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exchange rates when using ATMs


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There's been some sporadic discussion about how much commission banks add to the interbank rate when an American uses an ATM in a foreign country. I decided to establish some data points from recent transactions of my own.

 

I checked [http://www.oanda.com/converter/classic] (which has historic data) for the interbank rates CAD$ - USD$ on 5 days on which I made ATM withdrawals in Montreal, and used those to compute the % add-on that I was charged for each transaction. The results were:

 

5/23/2005 2.663%

5/24/2005 2.018%

5/25/2005 2.174%

6/27/2005 2.320%

6/28/2005 2.265%

 

It may or may not be relevant that the last 4 transactions were all at the same branch of the Banque de Montreal, while the first was at an ATM machine of a different bank (I think) at the airport.

 

When I get up the courage, I will attempt to find out from my bank what their policy is -- I need enough time to get through the voice prompts and the front line people until I find someone who understands the question AND knows the answer.

 

I'd be interested in other people's data if they care to post it.

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The issue is not whether you get a better deal (commission included) by using an ATM (as opposed to a credit card, changing real $$'s or traveler's checks, etc. -- there seems to be general agreement that you do), but rather how much we are charged over the interbank rate (the rate banks use among themselves) when we use an ATM.

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Does this take into account the fee that ATMs charge for using a bank other than your own? Are credit cards a better deal when you factor that in? Long ago credit cards didn't add on a conversion fee.

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>Does this take into account the fee that ATMs charge for using a bank other than your own? Are credit cards a better

>deal when you factor that in?

 

Nope, I didn't factor that in, since it varies a lot by bank (some posters in the earlier threads indicated there are even banks which have no charge for withdrawals from "foreign" -- in your sense -- ATMs).

 

My own bank charges $1.50 for each such transaction; there were no fees on the Montreal end. If I add those in, the results are

 

5/23/2005 3.043%

5/24/2005 2.395%

5/25/2005 2.551%

6/27/2005 2.691%

6/28/2005 2.634%

 

MC and Visas from "major" banks charge 3%; Amex charges 2%, I think. You can find banks whose credit cards add a lower commission, although there is a base 1% charged by the MC/Visa people.

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I used a Wachovia card in ATMs in Germany last month; Wachovia charged $2 per withdrawal (not included in percentages below), regardless of the amount withdrawn.

 

6/06 in Berlin: 2.09% on a $60 withdrawal

6/09 in Weimar: 2.41% on a $120 withdrawal

 

I have no idea what factors (date, bank, city, exchange rate fluctuations, etc.) are responsible for the great difference.

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