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Avoid Teller Fees Through the Global ATM Alliance


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Cash is king. And the worst place to exchange your money is at the airport: foreign exchange desks are known to rip you off. In fact, it’s often much, much cheaper (and more efficient, to boot) to withdraw from an ATM. Especially when there are no charges.

However, most banks will charge transaction fees (anywhere from $3 to $5) and can often charge an additional percentage for each foreign currency withdrawal. This scenario often leads people to withdrawing tons of money at a single time, but if you’re on the up-and-up, you’ll know that there’s a worldwide alliance of banks that waive fees for respective members.

And thankfully, they’re big banks, on –wait for it— all six major continents, unless you’re keen to do some shopping on Antarctica. So if you’re on a big trip, prepare and open an account ahead of time with any members of the Global ATM Alliance. Just a word of warning – specific policies may vary, so check with your bank before you go all cash-happy.

  • Bank of America (United States)
  • Barclays (United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Ghana, Kenya, and other countries in Africa)
  • BNP Paribas (France)
  • Deutsche Bank (Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal and Italy)
  • Santander Serfin (Mexico)
  • Scotiabank (Canada, Caribbean, Peru, Chile and Mexico)
  • Westpac (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands)
  • ABSA (South Africa)
  • UkrSibbank (Ukraine)
  • China Construction Bank (China, Hong Kong)

(Americans only: If you’ve got a Charles Schwab account, it refunds all ATM fees. You don’t need this list!)

[Wikipedia]
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  • andy

    and remember! if you do happen to be stuck somewhere that doesn’t accept your card, or if the atm is broken/uncooperative, just change enough for transport into the city and a meal. that way you set yourself up for better exchange rates in the city (and you don’t starve).

  • Erica Ho

    Good call, Andy.

  • Matt

    Also for Americans, some credit unions won’t charge fees for using foreign ATM AND will reimburse you the foreign bank’s ATM fees. Make sure to check beforehand, obviously.

    • Erica Ho

      Definitely a plus for credit unions!

  • Mae

    Open a Citibank checking account. They have branches throughout the world.

    • Erica Ho

      Good one, Mae. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Jonathan

    Hello! If you have the chance, open an account with DKB in Germany. They give a VISA credit card for free. And best of all, you can withdraw money free of charge at any ATM in the world! It works like a charm. They even offer Lufthansa miles for opening the account!

    • Erica Ho

      Jon, thanks for the heads up!

  • felep mores

    why are some people saying that China construction hong kong is not included?

    • http://maphappy.org/ Erica Ho

      Not sure, but I didn’t have a problem when I was there.




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