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Using Your ATM Card Overseas

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Withdrawing from an automated teller machine (ATM) is the quickest and cheapest way to get cash abroad. The nice thing about changing money with your ATM card is that the transaction is based on a wholesale exchange rate. However, most banks charge higher rates for international ATM withdrawals, which is generally either a fixed rate of $1-5 or a percentage (1 or 2 %, normally) of your total withdrawal.

Before your trip abroad, make sure that your ATM card and its networks are recognized at your destination. You can check you ATM’s network by looking up its online locator.

Using Your Card Abroad

1. Many ATMs in Europe do not accept PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) longer than four figures. If you have a longer PIN, contact your bank and ask them to change it. There are cases where, instead of PINs, people have letters. Turn the letters into numbers days before your flight. Remember that most ATMs abroad grant you access to only the primary account of your ATM card. Frequent withdrawals with your ATM card can also cause fraud alerts to be issued, which might freeze your account. If you know you’ll be using your ATM card often while traveling abroad, notify your bank or cardholder beforehand so they can anticipate this change.

2. To avoid being marooned overseas without a working ATM card, call your bank before your departure and tell them where and when you will be going. Moreover, ask for a contact number that you can use overseas in case your card is lost or stolen.

3. Have a back-up plan in case your card is lost, broken, or swallowed by an ATM machine. Your back up might be another ATM card (your own or your friend’s), traveler’s checks, or credit cards.

4. Withdraw the maximum cash for the day each time to avoid accumulated service charges.

5. Withdraw an uneven amount so you do not end up with bills that are hard to break when you are out buying things.

6. Have a safe, concealed place to hide your cash. Even if you are withdrawing cash in a secure place such as a bank kiosk, look around and check the door before using your card. Furthermore, if your card itself should be used to open the door, check whether it works or not: try it on the door. If the door does not close, it might mean it is rigged. There should be a skimming device to collect your card information.

7. Finally, If your debit card can be also used as a credit card, it will bear either a Visa or MasterCard logo. Inquire with your bank and request a “debit only” card. This helps bar the chance of counterfeit online credit transactions. Again, be sure your card information can be skimmed.

More Saving Tips

• Request your bank to set a daily ATM withdrawal limit on your account. Most banks set a per-withdrawal deduction. Would-be scammers can duck that by making a number of withdrawals in succession.

• Keep close watch of your spending each day, and report any possible false or fraudulent withdrawals immediately. Most banks require customers to report lost money within two months or earlier from the time it occurred. This makes it easy for the bank to repay the lost amount and for the customer to have enough time to process the report.

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