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European Delivery
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  #1  
Old 10-27-2015, 02:16 PM
sactoken sactoken is offline
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Visa ATM surcharge

I just got back from Europe where I'd used my bank ATM card for cash withdrawals. On my bank statement, I see that there was a 2% surcharge identified as "EFT Service Charge" added to each withdrawal. I've traveled to Europe many times, using ATM cards from this and other banks, and have never been charged this fee before. I called the bank and they told me this was a charge from Visa that they had no control over. I told them I'd never been charged it before, and they told me that it's been in place for years, and they didn't know why I hadn't been charged it before. I do use my no-forex-fee Chase Sapphire card whenever possible, but still need cash for when I can't.

I wonder if this is a normal charge. Have others had this surcharge charged on their cards, and if not, how you've avoided it (i.e., what bank doesn't charge it)? Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 10-27-2015, 02:33 PM
RKA RKA is offline
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We have a chase premier checking acct and were charged just under 3% for withdrawals abroad this past May. They tagged them as "exchange rate adjustment" or some nonsense.

Fortunately (or not) we don't travel often, so I don't have any other foreign withdrawals to compare to.
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  #3  
Old 10-27-2015, 03:14 PM
Ninong Ninong is offline
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If you have a brokerage account with Charles Schwab, you can withdraw cash from your account at any ATM worldwide without ATM fees. Schwab refunds the ATM fee no matter where you are -- anywhere in the US as well as anywhere in the world. It's a VISA debit card but Schwab treats it as if it's a credit card. The usual cash withdrawal daily limit (for your protection) is $1,000 but you can call them in advance and request that the daily limit be moved either up or down for the duration of your trip. You need to be sure you're using the correct ATM machines for this to hold true. I'm sure they don't want you using any privately-owned ATM machines. The usual bank ATM machines are okay.

P.S. -- I edited this to remove something I said about no surcharges because I'm not positive about that. You would have to ask them about their current policy. I'm positive that they will refund the ATM fee for withdrawals from any authorized ATM machine anywhere in the world. I'm just not sure anymore about "surcharges" imposed by others???

Last edited by Ninong; 10-27-2015 at 07:47 PM.
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  #4  
Old 10-27-2015, 06:53 PM
jcs jcs is offline
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I use a Schwab Bank Debit Card for ATM withdrawal when I travel. I lowered my purchase limit to $1/day, so basically it works like an ATM card. No fee anywhere, and they reimburse ATM fees if they show up as such.

My back up is a TD ATM card... same great exchange rate, but $3. fee per transaction. It came handy last month in Pilsen!
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  #5  
Old 10-28-2015, 12:05 AM
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Eagle11 Eagle11 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sactoken View Post
I just got back from Europe where I'd used my bank ATM card for cash withdrawals. On my bank statement, I see that there was a 2% surcharge identified as "EFT Service Charge" added to each withdrawal. I've traveled to Europe many times, using ATM cards from this and other banks, and have never been charged this fee before. I called the bank and they told me this was a charge from Visa that they had no control over. I told them I'd never been charged it before, and they told me that it's been in place for years, and they didn't know why I hadn't been charged it before. I do use my no-forex-fee Chase Sapphire card whenever possible, but still need cash for when I can't.

I wonder if this is a normal charge. Have others had this surcharge charged on their cards, and if not, how you've avoided it (i.e., what bank doesn't charge it)? Thanks!
It's normal, I was charged 3% for my withdrawals.
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  #6  
Old 10-28-2015, 03:57 AM
gesoffen gesoffen is offline
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Visa typically charges a flat 1% fee on all foreign transactions. Your bank/Credit Union may tack on an additional 1-3% (or in some cases give you a refund of a few percent if yours is a "rewards" program). In the years past, this has not been itemized separately, rather it was included in the exchange rate conversion (i.e. unless you knew the conversion rate at the moment you made the purchase, it was hard to tell that there was a foreign transaction fee). In the past few years, my credit union has been itemizing the fee separately due to some legal requirements. if I recall.

I suspect your bank is charging 1% on top of the 1% VISA charges but this can be verified in your terms of service/use that accompanies the credit card. While there are several low or zero percent cards out there, 1% or 2% is still much better than cash conversion at banks or exchanges.

Edited: It just clicked in my head that you were talking about cash withdraws (my experience above is more focused on a traditional credit card transaction). Your bank and VISA very likely has separate terms of service/use for cash withdraw compared to purchases so check both.
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Last edited by gesoffen; 10-28-2015 at 03:59 AM.
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  #7  
Old 10-28-2015, 06:22 AM
Thrillington Thrillington is offline
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You can get cards with no foreign transaction fees to avoid these charges. Another thing to keep in mind, particularly for hotel bills... Use a card with no foreign transaction fees and always pay in local currency for your charges. If you elect to be charged in US dollars then you are typically paying for an extra conversion fee. It seems like every hotel in Asia will charge you in US dollars by default and hit you with the extra conversion.

I do a fairly significant amount of international travel and usually only take the two cards I have with no foreign transaction fees with me. My credit union also doesn't hit a fee there on my debit/atm card. Here's a link to a list of banks that issue cards with no foreign transactions. Scroll down the page a bit. http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/top-c...e-credit-card/
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  #8  
Old 10-29-2015, 06:17 AM
gesoffen gesoffen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrillington View Post
You can get cards with no foreign transaction fees to avoid these charges. Another thing to keep in mind, particularly for hotel bills... Use a card with no foreign transaction fees and always pay in local currency for your charges. If you elect to be charged in US dollars then you are typically paying for an extra conversion fee. It seems like every hotel in Asia will charge you in US dollars by default and hit you with the extra conversion.

I do a fairly significant amount of international travel and usually only take the two cards I have with no foreign transaction fees with me. My credit union also doesn't hit a fee there on my debit/atm card. Here's a link to a list of banks that issue cards with no foreign transactions. Scroll down the page a bit. http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/top-c...e-credit-card/
Spot on here regarding whats called "Dynamic Currency Conversion" - this may be advertised as a "convenience" but its really only convenient for removing more money from your bank account.

Regarding VISA/MC foreign transaction fees, any/all VISA or MC cards charge a 1% fee. However, many issuers will absorb that fee through various methods (e.g. 1%+ cash back on purchases). I only point this out as the typical terms of service agreements from VISA/MC will likely show the VISA/MC mandated foreign transaction fee. You have to compare that with your terms of service agreement from the issuing bank to determine if your card is really 0% foreign exchange fee.
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  #9  
Old 10-31-2015, 07:27 PM
sactoken sactoken is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gesoffen View Post
Visa typically charges a flat 1% fee on all foreign transactions. Your bank/Credit Union may tack on an additional 1-3% (or in some cases give you a refund of a few percent if yours is a "rewards" program). In the years past, this has not been itemized separately, rather it was included in the exchange rate conversion (i.e. unless you knew the conversion rate at the moment you made the purchase, it was hard to tell that there was a foreign transaction fee). In the past few years, my credit union has been itemizing the fee separately due to some legal requirements. if I recall.
I thought maybe this was a fee that had been rolled into the amount of the withdrawal shown on my statements in earlier years, and it was now being shown as a separate item instead. But I went back and checked the historical conversion rates for the transaction dates on this trip and the last trip I took to Europe in 2014, and calculated the conversion rates used for my transactions in both years, and found that in both cases, the rates matched pretty close. If there had been a 2% surcharge rolled into the 2014 transactions, that wouldn't be the case. So I'm still at a loss as to why I had the surcharge this year but not previously. Maybe I'll call Visa and they can shed some light. (Keep in mind, I'm talking about cash withdrawals at an ATM using a debit card, not credit card purchases. Maybe confusing because both involve Visa)
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  #10  
Old 11-09-2015, 01:55 PM
SpeedsterBek SpeedsterBek is offline
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I was in Europe in September and I too had a foreign transaction fees in both of my Bofa debit card (used only Deutch bank ATMS) and citi master cards. I believe it was ~2.5% or so, not too great but not as bad as what they would charge you at currency exchange booths in airports.
My total fees were close to the cost of 2 full tanks of benzin in Germany, probably going to get a no foreign transaction fee card (from penfed) before my next visit.
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  #11  
Old 11-09-2015, 04:53 PM
Boraxo Boraxo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sactoken View Post
So I'm still at a loss as to why I had the surcharge this year but not previously. Maybe I'll call Visa and they can shed some light. (Keep in mind, I'm talking about cash withdrawals at an ATM using a debit card, not credit card purchases. Maybe confusing because both involve Visa)
Bank change the terms of the cards all the time, you may have missed the official "notice." Also banks now break out the fees due to lawsuits brought by consumers claiming inadequate disclosure.

The solution - as you will discover from using the "search" feature - is to get one of the many cards that do not charge a forex fee or that charge a very low ATM fee.
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  #12  
Old 11-10-2015, 07:04 AM
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Tanning machine Tanning machine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeedsterBek View Post
I was in Europe in September and I too had a foreign transaction fees in both of my Bofa debit card (used only Deutch bank ATMS) and citi master cards. I believe it was ~2.5% or so, not too great but not as bad as what they would charge you at currency exchange booths in airports.
My total fees were close to the cost of 2 full tanks of benzin in Germany, probably going to get a no foreign transaction fee card (from penfed) before my next visit.
BofA changed their deal on their "global ATM alliance" so that you now get charged fees/percentage on foreign withdrawals everywhere.
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Old 11-10-2015, 07:06 AM
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Tanning machine Tanning machine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrillington View Post
You can get cards with no foreign transaction fees to avoid these charges. Another thing to keep in mind, particularly for hotel bills... Use a card with no foreign transaction fees and always pay in local currency for your charges. If you elect to be charged in US dollars then you are typically paying for an extra conversion fee. It seems like every hotel in Asia will charge you in US dollars by default and hit you with the extra conversion.

I do a fairly significant amount of international travel and usually only take the two cards I have with no foreign transaction fees with me. My credit union also doesn't hit a fee there on my debit/atm card. Here's a link to a list of banks that issue cards with no foreign transactions. Scroll down the page a bit. http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/top-c...e-credit-card/
Very useful info, although a different issue from ATM fees.

Indeed, in Asia (and China in particular) dynamic currency conversion is terrible. It's the default, rarely explained, and often the vendor plays dumb about how to override it. Pretty sure the vendor gets a cut of the outrageous overcharge for currency conversion, so have little incentive to find the override button.
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