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ATM or credit card suggestions

Connecticut
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1,184 posts
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ATM or credit card suggestions

My bank (credit union) debit card will not work in Spain. I'm told they don't allow it because there's too much fraud. But it will work in Mexico, UK, all over the Carribean, so I'm a little peeved that I'm being inconvenienced. The last time I was in Barcelona, I just brought along cash and exchanged it at the airport for a ridiculous fee. I want to be smarter this time.

So my options are, get another bank account that has a debit card with low forex fees, get a prepaid debit card, use my current master card (5% fee, $10 minimum) for cash advances, or get another credit card with low forex fees for cash advances. I prefer to use ATMs and cash as much as possible.

I'm not leaving until the end of May, so I have some time to get things in order. Any suggestions?

Shrewsbury
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for Barcelona
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1. Re: ATM or credit card suggestions

In the UK, current advice is to go for a pre-paid debit card for best value for money, unless you are fortunate enough to be able to get a zero-fee credit or debit card (I think there are still a couple available here).

I'm surprised that fraud risk is given as a reason for not allowing your current card to be used in Spain. From what we hear over this side about crime levels in Mexico I would have thought that Mexico presents a much greater risk. We don't hear very much either on the forum or in general about card fraud perpetrated in Spain.

uk
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2. Re: ATM or credit card suggestions

use the caxtonfx or fairfx prepaid cards. ive used the fairfx one and found it to be very good indeed. Good exchange rate with very very low usage fees, 1.50e for what ever amount to withdraw from an atm, which is better than a percentage fee.

Otherwise nationwide card is one of the best debits for use overseas, but you only get it with a current account, which means you will need to make it a working account, and not just a spare one.

Theres a Halifax credit card also that gives very good overseas usage with minimal or no fees. Go on the moneysavingexpert.com website and it gives really good advice on this whole subject.

Sydney, Australia
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for Train Travel
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3. Re: ATM or credit card suggestions

Advice about the cards available in the UK is totally useless to someone who lives in the USA.

Paris, France
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4. Re: ATM or credit card suggestions

Leon, I actually run a credit union, so I think I can help. In fact, I just received a fraud alert this week mentioning the fraud originating from Spain, as well as several states in the U.S.If a financial institution has suffered losses I can understand why they would have blocks in place. The crooks make counterfeit cards. And in these type of "card present" transactions the accepting merchant is not liable, so the financial institution ends up suffering a loss.

I would check with your credit union to see if they can remove the block for Spain for PIN based transactions. It's possible that they only have signature blocked anyway as this is where the fraud comes from. Or possibly they can give you an ATM card only?

I also have an account at a different credit union who says they blocked Spain, but I was able to use my card last year. Go figure.

If your credit union is unwilling to remove the block, then your next best option would be to open another an account at a different credit union who doesn't have these blocks in place.

It's too bad that a few crooks can cause so many problems.

Barcelona, Spain
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for Barcelona
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5. Re: ATM or credit card suggestions

i always thought that credit fraud was much higher in USA than in spain/europe done the lack of security control (no micro chips on cards, some have no pin, ... ).

this article talks about what it: forbes.com/sites/…

Ottawa, Canada
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6. Re: ATM or credit card suggestions

Will not necessarily address your specific issue, but, in my experience I have found it best to travel with a relatively small amount of local currency (depending upon the location, say @ equivalent of 10 USD per day). I carry 1 days worth on my person, the remainder locked up (unless I know I will need more), until near the end of the journey when I begin spending the cash to prevent going home with awkward currency in my pocket.

Mainly, however, I use a "travel" credit card. One with no FOREX fee, Visa or MC based, and with both pin technology and a small credit limit (depending upon location, but no more than 2k). As a back-up I bring one ATM card, and one credit card, of a different brand, but again, with a controlled limits (pre-arrange with the bank for the duration of your travel) just in case of a system error or loss of your other card(s). These alternative cards remain in the hotel or room safe.

This system limits my exposure to fraud, provides access to most vendors, and allows for some petty cash for smaller items or non credit vendors.

Obviously, adjust as conditions require, but always with a eye to limiting risk from fraud/theft.

Paris, France
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7. Re: ATM or credit card suggestions

Here's what was said in the recent notification that i received from our card processor:

"We have also been notified of international fraud coming from Spain, England and Ireland.

This fraud is internet based e-commerce fraud for high dollar amounts."

Connecticut
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8. Re: ATM or credit card suggestions

Thanks for all your responses. My credit union will not (or can not) issue another debit card - I've asked them specifically about options for international traveling. The caxtonfx or fairfx cards look great, but I need to load with USD. I guess I would prefer not to get another credit card and to find a prepaid debit card, so any pointers to low international fee debit cards would be appreciated. I'll do some googling.

Paris, France
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9. Re: ATM or credit card suggestions

Your credit union may offer a pre-paid debit card or prepaid travel money card - we have both at my credit union. I've read that the American Express pre-paid debit card is more consumer-friendly than most. But will more than likely be priced higher than using a regular ATM or Debit card.

I hate when the fraudsters win.

Edited: 2:16 pm, March 28, 2013
Connecticut
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10. Re: ATM or credit card suggestions

Yes, I've just read about the AMEX prepaid debit card:

americanexpress.com/us/…how-it-works.htm

lt is only $2.00 US for ATM withdrawal fees, with one free withdrawal per month. They do say that other banks may impose their own fees for ATM withdrawals, but I've come to accept that.

This seems like a good option to me. Anyone use one of these? I know AMEX _credit_ cards are not as widely accepted as VISA/MC, but that shouldn't affect a prepaid card, right?