I can feel the judgey eyes of the PF community on me right now, but let me explain:
I would never pay an ATM fee in Canada. I have my phone which can locate an ATM in 5 seconds and I am really, just that cheap that I will walk out of my way to go to my ATM rather than pay a convenience fee. However, I traveled a bit last year. While I prefer using my Visa, sometimes you need cash while abroad and I don’t have access to my bank’s ATM.
Travel guides tell you to carry traveler’s cheques while abroad but, come on. I’m 24 years old, not 80. I don’t have the time or inclination to buy, carry, redeem or worry about traveler’s cheques. Who wants to spend their vacation hunting down the best place to exchange traveler’s cheques for currency? Who wants to pay 1-2% to buy them?
Yes, there is security in carrying traveler’s cheques, namely if you lose them, AMEX will cover the loss and you won’t be out any money. Here’s the problem, at least from my point of view:
Traveler’s cheques come in denominations of $100 and cost (at RBC), 1.25% or $1.25 each. Once redeemed, the cash is a “loseable” as had you not bought traveler’s cheques at all. Alternatively, you can do what I do which is called “Find a local ATM and withdraw local currency”. It costs $2 which is pretty much the same as the price of $150 of traveler’s cheques. If I withdraw $160, I come out ahead and don’t have to deal with the hassle of traveler’s cheques. Obviously, if the ATM from which you are withdrawing money charges additional fees, you might need to reconsider. I, however, have only see local ATM fees in North America and gladly pay them because the cost is nominal when compared to the traveler’s cheque commissions.
Alternatively, some people just carry large amounts of cash with them when they travel which is just ridiculous. Yes I ran around London looking for an ATM and panicky about having only £5 in my pocket but at least I didn’t sleep with one eye open like my friend who left Europe with over $1000 in leftover currency.
Finally, you can check with your bank to see if they have agreements with international banks. A friend of mine visited France last year and was able to withdraw without charge from BNP Paribas because she banked with Bank of America.
Various and sundry:
- I bank predominantly with ING means that I pay $0 in fees. I am automatically ahead of everyone who doesn’t bank with ING because Canadian banks are insane with monthly fees ($5-10 minimum)
- I am not allowed to bank with Ally or PC Financial because I live in Quebec. Just want to put that out there
- Why is it that I’m charged an ATM fee if I use my ING card at an ING ATM in the States or Europe but also when I use it at a Scotiabank ATM? Why am I not charged fees when I use HSBC and certain National bank ATMs? It’s all very confusing.
- Similarly, why does my Scotiabank card not free to use at Scotia ATMs in the Caribbean? Or my RBC card in American RBC ATMs?
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