on anything and they refund any overseas ATM charges as I said. Fidelity though would charge 1% if you used their debit card to make a debit purchase, whereas Schwab doesn't have any fees on debit purchases either.

Ranking them in terms of charges, Schwab #1, Ameritrade #2 (has no charges at all on ATM or debit card purchases but doesn't refund any overseas ATM fees), Fidelity #3 (charges 1% on debit purchases, but will refund ATM carges charged by an overseas bank) and ETrade #4 because they add 1% to everything and no refund on ATM charges either.

They are still better than a US bank like Chase for example, which told me they will add 1% to the ATM withdrawal amount, plus add another $5 charge and they wont refund the overseas ATM fee charges either. You can't get worse than that!

Anyway, very sorry, I went off on a bit of a tangent there.

I was thinking about using one of the 4 big banks like Bankia, BBVA, Caixabank, or Santander for ATM withdrawals, which I assume I can find in all cities I will be visiting like Valencia, Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla, and of course Barcelona.

It sounds like I should avoid Ciaxa though it sounds like. But if I am charged a 4-5 Euro withdrawal fee, which my bank wont reimburse, but wont charge me anything on top of either, then it is fine. I may make only 5 withdrawals while I am there. So I think I can live with those kind of charges for those few withdrawals I will be making, as long as the fee isn't a percentage.

Well, it sounds like the thing to do is stick your card in a few different major bank ATM machines and see which one will charge the least or nothing at all perhaps. Sounds like even the banks themselves change their fees depending on location and I guess that is why I got conflicting reports from other sources.

Posted by
14509 posts

It is possible that fees vary by location, but all I noticed in Barcelona was that some particular flavors of ATM charged fees and others didn't. I had to work a bit harder to find no-fee ATMs in Barcelona, though I don't know whether that was just my bad luck or more of the local banks there are charging fees. I definitely did encounter fee-charging ATMs in other cities as well.

Barcelona has some highly professional pickpockets (and rather crowded streets in some places), so it didn't seem like a good place to withdraw large sums of cash at a time.

Posted by
65 posts

Thanks, yes, apparently the pick pockets are in all cities as well, even as far as Sevilla.

Of the ones that didn't charge you fees, did you happen to remember which brands/banks those might have been? Would just be good to make a mental note of. As I said, I can live with a 5 Euro charge for the convenience.

I would probably try 3 machines in an area at most and if I can't find one that is free, and need cash, then I would just take one of the ones that charges a small fee and give up walking around trying all different machines.

Posted by
2414 posts

Guys...it's called "market economy", not inconsistency :)) Spain had (and still has despite the cut-backs and mergers) one of the largest and most sophisticated bank networks in Europe. There are more branches and ATMs per inhabitant than anywhere else, around 70000 in the whole of Spain. Long (very long and complex) story short, since 2008 there have been an exaggerated number of mergers and acquisitions and the bank scene these days is dominated by a few huge banks -much like everywhere else I guess.

In Spain, ATMs belong to basically three networks: Servired, 4B and Euro6000 which they're probably going to merge in 2017 into one single network. The new government regulations have turned upside down the way we used to withdraw money from the ATMs and now it's up to the individual banks whether they charge or not a commission for withdrawing money. In the past, you could withdraw money for free in any ATM belonging to the same network your bank operated with, regardless whether the ATM was physically located in a branch of your bank or not. These days no more. Now you're only exempt if you withdraw money in an ATM located in a branch of your bank -and a few other exceptions in certain banks (https://www.ocu.org/dinero/cuenta-bancaria/noticias/redes-cajeros)- otherwise you're charged a commission which varies depending on which bank you're using.

So it does apply to you too. After all, using a card from a foreign bank amounts to the same than using a card from a "different" Spanish bank, irrespectively of which bank. The amount will depend on the agreements your bank has with the Spanish bank in which you're withdrawing the money from ---ATMs tend to physically be in bank branches. With such an extensive network in Spain, I normally can use my own bank's ATMs regardless where I am, so I never pay, but I believe (but not 100% sure!) that otherwise there's a message on the screen when you're trying to withdraw indicating that the transaction has a commission and the amount they'll charge you for that -which, as I said, will vary depending on your particular circumstances (which bank, etc). In any case, commissions are "similar" (hence what I said earlier: competence!) and they're -I seem to remember!- under 5€.

Ah yes, note that your bank might charge (or not!) as well the currency conversion cost... as I assume your account is not denominated in Euros, right?

PS: I would imagine everybody knows that when interacting with an ATM in Spain you can choose from different languages, including French, German.... and also English! Just sayin'... in case anyone didn't know.

Posted by
334 posts

Fidelity #3 (charges 1% on debit purchases, but will refund ATM carges charged by an overseas bank)

For purchases, a credit card with rewards, and no foreign transaction fees is the way to go. "What's in your wallet?"

Posted by
14509 posts

Enric, I definitely had Spanish ATMs warn me (right before I canceled the transaction) of an impending 5-euro fee. But sometimes the disclosed fee was lower on my (typically-small) withdrawals. There were odd amounts that seemed to be percentage-based, and odd percentages at that--not 3%, 5%, etc. The ATMs could, however, have been set up to charge something like 1 euro plus 3%. [Paragraph edited for clarity.]

OK, I've pulled out my credit-union statements (on which I had noted some of the bank names from my ATM receipts). I visited many cities and towns but did not go to Andalucía or Valencia on last year's trip. Note that if I were not a "priority customer" of my credit union, the credit union itself would have charged me a $2 fee per ATM visit.

No ATM fees charged summer 2016 (first three were used in Barcelona):
Banco Santander
BBVA
Banco Popular
Novobanco
Abanca
Caixa Geral
Sabadell
Kutxabank
Banco Ceiss
Bankinter

Some of my receipts said "Ibercaja", "Telebanco", "Caja Rural" or "Bankia", which may be networks rather than banks; I'm not sure.

Posted by
2414 posts

No, they're banks... Bankia, for example, is the fourth biggest in Spain. Some though is curious that you even stumbled upon, tiny ones like Ceiss or Telebanco :))

Posted by
14509 posts

I have "Telebanco" written beside a lot of the withdrawals on my credit-union statement, including some from Banco Popular and Banco Santander. Too bad I've tossed the receipts themselves and can't take another look at them.

What can I say? It was a very long trip. I stayed in 25 or so different cities/towns and made side-trips to at least that many more. Lots of opportunities to find obscure ATMs.

Posted by
65 posts

Thanks Enric. The commission you mention is a flat fee of something up to 5 euros or a percentage of the withdrawal normally?

Posted by
2414 posts

I believe is a fixed amount... but, as I said, I never pay them so I cannot confirm 100%. Also, I imagine you are aware that, as it happens elsewhere, there's a maximum amount you can withdraw per day -which is defined by "your" bank.

Posted by
12 posts

Try USAA atm cards if you are eligible for an account. They used to reimburse the ATM fee that other banks charged, not the currency conversion fees however.

Posted by
1892 posts

Used Deutsche Bank at Plaza de Catalunya yesterday, no attempt at charging a fee. Can't recall if it offered DCC, if it did it was easy to refuse (so easy, I can't remember)

Posted by
65 posts

Thanks Larry. Good to know about the Deutsche Bank option. How common do you think their branch ATM machines are in most smaller Spanish cities like Valencia, Cordoba, Seville, Granada, etc?

I assume in Barcelona and Madrid they are pretty easy to find though?

Posted by
1892 posts

I believe my method to find this bank was after hearing about it above I searched Deutsche Bank for branches/Atms in Barcelona before we left town. You can do the same for other cities. And then find them on Google maps. This branch is directly from the airport bus stop to our location at Hotel Continental around the corner (love the pink, this place may beold but it is charming with a killer location -head of Ramblas)

Posted by
2414 posts

For info:
Deutsche Bank is likely to be pulling out of most of Spain quite soon: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-deutsche-bank-retail-banking-idUSKBN16G246 Foreign banks have always had a very difficult time to land in Spain because the banking system here is very developed and local banks (LaCaixa, BBVA, Santander...) are very strong. Barclays, Citibank... many tried without much success. For decades, the branch network of local banks in Spain had been one of the largest in Europe, and that had been a true handicap for those foreign banks. While networks these days have been drastically reduced after the financial crisis and the wave of mergers, it stills is one of the largest.

Posted by
65 posts

I'm in Valencia and just used a Deutsche Bank ATM to withdraw some cash from a US Visa debit card. The ATM didn't say that any ATM charges would be withdrawn from my account so I don't think there will be any.

Unfortunately my bank doesn't update account withdrawals online until the next day so I won't be able to actually check what exchange rate I was given and if there were any charges for another 12-18 hours. But I will post again when I have more info what was taken out of my account.

The ATM was the Deutsche Bank located along Gran Via Marques del Turia.

Posted by
65 posts

I can confirm that the Deutsche Bank ATM did not withdraw any charges for the ATM withdrawal I made from my account.

Posted by
3261 posts

A Caixa branch in Barcelona charged me its own fee in September 2016. Others did not. Of course my own bank (Canadian) charged me a foreign transaction fee as well, like it always does. As others have indicated, the fees are usually charged by your home bank, in Spain and most everywhere else I have travelled. (None of this applies to private ATMs at the back of the tavern.)

Posted by
65 posts

I made another withdrawal at the Deutsche Bank ATM in Valencia over the weekend. No charges whatsoever added by Deutsche Bank and I'm using a Visa debit card from a US based brokerage account which doesn't add any charges from their end either.

I will probably need more cash when I reach Barcelona in about a week. I'll look for a Deutsche Bank ATM when I'm there too. I'm assuming there are a few around.

I won't try using any of the Spanish bank ATM if I don't have to knowing that Deutsche doesn't charge anything.

Posted by
65 posts

A quick search in Google for Deutsche Bank branches in Barcelona returned over 25 branch locations. Sounds like no problem there to use Deutsche Bank and avoid any charges from the ATM.

Posted by
1 posts

Did notice some diffierences in currency exchange rates when using different bank cards/ credit cards
best exchange capital one360
capital venture card
paid by paypal using venture card and found they actually have lower exchange rate then venture ie same transaction with venture card without paypal had exchange rate that was almost 10% better! (venture initially blocked the charge)
my local credit union debit card does refund atm surcharges but has lower exchange rate plus never sure how they deal with receipts in spanish!
bottom line I am looking for atms with no service charges and using credit/debit cards from capital one
capital one also shoots email with transction info immediately - spotted a fraud charge $100 from pizza place in barcelona minutes after the venture charge and was able to get issue resolved immediately at the rip off place after screaming a bit!

Posted by
26 posts

I did a fair bit of research on this before our trip to Greece last summer. I opened a Capital One 360 Checking Account and they charge no foreign transaction fee and no ATM fees. Note this is only for their 360 Checking account and not regular checking account.

I am going to Spain later in August and will be this debit card. It is on the MasterCard network.

Posted by
3 posts

I gave great up-to-date info on this topic. Why was it deleted?

Posted by
3 posts

Fees as of July 2017:

Deutsche Bank- no fee
Bankia- no fee
Popular- 1.50 euro fee
Caixabank- 3.00 euro fee
Santander- 5.00 euro fee

All atms give option to bill you in USD at a disclosed markup which is going to cost you. Select Euro.

Big banks that I didn't check are BBVA and Barclays.

Posted by
1 posts

Hello,

I am in Barcelona today, September, 24, 2017 and have used my ATM card from the US in Santander and was not charged a fee. I tried BBVA earlier today and was asked for a €3.00 fee. When I arrived I used Bankia and was charged a 2.85% fee.

Thanx to all of you for help with this important issue.

Posted by
1 posts

Hello Everyone,

Guys, Rick, I wanted to ask if you were able to withdraw US dollars using ATM's in Spain. I see that there are some ATM's which don't charge any fees but can I get USD out of them?

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
14509 posts

I would be shocked if you could get US dollars out of any ATM in Europe. Why would you want to?

Posted by
73 posts

Our checking account is with a brokerage. All ATM fees around the world are refunded to our account.