Using ATMs Abroad

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For many travelers, ATMs provide the most convenient and least expensive way to get cash while traveling internationally. ATMs tend to offer the best exchange rates and may not charge transaction fees as high as those of local institutions. Using an ATM card abroad, however, can be a little different than using it at home, so keep the following tips in mind.

– Know your network. Your ATM card is probably linked to one or more major ATM networks. Look for a PLUS, Maestro, or Cirrus logo on your card to determine which ones. Most of the major networks let you use ATMs all over the world, but just in case, you should check to ensure your card will work in the country you’re traveling to by using your network’s online locator.

– Know your fees. Your bank will probably levy a transaction fee when you use your ATM card abroad. The ATM owner may charge a fee as well. To keep from being broadsided by these fees, check them in advance, and consider withdrawing larger amounts of cash than you might at home, so that you don’t need to make several withdrawals during your trip.

– Alert your bank. Banks are on the lookout for potentially fraudulent activity, including withdrawals from ATMs in foreign countries. If you forget to notify your bank that you’re going on vacation, you may find your ATM card frozen at an inopportune time. Call your bank before you leave so they can put a note in their system, and ask them for a number you can call from abroad if your card is stolen.

– Carry a backup. ATM cards are great until they are stolen, damaged, or expired. Make sure you have more than one way of getting by, whether that means a backup card, traveler’s checks, or cash, in case something happens to your card.

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