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ATM Machines and Money

I have never travelled without travellers cheques but I realize that today a bank card at ATM machines is the best way to go. I have a few questions about their use. I will be travelling in Vienna, Czech Republic, Krakow, Budapest, and Romania (Sighisoara, Brasov and Bucharest). 1. Do ATMs in all the above places accept bank cards with chips? Or should I obtain a card without a chip? 2. Should I use a 4 digit pin number? 3. Is it wise to take two bank cards incase one stops working? Thank you

Posted by
8890 posts

BUT be sure to tell your bank you are going to use your cards on a trip or you may find yourself stranded when they deny the payment. And I have been everyplace you list with the exception of Krakow and have used my cards with success. The closest I ever had to a problem was with a credit card in Brazov where there machine demanded a PIN for a credit card. We even worked that out. If ever asked if you want to make the payment in the local currency or do you want to make the payment in Dollars I think you will find it better to make the transaction in the local currency and let your company make the conversion. You might want to check if your card company is going to charge you conversion fees. I get pretty good exchange rates on my card and pay no fees with my BOA cards. Happy Trails

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks everyone. You have all provided good advice.

Posted by
8721 posts

1. ATMs in Europe will accept both magnetic strip and chip&pin cards. 2. 4 digit pins will make your life much easier:) 3. Two cards plus about $200 in cash in case of emergency is very sensible.

Posted by
1366 posts

Last summer, we were in Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Zagreb, Split, Ljubljana, and Salzburg area. We had no problem using ATM cards. The only issue was the daily max of about $400, since we had 5 adults. The ATMs are all over. We did talk to the bank, and inform them of our itinerary, so that we never had a card cancelled. We carried no TC, used the credit card itself very infrequently (only in official areas for transit passes, etc, and not in restaurants due to my wife's paranoia about stolen #s). We did get a new card for the trip, and cancelled it after we returned.

Posted by
10520 posts

I agree with the other posters so far. You do want to carry two cards, just in case. Also, the point about limits is important. There are two limits: how much your bank will allow per day (and remember, their day is counted on Newfoundland time, not local European time), and how much the local ATM will allow. If the local ATM has a low limit, you can do a second withdrawal, but if you are paying a fee per withdrawal, this will incur a second fee. I pay my hotels in cash, so I plan before checkout to have withdrawn enough money; this sometimes requires going to the ATM a few days in a row, and storing it in my moneybelt. Be sure to notify all your banks and credit cards about your travel. This just helped me, but not in the way I expected. I had told my credit card company when I'd be in Holland; I never used it there, but they were able to determine that the "use" of it in Virginia during my dates away must have been fraudulent, and (correctly) blocked the charge! When leaving a country, change all your remaining money into the next country's currency. Since no two of your countries use the same money, don't hold onto it (except for the euros from Vienna, which of course can be used for a future trip to lots of places). The reason to change before you leave: you can then get rid of coins as well as bills. If you forget, you can always change bills anywhere, but most will not take foreign coins (sometimes there are exceptions for neighboring countries). It sounds like you know this, but for lurkers reading this (I see this question come up a lot on cruise forums): no, you can't use the currency of one country in another. Sure, some places will accept it, but always at a poor rate. And many places will not accept it at all. Get and use local currency upon arrival at each country.

Posted by
8890 posts

The apartment business is pretty much a Euro only business. That maybe because a lot of the mortgages are Euro based or the owners are in Euro countries or because ...... well the Euro is more stable and the management companies can charge that way. The company that represents my apartment charges in Euro. You can use Euro and US Dollars in a lot of places but the exchange is generally rough and not so great. I prefer to draw out what I need when I need it from ATM machines or use a credit card. But it's all a matter of preference. For an American traveling to Europe 4% in the exchange rate isn't 1% of the total cost of the trip. Still I like to deal in the local language and local money as much as feasible. I feel more comfortable and feel more accommodating to those of whom I am a guest.

Posted by
127 posts

One observation from my experience in Budapest in September, 2010You may encounter an ATM screen whose language is local...with no option to choose another language. In Budapest the screen changed as soon as I ed my ATM card to the familiar which gives language options, such as the Union Jack flag for English.

Posted by
11277 posts

Kathy, My comments refer to Budapest. Those establishments with "welcome" signs in German and English (you'll see them in restaurants, etc) will most likely take the Euro. If you want to pay in Euro, they will accept them. They know that German and anglophone tourists are not all going to be carrying florints, ie., the restaurants that offer separate German and English menus in the tourist frequented areas especially. On Vienna: Your US credit card will have no problems in Vienna. I've used it there, never a problem. The Amer. Ex. office is still on Kärntnerstraße in Vienna where it has always been located for cashing your travelers checks.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks everyone. So there is an American Express office in Vienna - good to know. Is there an American Express office in Prague, Krakow, Budapest and/or Paris?

Posted by
11277 posts

Hi, I don't know about Amer Ex Travel Offices in Prague, Budapest, and Krakow but Thomas Cook is where you can obtain and cash the travelers checks.

Posted by
8890 posts

The AMEX office in Budapest closed its doors several years ago. You might consider forgoing the Travelers Checks and getting a couple of ATM Cards.

Posted by
9 posts

I went to the bank today. They have informed me that I cannot get a second bank card. In order to get a second visa card I need to obtain a new visa account (which I did do). The bank also stated that they would not replace a bank card while I was in Europe. So, I think I will take my bank card, two credit cards and travellers cheques in case of an emergency.

Posted by
8890 posts

I said that with out a lot of thought. Sorry. I have accounts in three banks, hence a multiple cards. Then my wife has a card for two of those accounts, so a total of up to 5 cards. With internet connection i can move money between the three banks. All too complicated is modern life.

Posted by
11277 posts

Hi, This may be indicative of CZ, Budapest, and Krakow. In 2009 at a restaurant in what used to be Küstrin an der Oder but now Poland, I was told by the Polish waiter (in Ger) that he would accept zlotys (of course) and also Euro but not a US credit card. I had really wanted to pay with the credit card but paid with a zloty bill instead. Since this was just across the bridge from Küstrin-Kietz on the eastern side of the Oder, a border area, it's not too surprising that Euro are accepted. I am sure you'll find the same acceptance in CZ and maybe Krakow too, aside from Budapest.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I have decided to take my one bank card, 2 visa cards and some travellers cheques just in case. I don't have to pay to get the travellers cheques and if I don't use them, I don't have to pay to cash them at my bank.