I have read some comments here that French banks don't charge any fees for using ATM cards in their machines. I just returned from France and have some very off the all fees that my statement attributes to the various French banks I got money from. One is for $40, which seems insane. Does anyone know definitely, for sure without doubt that French banks don't charge fees to use ATMs?
I've never been charged by any bank in Europe for using their ATM; I've always heard fees weren't legal - but I can't say I know that for a fact. Even if there is a law that prohibits fees, laws can change - especially now in Europe with the economic downturn. Considering possible alternatives, could it be card charges for odd purchases? Or could there be fraudulent charges occuring that aren't related to ATM fees?
Are you sure that the institution that charged you the $40 really is a bank?
Things change but in my experience all over Europe for the past ten years, I have never been charged by the ATM owner for using the ATM. It has been a few years since we were in France so my information is dated for France. Have noticed the appearance of private ATMs, especially in G Britain and the US, that are free to charge anything. They probably run through a bank so it may appear as a bank on your statement. I would be tempted to declare the charge as a fraud and let your bank/card issuer investigate since $40 would be an outrageous and unexpected charge.
Any chance you stuck a credit card in thinking it was a debit / atm card? What's the statement say, exactly (if you care to say) ?
I have never been charged a fee by any European bank's ATM. Period.
If French banks were introducing $40 ATM charges, I guarantee this board would be loaded with posts about it. Your situation is unique. There is some other explanation.
Hmm. I think I will dispute and protest the fees. I did go to Rick's alma mater, Evergreen, after all.
In all the years I've gone to France, including a month this spring, I've never had an ATM fee from a French bank (as opposed to my own bank). But I've always made sure to use only true bank ATMs, and not a private non-bank ATM masquerading as a bank ATM.
Robert, could you educate us novices on how to know that you're at a true bank ATM? Are you referring to it's location - - in that it would be on the bank premises like a lobby or just right outside the door?
Diane: Yes, that's right. Also, once you know the names of the banks, you will see their ATM's in locations without a bank branch (they're often outside on the street, built into walls, sometimes around the corner from the branch, sometimes farther away from any branch). The French post office also has legitimate ATM's; in France, the post office has banking services. It's best, whenever possible, to use an ATM right at a bank branch, during business hours. This way, if your card gets eaten by the machine or there is another problem, you can walk right in and try to get it fixed. Ken: I've never had any fees charged by any European banks, which, of course, doesn't prove it can't happen. But I agree that if anyone else were charged $40 to use an ATM, they'd have posted as fast as you did.
My experience with the Santander ATM was that they offered the Dynamic Currency Conversion to dollars but you could indicate "yes" or "no". If you declined, it went through as a Euro transaction as normal. So I would not consider this a "scam" as the user is provided the information and given the choice. The bank is completely transparent with the options. It is not just banks in Spain that do this. I've encountered this in a few other ATMs. I've always been given the choice to accept or decline the conversion. I always decline.
I'm posting this to alert people to a new twist on atm charges. I think I once read that EU regulations preclude banks from charging fees for using their atms (wouldn't swear to this); and, indeed, we've never been so charged. However, in Spain last year, we encountered a bank (think it was Banco Santander) which offered to charge our account in US$. Sensing a scam similar to the "dynamic conversion" offer by hotels, I canceled the transaction and walked a few steps to the bank up the street. Sure enough, their charge in euros worked out to be noticeably less. If I'm remembering correctly that it was Banco Santander, it might be worth pointing out that they are part of the B.of A./Barclay's/BNP/BNL group. No surprise that they are trying out a new way to screw consumers.
Santander is one of the strongest banks in the world and has no need to be affiliated with BoA/BNP/etc. They're not even part of the Global ATM Alliance. I think they did buy Soverign a few years back, but other than that, everthing's in their own name. Regarding the DCC, my wife was in Spain a few months ago and she said she did come across it at a couple of ATMs (she didn't say whose), but it was simply an option which she chose not to exercise. Actually DCC is not a scam since it's totally transparent if you know what it is. It's no worse than travelex, high ftf credit cards, ordering tons of cash before you leave home, and so forth. Some people just can't think of true value in multiple currencies and need to see charges in money with which they're familiar. If they want to fork out the exta five percent (or whatever) because they're too stupid (or too rich) to think, let them have at it.
I agree with Ed. It's not a "scam", and it isn't an attempt to "screw" anybody unless they are uninformed enough to want to do it. You always have the option to say no. People have all kinds of opinions about the "best" way to handle the money issue, and many of those involve accepting a worse rate in the deal. It's up to you to be informed and to consider all the options so you can make the best choice.
DCC isn't transparent unless they tell you the exchange rate you'll get if you choose to be charged in dollars. In my experience, they usually don't. When you accept DCC, you're letting the overseas vendor or bank determine your exchange rate, not your credit card company. That's almost never a good deal for you. Also, DCC is a trap for the unsophisticated traveler, who might naturally assume that it's better to be charged in his home currency. In that respect, it's a scam. Finally, for what it's worth, Amex and Paypal don't allow DCC.
'unless they tell you the exchange rate you'll get' Neither does a standard atm withdrawel.
Ed. I stand by my choice of word, "scam". DCC offers no advantage to the consumer. One gets a poorer exchange rate; and, I've read but cannot confirm from my own experience, the home bank will still levy the usual fees for foreign exchange. The information offered does not include a comparison of the costs for the two methods of charging. That would be full disclosure. My guess is that relatively few American tourists have even heard of DCC, much less understand the issues. Preying on people's naivete is a reprehensible practice which has been developed to an unbelievable level by banks around the world, and you are presenting their rationale. I was simply taking the opportunity to do some consumer education.
Only one vote, but I'm with Rosalyn on this one.
The ATM machines that I have used have always told me either the "guaranteed exchange rate" or the amount in dollars. That is why I considered them to be "transparent". However, I agree that someone who is not particularly savvy with regard to currency exchange might find them confusing. I don't find them confusing. I always decline to have the conversion done. I completely agree that DCC is not an advantage to the consumer.