Guide to using ATMs abroad

19-02-2018 #travel

Whether you're going to Barbados or the Balkans on your next trip abroad, the chances are you'll be using at least one foreign ATM at some point. There are some subtle differences when it comes to withdrawing money abroad which means that using these overseas cashpoints isn't always straightforward. Before you head off, read some of our best tips on using foreign ATMs.  


The one rule you should know

There's one simple rule you should know when withdrawing money abroad. When the ATM asks if you'd like to be charged in your home currency, always say no. Instead, always choose to be charged in the local currency - for example, euros if you're in the Eurozone, and dollars if you're in the US. Saying no to the bank's tempting offer of converting your withdrawal into your home currency means you'll also be saying no to their hiked up exchange rate, which is designed to maximise their profit. This practice is known as Dynamic Currency Conversion and basically means that the foreign bank can charge you any exchange rate they like. So, remember the simple rule of saying no when it comes to on-the-spot conversions and you'll save yourself a tidy sum each time you use the ATM.


Avoid independent ATMs

When choosing which ATM to use, you should always avoid independent ATMs. These are ATMs that aren't affiliated with a particular bank, but are instead named things like Cashzone, Travelex, and Euronet. Most of the time, these ATMs will have high fees and will also try to trick you with the kind of Dynamic Currency Conversion we mentioned above.


Don't use your credit card

Unless you absolutely have no alternative, it's best not to use your credit card for withdrawals, or you'll incur a high cash advance interest rate. Of course, this won't be a problem if you're using an EasyFX prepaid currency card; find out more here.


Check your maximum withdrawal amount

Before you head off, make sure you're familiar with your card's maximum withdrawal amount. This is the maximum you can take out within 24 hours. Bear in mind also that the 24 hour period could be measured in your home country's time zone, so don't get caught out if you need to make a large withdrawal - leave yourself enough time in advance to withdraw the cash over a two day period.


Withdraw in larger amounts

If you're not using an EasyFX card, you'll be charged fees each time you make a withdrawal. So, try to take out larger amounts to avoid multiple withdrawals (and fees) in a short space of time.


Use ATMs in banking hours

It's best to use an ATM outside a bank during the bank's opening hours. That way, if you have any issues with the machine, there will always be someone inside to help you.


Before you go

Foreign transactions that suddenly show up on your account activity can trigger a fraud alert and cause your bank to freeze your account. Though this practice is becoming less common, it's a good idea to notify your bank that you're going away before you head off to avoid any mishaps. At the same time, it's also good to find out the number you should call from abroad if your card is lost or stolen. Keep this number somewhere safe, away from your wallet.

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