Using my ATM card seems to be the cheapest way to change money in other countries. My bank charges a fee per ATM transaction, so the least expensive method is to make large withdrawals. In Portugal two years ago, the machines allowed a maximum withdrawal of €200. Will I have better luck in France next month? Or can you recommend an economical alternative?
In my experience, French ATM withdrawal limits seem to be dictated by my own bank, not the ATM machine itself. Within a given 24-hour period, my bank allows me to withdraw a certain amount of cash (be sure to convert the dollar limit into Euros).
There are a couple of factors. First, call your bank to tell them when you'll be in France and ask them to raise your daily withdrawal limit. If you've been with a bank for awhile, it shouldn't be a problem. And the bank needs to know it's you making those sudden large withdrawals in another part of the world.
Second, withdrawal limits at ATMs can be a matter of the bank's policy and where the machines are located. You're likely to be able to withdraw more from an ATM attached to a bank branch.
Thanks for your answers, but my experience has been that the limitation was on the ATM machine itself. I arranged with my bank to raise the withdrawal limit on my account before my trip to Portugal two years ago, and I still was able to get only €200 at a time. It's not a big deal, but I like to avoid those fees as much as possible.
I always notify my bank/credit card company of my travel itinerary so a "fraud alert" freeze on my account is avoided (you only have to have that special treat happen to you once). I actually go into a bank to withdraw 500 euros at a time and have never had to do more than show my passport to the teller. Everybody wins and avoids some scam.
I have two different accounts.Both raise my limit to 900dollars.I have found the only time I cant get the 900.00 is in small town ATMs especially later in a weekend.
An economic alternative is to open an account with a bank that does not charge per-transaction fees and use it for your trip.
This strategy has the added benefit of making your regular bank account an emergency backup account.
Thanks, Adam. Can you recommend such a bank, maybe online? I live in the boonies and don't have a large selection on the bricks-and-mortar side.
Edge, people's needs and considerations for bank accounts vary, and bank offers change. I suggest going to Bankrate.com to pick an internet bank.
You probably want a checking account and to avoid fees may have to settle for one with no interest. That is a good deal in return for no fees, as long as you do not leave a lot of money parked there for a long time.
In addition to bankrate.com, I know that some discount brokerages such as etrade offer bank accounts with no-fee ATM cards attached to them.
Edge, there is probably no need to open an account with a new bank. What no other poster here has mentioned is that many US banks have partner banks in European countries. It is not simply a matter of increasing your withdrawal limit with your OWN bank to enable greater cash withdrawals. You also need to make your withdrawals at one of the partner banks in order to effectively withdraw more cash per ATM transaction. A list of partner banks in France may not be listed on your bank's website, I would suggest you ask your bank directly for this information.