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ATM Caution

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I have always been a big proponent on just getting local currency from an ATM when I arrive.  My bank gives me a better exchange rate and no fees for making the exchange.

 

However, recently I have run into something at ATMs that I though I would pass on.

 

Some ATMs are now offering to make the conversion for you.  Of course, for a small fee, and a worse than bank exchange rate, sometimes WAY worse.  The other day, I had this happen at a EuroNet ATM. When I declined the conversion, the transaction proceeded, charging my card in the local currency.

 

Others seem to not allow you to decline their conversion.  In that case, Cancel the transaction and find another ATM that does not do this.

 

Be heads up.  And pay attention, especially when you just got off that overnight flight. 

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One thing I always do is use bank  ATM’s.   They tend to better exchange rates and less risk of fraud.  In airports you have to be especially careful to avoid the ATM’s of money exchange companies.

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2 hours ago, wheezedr said:

One thing I always do is use bank  ATM’s.   They tend to better exchange rates and less risk of fraud.  In airports you have to be especially careful to avoid the ATM’s of money exchange companies.

Though it's "old news" (been this way in many European and, at least, a few South American countries for at least a decade) SRF's cautionary reminder to avoid choosing any ATM option that leaves conversion to US value up to that local bank is worth repeating.

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5 hours ago, wheezedr said:

One thing I always do is use bank  ATM’s.   They tend to better exchange rates and less risk of fraud.

Bank ATMs also let you withdraw more money.   

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4 hours ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

Though it's "old news" (been this way in many European and, at least, a few South American countries for at least a decade) SRF's cautionary reminder to avoid choosing any ATM option that leaves conversion to US value up to that local bank is worth repeating.

 

I travel internationally about 40% of the time for work, then also do it for pleasure.  Only in the last couple of months have I seen this pop up.

 

We must have been using different ATMs.

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2 hours ago, Wayfairers said:

Bank ATMs also let you withdraw more money.   

 

Withdrawal limit is set by YOUR bank.

 

Mine are the same no matter what ATM I take it out of.

 

But remember the conversion.  If your limit is say $400 per day.  You cannot withdraw 400 Euro or 400 Pounds.

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19 minutes ago, SRF said:

 

I travel internationally about 40% of the time for work, then also do it for pleasure.  Only in the last couple of months have I seen this pop up.

 

We must have been using different ATMs.

Can't remember where I first encountered the choice (Portugal or Spain). But it was during a period of employment around 2008+\- when I was often abroad. FWIW, I only use bank ATMs with the Star, Cirrus, etc logos akin to my home ATM card.

The same "choice" goes for many of the credit charge devices used by hotels/restaurants. What I have noticed that is relatively "new" (last few years) is the option to add/reject an autotip (seen that mostly in major metro areas.

 

Edited by Flatbush Flyer

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I live overseas and see this all the dang time -- today I went to get cash out on my way to the market, and they were offering an exchange rate of 3.1/1 USD. My morning exchange rate email says that my bank's rate is 3.52/1, so it's a hefty difference -- it'd be over $10 on a $100 withdrawal. 

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I was just in Romania.  One of the ATMs at the airport offered 3.7 to $1.  Official was almost 4.3.

 

So $100 would have been short by 6000 lei, or about $15.

 

OUCH.

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What you are describing is Dynamic Currency Conversion, and while it now seems to be nearly universal, it has been a thing for quite a few years in many countries. We've encountered it all over Europe, Asia, and in the US. It seemed to originate in non bank owned ATMs,  but you will see it pop up in bank owned ones as well as in retail situations.  Even the ships "offer" this to international guests. Simply decline the conversion and insist the transaction be in the local currency. Or cancel the transaction. Non bank owned ATMS often use a less favorable exchange rate compared to banks, even without the DCC; that's how they make their money.

 

As for the withdrawal limit- it's twofold. Your bank sets a limit on the maximum they allow you to withdraw on your card. You can ask for this limit to be raised if you want. But the ATM machine will also have its own limit set by its owner. This may be lower than the one on your card.

Edited by mom says

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4 hours ago, SRF said:

 

I travel internationally about 40% of the time for work, then also do it for pleasure.  Only in the last couple of months have I seen this pop up.

 

We must have been using different ATMs.

 

I also have noticed it at least for the last couple of years. Seems to be more widespread though and it never hurts to remind people who may not travel often or be aware.

 

4 hours ago, SRF said:

 

Withdrawal limit is set by YOUR bank.

 

Mine are the same no matter what ATM I take it out of.

 

But remember the conversion.  If your limit is say $400 per day.  You cannot withdraw 400 Euro or 400 Pounds.

 

While the above is true, it's also true that ATM machines may have limits on the amount that can be withdrawn in individual transactions. I know in Italy this is often true in highly trafficked locations -- it's done so the machines aren't drained of cash as quickly.

 

Often there is no warning to indicate this limit and if you try to withdraw too much, your card will be rejected and you won't know why. If this happens, best to try a smaller amount.

 

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I first saw this at a Travelex ATM (the name should have tipped me off) at Heathrow in 2012, although I had heard about it on travel forums before that. I don't recall seeing an option to decline the conversion but I was jet-lagged and in a hurry. 

I saw it again at Shannon Airport in 2016 but that ATM had a clearer option to decline the conversion.

I don't think I've ever seen the option at a bank ATM.

Edited by Underwatr

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16 hours ago, SRF said:

I have always been a big proponent on just getting local currency from an ATM when I arrive.  My bank gives me a better exchange rate and no fees for making the exchange.

 

However, recently I have run into something at ATMs that I though I would pass on.

 

Some ATMs are now offering to make the conversion for you.  Of course, for a small fee, and a worse than bank exchange rate, sometimes WAY worse.  The other day, I had this happen at a EuroNet ATM. When I declined the conversion, the transaction proceeded, charging my card in the local currency.

 

Others seem to not allow you to decline their conversion.  In that case, Cancel the transaction and find another ATM that does not do this.

 

Be heads up.  And pay attention, especially when you just got off that overnight flight. 

Good advice, I noticed that the exchange the ATM was offering was considerable. For 100 pounds it would have cost $245 AUD instead of $180, that was an extra $65 AUD that can stay in my bank account..

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6 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

11 hours ago, SRF said:

 

Withdrawal limit is set by YOUR bank.

 

Mine are the same no matter what ATM I take it out of.

 

But remember the conversion.  If your limit is say $400 per day.  You cannot withdraw 400 Euro or 400 Pounds.

 

 

While the above is true, it's also true that ATM machines may have limits on the amount that can be withdrawn in individual transactions. I know in Italy this is often true in highly trafficked locations -- it's done so the machines aren't drained of cash as quickly.

 

Often there is no warning to indicate this limit and if you try to withdraw too much, your card will be rejected and you won't know why. If this happens, best to try a smaller amount.

 

Agreed....we have found many ATM machines have a limit that is below what your bank has set.  And, yes, there is no warning to indicate the limit.

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10 hours ago, SRF said:

I was just in Romania.  One of the ATMs at the airport offered 3.7 to $1.  Official was almost 4.3.

 

So $100 would have been short by 6000 lei, or about $15.

 

OUCH.

 

Does not compute 🤔

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48 minutes ago, CPT Trips said:

Does not compute 🤔

US$100 = 4,300,000 Lei at the interbank rate

US$100 = 3,700,000 Lei using the ATM's conversion (That's an expensive Lei.)

US$13.95 = 600,000 Lei

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On 9/22/2019 at 11:26 PM, MicCanberra said:

Perhaps some people go there just to get a million lei's in one lifetime.

Hawaii is better.

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9 minutes ago, MicCanberra said:

Not sure I could handle more than 3 or 4 leis in Hawaii.

😄 I see what ya did there.

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I get local currency at home because I prefer to have it when I arrive and we have a good currency exchange close to home. Their rates compare well. 

 

Sometimes I need to top up and have seen the conversion offer at ATMs and credit card terminals in the UK and Europe for several years now. I have not encountered one where I could not decline there offer.

 

 

Edited by K32682

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Likewise, I think you just need to be aware that there are options and sometimes, it is the first one and sometimes it is the second, either way you need to select the right one. and if there is no option, go to another ATM (ones associated in or with a bank is best).

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On September 22, 2019 at 11:20 PM, whogo said:

US$100 = 4,300,000 Lei at the interbank rate

US$100 = 3,700,000 Lei using the ATM's conversion (That's an expensive Lei.)

US$13.95 = 600,000 Lei

 

Let me know where you can exchange $100 for over 4 million lei. You bought into the other poster's error. Move the lei decimal four places leftward.

 

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I think it was brussels, but on my last europe jaunt, one of the stations only had travelex atms - not only was it an awful rate, but you could only withdraw it in 500 euro denominations! 

 

Accidentally got an awful rate at heathrow, trying to get a few euros - pressed "yes please" instead of "no thanks" adn got a rate of about 0.9...

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