Using Overseas ATMS
Wherever you travel in the
world, cold hard cash is your most essential necessity. This is true if you're
buying a cup of coffee in Los Angeles, a silk scarf in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar
or a bracelet off a street vendor in Hong Kong. That is why the first thing
many travelers look for when they step off the plane in a foreign country is an
ATMs usually solve the traveler's dilemma of where to safely
and quickly obtain local currency. All cash withdrawals, regardless of size,
are exchanged based on the wholesale exchange rate, which is usually a few
percentage points better than the rate at a local exchange counter. Plus, these
machines are practically everywhere - ATM cards linked to the PLUS or Cirrus
networks can be used in more than 135 countries - which makes them the
convenient choice of cash-strapped travelers.
Yet some travelers are
running into ATMs that, like stingy uncles, refuse to give them money, usually
when they try using their debit cards. Recently, debit cards have been the
targets of international frauds, prompting banks to block out entire countries
where these frauds occur most often. Travelers usually don't even know a block
is currently in place until they are standing cashless in front of an ATM,
mildly cursing at their debit card that no longer seems to be working.
Countries that have recently been blocked by various banks
include England, Thailand, the Philippines, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Singapore
and Japan, though different banks utilize different criteria when selecting
countries. Also, some banks block PIN-based transactions, while others block
signature-based transactions; it all depends on their risk threshold.
Unfortunately for travelers,
banks are not required to inform their customers about these bans, for they do
not want to tip their hand to the countermeasures they're employing to
criminals. Travel agents urge you to call your bank or check out its Web site
before you leave to find out if your debit card will work at your destination.
Here are some additional tips
from travel agents concerning the use of ATMs when traveling abroad:
Take a variety of
such as credit cards, debit cards, traveler's checks and currency, to be
prepared for all circumstances.
Go to a bank if you
have problems withdrawing cash
from an ATM. Many debit cards can also function as a credit card, which will
allow you to get a cash advance (though at a higher interest rate than a normal
Bring your bank's
when you travel, just in case your card fails to work like you expect.
If your PIN number is
longer than four digits,
go to your bank and have it changed. Many ATM's abroad, especially in Europe,
do not accept PIN numbers longer than four digits.
If your PIN number is
based on letters,
translate the letters into numbers before leaving the country. Many ATMs abroad
only have numbers on their keypads.
Information obtained from www.travelsense.org .