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BNP Paribas ATM exchange rate markup

This is not a scam alert as much as a warning. We were in Paris and used couple ATM to withdraw money without any issues. However, I used a BNP Paribas ATM in Montmartre area at night to withdraw some money, Since it was a street ATM, I didn’t want to linger too long. I withdrew the euros and then noted that the withdraw slip stated that I had chosen to pay in USD currency conversion done using alternative solutions exchange rate and it was charging a 5.59% markup. In other words, I think that it used dynamic currency exchange to charge me in dollars instead of euros. No where during the ATM process did they ask me if I wanted the exchange to be in dollars or euros. I assume that they used dollars as the default mode so that they could charge me the surcharge. I think that you really had to search for the option to be in euros since it was not obvious to me during the transaction. In neither of the other two banks was this a problem, nor was I charged this markup. I was too late to complain in Paris since we were leaving that next morning. Trying to get any resolution online in US is impossible since there is really no clear option for online complaints, especially if you are not a customer. Finally, the US bank card I used can not do anything since it was not a transaction fee per se. It was a currency markup, which does not qualify.
So, bottom line, be careful when using a BNP Paribas ATM anywhere in Europe. Needless to say, I’ll never use one again, nor will I ever bank with them in the US.

Posted by
7964 posts

I'm not sure this is common to all BNP Paribas banks. I always use one near my hotel in the 7th. I made 4 cash withdrawals from the end of September to the end of October and never had that happen to me. I do have the receipts for those withdrawals (which were actually taken from 2 different accounts). I was charged the rate of around 1.13 to 1.15 depending on the day. My checking and MM accounts were charge the normal 1% fee.

I AM sorry it happened to you!

Posted by
375 posts

I don't mean to doubt your account, but I use BNP Paribas ATMs extensively when in France (because of their alliance with BOA) and from my personal experience, I know that when I have withdrawn money I have seen a screen in which they ask you if you would like to be charged in dollars (and hence a conversion via DCC) or in euros.

In checking my most recent statement which has an ATM withdrawal from a BNP Paribas in Lyon, I was charged $55.43 by the BNP Paribas for a €50 withdrawal, which is a 1.109 exchange rate, very close to mid-market rates at that time. (I was separately charged a $1.66 fee, but that's very clearly the Bank of America-levied 3% exchange fee, which has always been the case).

They have a couple of different models of ATMs, much like in the US where Bank of America has older and newer ATMs that often have slightly different functionalities and welcome screens, so it's possible that on one of their ATM models the prompts are not clear. I can only speak from my personal experience and say that I have never had this issue.

Posted by
896 posts

I believe there is a requirement that you must be asked to okay DCC, but I've seen screens that are confusing and seem to imply that saying no means your transaction will be cancelled. I also remember one that didn't mention DCC until the very last screen and I almost missed it.

Posted by
20902 posts

I think you were advised but just missed it. We are just back from a run through northern Europe and it was pretty standard to see a message that something along the line of ---- This was after entering the amount to be withdrawn.

1. Withdraw 200 Euro and charged in dollars (sometimes the dollar amount was shown)
2. Withdraw 200 Euro. (may have also said -- Continue to withdraw 200 Euro)


The first time I saw this I hesitated and was a little unsure how to proceed. I finally chose "2" on the keypad and it promptly went to processing transaction and the money kicked our in a couple of seconds. I am sure that if I had chosen "Continue" it would have default to "1".

This was the first trip that I have routinely encountered this question. Also showed up when using the credit card. I think this is becoming standard practice. Once I got use to seeing that question it was easy to hit 2 and keep moving.

Posted by
4739 posts

Note that BOA usually charges 3% today for depositor withdrawals in Euros. This statement is not about DCC.

Posted by
7192 posts

Thanks for the warning David, and Frank, thanks for the clarification. So you saw it several times, too, meaning it will spread.

I’ll be watching for that screen and the number 2 choice. What will be thought up next to move the cash from my pocket to theirs. Geesh.

Posted by
5498 posts

We saw that on purchases and ATM's in Switzerland several years ago -- the machine reading your card says you will be charged in (your currency) unless you indicate otherwise by selecting the alternative -- counting on people just punching "continue" to get their money.

Posted by
208 posts

I agree that there may have been something in the transaction to use dollars as the default and you had to hit another choice to have the rate in euros and not convert. When I did the withdraw, it was at night, using an ATM out in the open sidewalk, and I was alone. So, I did not spend a great deal of time scrutinizing all the fine print and options. So lesson learned is do your withdraws during the daytime, preferably with someone there and with an ATM in the branch bank itself. That way, you have time to read the fine print and options.

Posted by
3607 posts

Yes, sometimes the wording for the DCC on the ATM screens sounds like it should be an automatic “yes” when the best option is to select “no”. On the positive side, the ATM gave you money when you were out at night and needed some.

Posted by
44 posts

On two trips to France in the last year or so, I have used BNP Paribas ATMs many times in several cities, including at several locations in Paris. In each case, after I entered the number of Euros I wished to withdraw, the next screen presented me with the amount in dollars and asked if I wanted to accept that conversion. I always chose to decline the conversion and the ATM then offered me a choice of the mix of Euro denominations and then dispensed the Euros and gave me a receipt. The process was simple, but I can understand that it could look like a person was declining the entire transaction, rather than just the conversion that the ATM presents. I later checked the transaction records with my bank and found that I had successfully avoided being charged a DCC. My rule of thumb: If I am presented a figure in dollars, I decline it, and the transaction goes ahead with no dynamic conversion.

By the way, I like to use the BNP Paribas ATMs because they give one the choice to choose smaller denomination bills, if you wish.

Posted by
16809 posts

In Italy, BNL is related to Spain's BNP. The wording I saw on their screens this fall was likely to confuse a lot of travelers. They did default to showing how much you were withdrawing in euros along with how much you would be charged in dollars, which normally should not be displayed. The option to choose, in smaller print at the bottom, said "Continue without conversion."