Ask Kim


Minimize ATM Fees Overseas

Kimberly Lankford

Take these steps to avoid racking up charges for using your debit and credit cards in another country.



I just spent time in London and Paris, and I was hit with a $10.22 fee at an ATM at Heathrow Airport and a fee of $3.85 to $5.71 per transaction every time I used an ATM in Paris. How do I avoid or minimize these fees on my next trip?

SEE ALSO: Credit Cards You Can Count on Overseas

The charges likely included a fee for using an ATM at a foreign bank as well as a currency-conversion fee, which can run from 1% to 3%. If your bank has overseas branches, you can generally avoid the international ATM fee -- but not the conversion fee -- by using its ATMs while traveling. (Citibank has a Web tool and a mobile app that let you locate its ATMs worldwide.)

If your bank doesn’t have overseas branches, find out whether it is in a network that waives the ATM fee at member banks abroad. Bank of America, for example, is part of the Global ATM Alliance, whose members include Barclays United Kingdom, BNP Paribas France and Deutsche Bank Germany. And some banks reimburse all ATM fees, including international fees. Among them are Schwab Bank and Fidelity Cash Management account.

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To avoid conversion fees on credit cards, you’ll need to choose the right card. American Express, Chase and Citibank have eliminated the fee from some of their premier-level cards, says Bill Hardekopf, of LowCards.com, and Capital One does not charge a foreign-transaction fee at all. Fees vary, so find out what your credit card issuer or bank charges before your trip.

Also, notify your bank or credit card issuer that you’ll be traveling. Bank fraud departments may freeze your account if they can’t reach you to ask about charges in a location that’s not part of your usual pattern.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.



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