Germany - ATMs and currency exchange
I'll be traveling from the USA to Germany soon. Today the official exchange rate was 1 EUR = 1.42 or 1.43 USD. If I use my ATM card to get euros, how close to the official exchange rate can I expect, excluding fees for using the ATM? Does the exchange rate that I get depend on my bank in the USA? Or does it depend on the German bank whose ATM I'm using? Do German banks charge a fee for using a USA-issued ATM card in their ATMs?
Would I get a better exchange rate and/or lower fees if I walked into a German bank and bought euros?
Aug 1, 11, 10:32 pm
There are always two different rates for buy and sell, so I don't know which one you are quoting. As a rule of thumb, you get the better of the two when buying the currency in the country, and the lower one when you sell the home currency. In other words, buy Euros in Euro zone, not in the US.
Aug 2, 11, 3:03 am
I've used my Chase checking debit card at German ATMs and was charged the current interbank rate for that day plus 7-10$ fees (total from both). The current and historic rates can be found here: http://www.oanda.com/lang/de/currency/converter/
Bank of America and Deutsche Bank have a neat mutual agreement not to charge any fees if you use their ATMs @:-)
Cash conversion in banks/counters is pure madness and always a loss for the customer.
I don't know, it is better that you conform from issuing authority.
The conversion rate of 1 EUR = $1.42 or $1.43 USD that I mentioned yesterday was from www.cnn.com - I'm not sure if that's supposed to be the average of the buy and sell rates.
oliver2002 mentioned the agreement between Bank of America and Deutsche Bank about not charging fees for using their ATMs - does anyone know whether Wachovia/Wells Fargo has an agreement with any German banks?
Has anyone bought euros from an ATM machine recently, and what kind of rate did you get?
Aug 2, 11, 1:46 pm
As a Bank of America customer, I always try and make withdrawals at Deutsche Bank ATMs while in Germany and I usually hit the one at FRA airport when I arrive. The rate is usually the day rate for the day of the actual transaction. I would suggest you contact your bank and inquire about agreements they may have with German banks to avoid the service fees which can be high. If your bank doesn't have an agreement with a German bank, it still might be cheaper to pay the ATM fees vs. the fees that some institutions charge to exchange money (especially the ones at the airport). If you plan on spending money in Germany and paying with your credit card, it might also be a good idea to find out which (if any) of your credit cards don't charge a foreign transaction fee. Viel Spaß in Deutschland!
Based on dozens of experiences in the last several years, including 4 trips to Germany this year already, an ATM card is the best way to go.
Aug 2, 11, 8:52 pm
Don't concern yourself too much with the rate (especially with as much as everything has been fluctuating lately.) You will get the best rate at the ATM (even with fees included.) That said get larger amounts and not 20 Euros at a time.
Wells Fargo does not have any agreements with any German bank (as far as I know and I am a WF customer and frequently travel to Germany.) They do have a $5 fee for ATM withdrawals made outside the US but I do not believe they have any additional fees on the ATM transaction.
Aug 2, 11, 9:50 pm
The answer is.....it depends on your individual bank's policy and they are supposed to let you know just what their policy is. The two major shared teller networks are cirrus and plus. They are owned and controlled by mc and visa respectively. MC and visa charge a 1% fee above the interbank rate for transactions at one of their machines. Now the fun begins. ATM's operated by cirrus or plus are not supposed to add their fees to transactions with atm or debit cards issued outside the country. Thus, for example, an atm operated by a British bank is not allowed to charge a fee to an atm card or debit card issued by a US bank. Thus unlike in the USA where almost every bank now charges you for having the audacity to use one of their atm machines if the card being used is from another bank (this is usually a flat fee not a % fee), the bank owning the ATM does not charge a fee. A privately owned machine may charge a fee. (Some of the US banks as part of their deal rebate these fees at US ATM's; I don't know if they do if you use a foreign ATM in a foreign land that is not owned by a bank)...but your bank is free to charge you whatever it wants. Of course, the rate should be $0.00 since you are accessing your money but I've never met a banker unwilling to charge you a fee whenever possible. Bank of America, for example, charges such a fee. However, Bank of America has a list of banks in each country where they waive that fee ex. the bank we're talking about in Germany. The banks are also free to pass along the mcd/visa 1% currency charge, eat it, or enhance it by as much a an additional 2% making it 3% matching what they charge on credit cards. It's strictly on a bank by bank basis and they are supposed to disclose all such fees.
I have a fidelity brokerage account and had mu choice between a visa debit card or an Amex credit card...I chose the visa card. They eat the surcharge referred to above when accessing my money at a US ATM, they charge no additional ATM fee to me when using an ATM outside the USA but pass along the 1% visa fee above interbank rate for foreign currency exchange. Just ask your bank for its individual policy on this.
Aug 3, 11, 7:28 am
ATM's operated by cirrus or plus are not supposed to add their fees to transactions with atm or debit cards issued outside the country. Thus, for example, an atm operated by a British bank is not allowed to charge a fee to an atm card or debit card issued by a US bank.
German ATMs are required by law to show you what they will bill you before the cash is dispensed. You have to approve the charge or can abort if it seems to high. So you will definitely know what charge you can expect, ie X € plus the 5$ Wells Fargo charges you for using the card outside the US. For me it was X€ + 7.50$ Chase takes. The currency rate was surprisingly fair, probably at the Interbank+1% mentioned above.
Germany is very cash oriented, so keeping 50-100€ with you as a tourist should make life easier. Credit cards are seldom accepted at restaurants, shops etc.
Aug 3, 11, 7:47 am
here's a schedule of what US banks charge for foreign ATM transaction fees
http://www.flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php/Credit/Debit/ATM_Cards_and_Foreign_Exchange#Schedule_of_foreign _transaction_fees_by_bank_for_debit_and_credit_car ds
German ATMs are required by law to show you what they will bill you before the cash is dispensed. You have to approve the charge or can abort if it seems to high. (...)
This does not apply to foreign cards.
I withdraw cash using non-german Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards from german ATMs on a regular basis .
The fee depends solely on the issuer, and is never displayed before or during the transaction. The fees displayed on the ATM are valid only for german cards.