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Using ATM or bank to exchange $?

Using ATM or bank to exchange $?

Old Apr 25, 17, 6:13 am
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Using ATM or bank to exchange $?

If I'm reading this correctly, Chase, PNC (and many other banks) charge $5 + 3% if you use an ATM in another country plus whatever fee that ATM charges. Do you guys typically take cash and exchange in person at a local bank, exchange at your bank before going or simply use the ATM in that country?

The last time we were in Europe, we ended up using the ATM @ 4 - 5 times, but tried to pay for most items with a CC that didn't charge fees. We've got 2 more trips booked for this year and are trying to determine which route is best. One is all-inclusive in the Caribbean, so we'll likely need less money on hand. The other trip is in Eastern Europe and longer, so we will likely need more money as some locations cannot accept CC's.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 6:47 am
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Originally Posted by flwrlover1 View Post
Do you guys typically take cash and exchange in person at a local bank, exchange at your bank before going or simply use the ATM in that country?
Generally the fee is already included in the exchange rate. The bank will offer an exchange rate that factors in a margin for them.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 6:59 am
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I have a Capital One checking account with a mastercard debit card. No foreign transaction fee on any transaction ATM or otherwise (I think they reimburse a few ATM fees per month though I've never been charged one and the offer is probably expired) and the rates are pretty close to market rates and published daily mastercard rates (usually within a penny).

I've been living abroad for a bit but still have income from the US and ATM withdrawals on the CapOne debit card is pretty much the cheapest way for me to transfer money regularly.

Edit: but to answer the question, ATM withdrawals on a fee-free debit card is usually the cheapest method to get cash abroad. Just make sure the ATM doesn't have an exorbitant charge and you don't ask the ATM's bank to do the conversion for you.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 8:57 am
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Cash

If my math is correct i come out ahead buying usd in my home country (.ph) then doing forex with money changers in the country i am visiting.


atm fees and forex fees on atms add up and since i rarely spend more than 1000 usd in cash on most trips i just bring it with me.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 8:57 am
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OK, just to clarify, from what everyone is saying, using the ATM appears to be the best method? Specifically, we have PNC for checking and for whatever reason they didn't reimburse the $5 fees and I believe we were charged a service fee + a bit on the other bank's side. I suppose PNC likely only reimburses domestically.

I know we aren't talking about a huge amount of money here. It's just that we're starting to travel internationally more often, so it will eventually begin to add up.

Editing: I just saw the post above this one mentioning cash. LOL, this is why I'm confused! Maybe I just need to switch bank accounts to one that is more travel friendly. I guess I should also check to see if CSR does fee free cash withdrawals since they are fee free for credit transactions.

Last edited by TravelingNomads; Apr 25, 17 at 9:07 am
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Old Apr 25, 17, 9:05 am
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Originally Posted by flwrlover1 View Post
OK, just to clarify, from what everyone is saying, using the ATM appears to be the best method?
Yes. Make sure you have the right account/card - CapitalOne and Charles Schwab are two most popular ones.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 9:22 am
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Charles Schwab is great and has never failed me for ATM withdrawals. No minimum deposit or account balances (I only keep travel funds in there). You can use it at any ATM that is connected to the Visa network. FX rates are live and are typically even better than some of my other Visa CC (CSR) and they have always been good at reimbursing the fees including some fees that aren't directly "ATM terminal fees" like the scam fee the Thai banks charge on foreign cards.

Also useful for me in the US in the rare instances I need cash since I bank with Chase but live in a state with no Chase banks so I can withdraw fee free from US ATMs (including gas stations).

The lack of fees also makes it really convenient to minimize FX withdrawals. I only withdraw what I need immediately (usually start with the equivalent of $50-100 USD depending on length of stay and whether cabs take CC without hassle) and then take out a little more at a time as needed instead of having to make a big $500 withdrawal to minimize fees and then be stuck with extra cash to hold for a future trip or change back at a poor rate.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 10:08 am
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If you're planning to travel internationally regularly, you should think about opening an account that doesn't charge you a foreign exchange fee and reimburses/doesn't charge atm fees. There's a couple national banks and several local/regional credit unions. You never know they might even have an opening bonus.

There was a longer discussion here: Debit cards without forex fee and other-bank ATM fees?

The google doc link in the wiki might be out of date, but you can either google or call the banks/credit unions to find out if the fees are still the same.

I have Schwab Bank, which I only use for foreign travel ATM purposes and it's been great so far (been to UK, Paris, Dublin, Hong Kong & Australia) for my foreign travels.

Another possibility is to ask your friends/co-workers if they might have some foreign money left over from their trip and exchange $ for it at the current rate. Of course that only works if they travel a lot and are willing to part with the foreign money. Some people keep them as souvenirs.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 10:31 am
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I would open up either a Fidelity or Schwab checking account. Both offer free checking accounts that reimburses you for ATM fees both domestically and internationally. I have one just specifically for when I go abroad so I'll have access to cash if necessary.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 12:55 pm
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Really depends on where you're going. In SEA countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore for eg. changing money at a licensed Forex Money Changer (usually in big malls) is extremely easy and offers way better rates compared to the banks.

Locals in those countries usually change money prior to going overseas and would never think of using the ATM unless it was an emergency.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 1:47 pm
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Originally Posted by miuk View Post
Really depends on where you're going. In SEA countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore for eg. changing money at a licensed Forex Money Changer (usually in big malls) is extremely easy and offers way better rates compared to the banks.

Locals in those countries usually change money prior to going overseas and would never think of using the ATM unless it was an emergency.
I don't agree with this. In all my travels to Thailand and Singapore, I've always used my Schwab at an ATM an always gotten the live FX rate for the day (which comes from Visa, not the bank). I've used my Schwab multiple times in multiple countries on every continent except Africa and never once have I looked at my FX rate and felt like I got scammed by hidden FX fee - it has always matched the daily rate and usually the low end of the daily rate (in contrast to my CSP and now CSR which typically are on the higher side of the daily rate) and I've always been refunded the correct fee amount.

And I'm not some special Schwab customer - I keep minimal money in the account, just enough to cover travels and it usually only ramps up before a trip so it's definitely not Schwab doing me some favor as a preferred customer because I'm anything but that with Schwab.

I've never once seen a licensed money changer with a better rate than I've gotten at an ATM.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 1:59 pm
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Originally Posted by Duke787 View Post
I don't agree with this. In all my travels to Thailand and Singapore, I've always used my Schwab at an ATM an always gotten the live FX rate for the day (which comes from Visa, not the bank). I've used my Schwab multiple times in multiple countries on every continent except Africa and never once have I looked at my FX rate and felt like I got scammed by hidden FX fee - it has always matched the daily rate and usually the low end of the daily rate (in contrast to my CSP and now CSR which typically are on the higher side of the daily rate) and I've always been refunded the correct fee amount.

And I'm not some special Schwab customer - I keep minimal money in the account, just enough to cover travels and it usually only ramps up before a trip so it's definitely not Schwab doing me some favor as a preferred customer because I'm anything but that with Schwab.

I've never once seen a licensed money changer with a better rate than I've gotten at an ATM.
You are correct! If you're able to get the same rate obtained on the visa website then you will get better rates.

For example below i'm using the rates from the famous "money changers" at the Mid Valley Mall in Kuala Lumpur. Usually they provide the best rates in KUL.

Learn something new everyday.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 3:31 pm
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I carry cash and exchange over there
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Old Apr 25, 17, 4:57 pm
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Originally Posted by SBR249 View Post
I have a Capital One checking account with a mastercard debit card. No foreign transaction fee on any transaction ATM or otherwise (I think they reimburse a few ATM fees per month though I've never been charged one and the offer is probably expired) and the rates are pretty close to market rates and published daily mastercard rates (usually within a penny).

I've been living abroad for a bit but still have income from the US and ATM withdrawals on the CapOne debit card is pretty much the cheapest way for me to transfer money regularly.

Edit: but to answer the question, ATM withdrawals on a fee-free debit card is usually the cheapest method to get cash abroad. Just make sure the ATM doesn't have an exorbitant charge and you don't ask the ATM's bank to do the conversion for you.
Bingo! I use the CapOne 360 card all over Europe. No FTF and works great in ATMs. I do use a banks ATM, not private ones in stores.
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Old Apr 25, 17, 8:15 pm
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Originally Posted by CosmosHuman View Post
Bingo! I use the CapOne 360 card all over Europe. No FTF and works great in ATMs. I do use a banks ATM, not private ones in stores.
The one reason I push Schwab (and I'm not familiar with CapOne so I'm only speaking from my experience) is that they will reimburse fees from private ATMs in stores / gas station / hotels both in the US and around the world with no limit on the number of fee reimbursements.
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