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  1. #1


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    Folks: OK, so my bank (Bank of America) charges a 3% fee on both its ATM card and its charge card (Visa). The ATM exchange rate is set by the bank you withdraw the money from in Italy, while the charge exchange rate is set by Bank of America. (I know; I should probably get a Capitol One Card and a Citizen's Bank Account but it''s too late. I leave for Florence next week)

    Meanwhile, I find out that I can get a Visa charge card from AAA that supposedly charges 1% over the "published exchange rate". Can anyone verify this (I am suspicious of their making up the difference in the exchange rate) and is this a good deal? It would appear better for me to charge using this card than to use my ATM.

    ---Marlene

  2. #2


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    Folks: OK, so my bank (Bank of America) charges a 3% fee on both its ATM card and its charge card (Visa). The ATM exchange rate is set by the bank you withdraw the money from in Italy, while the charge exchange rate is set by Bank of America. (I know; I should probably get a Capitol One Card and a Citizen's Bank Account but it''s too late. I leave for Florence next week)

    Meanwhile, I find out that I can get a Visa charge card from AAA that supposedly charges 1% over the "published exchange rate". Can anyone verify this (I am suspicious of their making up the difference in the exchange rate) and is this a good deal? It would appear better for me to charge using this card than to use my ATM.

    ---Marlene

  3. #3


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    You'll need a source for cash, and one that is not a bank branch or credit card; a debit or ATM card works best. 1% is a customary rate for cash withdrawal, 2% for credit cards. 3% is high.

    The published exchange rate is usually the Interbank rate, and you should be able to verify it with AAA.

    I'd still find a way to get a cash card before you go...you'd be surprised how fast the banks, etc. can get you set up if they stand to profit!

  4. #4


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    I believe BofA charges 5 dollars/transaction plus the exchange fee which is 1% this was accurate as of July 15,2006 . RR

  5. #5


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    RR: That's not what my BoA branch manager told me. I've also read something about Visa charging a fee (on top of the Bank fee?). Guess I should check all this out again.
    ---Marlene

  6. #6


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    Marlene, I believe Robert is right. I called BofA (also my bank) to check it out, and they do charge a $5 per transaction fee PLUS the 3% exchange fee PLUS I think you also get charged for using a non-BofA ATM. Do anything possible not to use your BofA debit OR credit cards in Europe! They have to have one of the worst deals around.
    Beth

  7. #7
    I have been told by my bank to use my ATM/visa card for all charges - therefore emilinating the 3% surcharge - just make sure you have overdraft protection or have it linked to another account

  8. #8


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    As I said I use BofA for my bank mostly due to convienience.I was charged 5 dollars/transaction and 1% conversion ($1/100) for purchases and ATM(on my July,2006 trip).

    It is possible that a BofA visa would charge 3%,we did not use ours.

    Specific Example itimized

    July 14,2006 ATM withdrawl UBS Geneva .81
    Non Bank ATM fee 5.00
    ATM amount of withdrawl ( 100 Francs) 81.33

    RR

    RR

  9. #9

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    Yes, I have inquired into this fee and my Chase Bank Visa charges three percent, but our Navy Federal Credit Union charges one. Also, don't forget to call your Visa and tell them you are leaving the country so they won't be suspicious of charges. DMC

  10. #10


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    My Mastercard (AT&T Universal) also charges the 3%. So I'm going to see if Citizen's Bank can do something for me tomorrow. ---Marlene

  11. #11
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    Marlene, how much time do you have before depature? I just got a Capital One card before our last trip - no surchage and they print the exchange rate they used for each transaction on the statement. I was converted at a better rate than the rate showing on GoCurrency.com. If you have time, you may want to apply. I know sometimes, over the course of a trip it ends up being a minimal amount, but to me it's the principle.

  12. #12


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    Kim: Wow, that sounds great. I figure my 3-week trip will be something around $4-5K so a 3% savings is over $100 - enough for a shopping spree .

    Unfortunately, I'm leaving next Thursday. I will definitely have to get a Capital One Card next time I go. I notice that Capital One has several kinds of cards. Which one do you have?

    ---Marlene

  13. #13
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">I have been told by my bank to use my ATM/visa card for all charges - therefore emilinating the 3% surcharge - </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    But, unless you have a bank unlike others, you will still be charged a 1% conversion fee--not a charge for using the ATM but a conversion fee. I never did find a bank that did not do this--even credit unions.

    As far as Capital One--it is exactly as it says--no fee. We live in Italy now and use it to charge whenever we can as it is cheaper than getting money from ATM. I've double checked and cross checked bills and statements and so know this is accurate info. Of course, if I were to use it to access money at the ATM there would be a charge.

    With the strong euro, try to save money anyway you can!!! The weak dollar is a killer.

  14. #14
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    I have the No Hassle Rewards with Capital One. You're right, for $100 it's worth it. You should call them today - sometimes they can approve you over the phone and rush a card. You might be able to make it.

  15. #15
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">You're right, for $100 it's worth it. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I have a No Hassle card but there was no charge for it. Are you sure you were charged?

  16. #16
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    Sorry for the confusion Jane, that's $100 in conversion savings, it's worth it to get another credit card (i.e., the Capital One). There's no fee for the capital one card.

    Guess I was just making the point that we often get hung up on that conversion fee of 3%. On a trip where you're charging about $1000 that's only $30. Really not a big deal in the overall scheme but in Marlene's case, she'll be charging between $3,000 and $4,000 - thus a savings of $90 - $120 on the conversion by having Capital One versus the BofA card, in my mind, worth switching.

  17. #17


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    Thanks to all for you help and advice. I spent two hours (!!) today opening a Citizens account. Unfortuately what I will save in Italy will be spent on the parking ticket I got today while I was in the bank . My AAA credit card arrived today. Ironically, it's connected somehow to Bank of America (which has the high rates I was trying to avoid in the first place). I'm going to double check that those lower rates are real. It is disconcerting how difficult it is to determine what the real costs are of using ATM, debit and credit cards in Italy. Now, I have a related question, but will open a new thread. ---Marlene

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