Avoid 'Independent' ATMs When Withdrawing Cash Abroad


At home, an independent ATM may mean lower fees and convenient cash, but abroad they can mean trouble. If you don't need cash immediately, stick to ATMs inside or attached to banks to avoid currency conversion and other astronomical fees. Image from chucknado.

So how do you tell the difference between a good ATM and a bad one when you don't know the bank names or brands around you? Rick Steves explains how to tell the difference:

Most bank ATMs in Europe don't charge a usage fee, but stay away from "independent" ATMs, which have high fees and may try to trick users with "dynamic currency conversion." These ATMs (labelled with names such as Travelex, Euronet, Moneybox, Cardpoint, and Cashzone) are often found next to bank ATMs in the hope that travellers will be too confused to notice the difference.

If you're travelling to somewhere not in Europe, do a quick search before you go to find out the common names used in your destination for these types of ATMs. Beyond avoiding high fees, using the banks' ATMs also means you're less subject to scammers and can go inside the bank to ask for help if the ATM gives you any issues.

Tips on Using ATMs in Europe [Rick Steves]


    ...an independent ATM may mean lower fees Really? Where? I don't think I've ever used one that charged less than $2.

      I suspect they mean non-big4 chains like RediATM who have arrangements so that banks pick up the process fee not the customer.

      But agree that the majority of independent ATMs charge like wounded bulls. In fact there is a thriving market of ATM rentals. That is, a company owns and services an ATM, but lease that machine to an investor. The investor covers their lease and makes an income by charging per transaction, with the owning company getting a cut.

      This is a tricky investment. The owning company always makes money since they get the lease fee. The lessee only makes money if the ATM is used. Set too high a transaction fee and people may walk away. Set too low a transaction fee and risk not covering the lease.

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