Personal Finance

Cheapest way to get money out of an ATM overseas?

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 10th, 2020 6:48 am
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 22, 2012
895 posts
75 upvotes
MONTR

Cheapest way to get money out of an ATM overseas?

Hi,

Today I noticed the exchange rate between different ATMs are huge. For example for 18000 THB Google reports it as 782 CAD.

Cyan/Light blue ATM showed 864 CAD, while yellow ATM showed 814. Even the difference between them is insane.

I always use the yellow one but how to know the best rate out of ATMs? And then there is already ATM fee and also forex due to me not having received my Stack card yet.

Is there a way to get the best rate, other than trying each ATM one by one? I assume one bank almost always offers better rate than others?


Thanks in advance.
23 replies
Deal Addict
Aug 1, 2006
1613 posts
1175 upvotes
Toronto
Once you get Stack card, use that, and do not choose "dynamic currency" because then the machine will do the FX for you. You want the machine to charge Stack in the local currency.
Deal Addict
Jul 15, 2009
2078 posts
1197 upvotes
Rule #1: Don't ask the ATM to convert to CAD, just have it charge you in the local currency. If you know how much CAD it's going to cost you before you finalize the withdrawal, you're paying too much.

Rule #2: Get a card with no currency exchange fees. Most Canadian cards charge 2.5-3.5% plus $3-5. Stack is a good choice here.

Rule #3: In the foreign country, find an ATM with a low or no foreign ATM withdrawal fee. This depends on the country and on the bank operating the ATM. Rules 1 and 2 will make more of a difference.
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 22, 2012
895 posts
75 upvotes
MONTR
Thanks but for rule #1, how to avoid the conversion of the ATM? It always automatically asks me 20K THB is X CAD, plus ATM fee 220 (I think) = total. Then asks "Are you sure?". If you say no, then it just cancels the operation or goes back to the previous screen.
Deal Addict
Dec 25, 2017
2058 posts
1490 upvotes
lachdanan wrote: Thanks but for rule #1, how to avoid the conversion of the ATM? It always automatically asks me 20K THB is X CAD, plus ATM fee 220 (I think) = total. Then asks "Are you sure?". If you say no, then it just cancels the operation or goes back to the previous screen.
How about trying it? They usually try to trick you into DCC but won’t force you into it. It should let you make a withdraw regardless.
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 22, 2012
895 posts
75 upvotes
MONTR
IEpicDestroyer wrote: How about trying it? They usually try to trick you into DCC but won’t force you into it. It should let you make a withdraw regardless.
Ok next time I will try it. I recall trying it but if it's like you said, I will see how much difference will it be if it actually works.
Deal Addict
Jul 15, 2009
2078 posts
1197 upvotes
lachdanan wrote: Thanks but for rule #1, how to avoid the conversion of the ATM? It always automatically asks me 20K THB is X CAD, plus ATM fee 220 (I think) = total. Then asks "Are you sure?". If you say no, then it just cancels the operation or goes back to the previous screen.
ATMs that I've used haven't been so sneaky but I'm sure there are more sneaky ATMs out there.

DCC is supposed to be optional but sometimes if a merchant or ATM tries to force it on you, you have to either argue against it or find another merchant or ATM.

From Wikipedia:

"VISA rule 5.9.8.3 of 13 April 2019 says that ATM customers must be given a clear CHOICE whether to use DCC or not:

"A Merchant or ATM Acquirer that offers Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) must comply with all of the following: . . . "5 Acceptance

"-- Inform the Cardholder that DCC is optional and not use any language or procedures that may cause the Cardholder to choose DCC by default

"-- Ensure that the Cardholder is given all the relevant information to allow them to make a clear and transparent decision to expressly agree to a DCC Transaction"

The reality is otherwise. The screen on an ATM announces the exchange rate that will be used and asks whether the customer accepts or refuses that rate. It appears to be "take it or leave it." There is NO explanation that refusal will not end the transaction, but rather means the exchange will be done without charging the commission. The clear "choice" required by the rule is not presented. In addition, there is usually very small type giving the % of the commission and saying this is not an additional charge (which is false). On some screens there will be advice to be sure to know the rules, but no way is provided to learn the rules and bank tellers are generally unaware of them."
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 22, 2012
895 posts
75 upvotes
MONTR
Thanks that makes a lot of sense. I will report it next time the difference of what I paid last time vs no DCC.
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 22, 2012
895 posts
75 upvotes
MONTR
Ok i just withdraw some from an ATM but this ATM didn't even ask for DCC or not. So in this case is it my card bank or DCC?

I did some calculation it seems about the same price 35 cad more then Google rate.

The last time i see Plus SC 5 cad fee also.

So not sure if i will incur that later with my latest withdrawal.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Dec 13, 2016
3667 posts
3158 upvotes
Use bank of China for 0 atm fees. (few locations)

Use aeon for 150thb fee.

All banks offer the same rate. Some will slap a dcc but you are warned in advance. You probably missed this somehow. The best way would be to open a Thai bank account and use transferwise. The other day a transfer to my SCB bank only took 7 seconds.
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 22, 2012
895 posts
75 upvotes
MONTR
I understand.

After they showed the 220 thb fee i pressed ok then it cashed out. The other option was cancel.

So no DCC screen but the rate seems similar to DCC, so next time i will try with the yellow ATM. Because it was urgent and this was the only one available.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 2, 2002
1792 posts
574 upvotes
Toronto
The wiki in the Stack thread (in the credit card sub forum) has a list of Banks by country where there are no fees. Worth checking out.
Also, while the discussion here is for ATM, be careful when paying in stores where retailers are forcing conversion by accepting it on your behalf. Be sure to watch the pin pad and don’t let them press anything without your acknowledgment. Best is to always hold on to your card, insert it in the pin pad and control everything yourself when it comes to accepting all messages.
Celebrating 18+ years on RFD!
Deal Addict
Jan 21, 2018
4134 posts
4239 upvotes
Vancouver
Useful information, thanks. Foreign exchange and fees with credit cards used in other countries is an ever-evolving scam, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest tricks in each country without stumbling into them unknowingly for the first time.

The other issue that has come up for me a few times is the countries where the ATM sequence of operation is: insert card and enter PIN, select cash withdrawal transaction, cash withdrawal approved from Canada, enter PIN again to confirm and receive cash. But in many cases they are on unreliable networks, and the ATM's connection can fail at the last stage, after the cash withdrawal transaction has been approved and before the cash is issued. You are faced with a machine that says something like "Network error" and shuts down for an unknown length of time, no transaction receipt or cash, and when you check your Canadian account, the cash withdrawal transaction has gone through. The staff at the bank or store where the ATM is located don't know anything about it, it's all remote, and there is no contact number posted. Try arguing that one from Canada when you get home! You'll be lucky if it doesn't take months, and dealing with an initial denial by the ATM operator in the other country.
Deal Addict
Sep 14, 2012
1159 posts
752 upvotes
Montreal, QC
lachdanan wrote: I did some calculation it seems about the same price 35 cad more then Google rate.
You will not find any place (except perhaps a friend or family member who might want to convert the cash) which will give you the Google rate for any currency conversion. Most, if not all businesses will charge a commission or fee to convert.
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 22, 2012
895 posts
75 upvotes
MONTR
wysiwyg wrote: The wiki in the Stack thread (in the credit card sub forum) has a list of Banks by country where there are no fees. Worth checking out.
Also, while the discussion here is for ATM, be careful when paying in stores where retailers are forcing conversion by accepting it on your behalf. Be sure to watch the pin pad and don’t let them press anything without your acknowledgment. Best is to always hold on to your card, insert it in the pin pad and control everything yourself when it comes to accepting all messages.
Thankfully I only see them press 1 for the local currency but sometimes ask which one, but never saw them press my own currency but I might be lucky. I would pay more attention if it's a big purchase though.
Scote64 wrote: Useful information, thanks. Foreign exchange and fees with credit cards used in other countries is an ever-evolving scam, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest tricks in each country without stumbling into them unknowingly for the first time.

The other issue that has come up for me a few times is the countries where the ATM sequence of operation is: insert card and enter PIN, select cash withdrawal transaction, cash withdrawal approved from Canada, enter PIN again to confirm and receive cash. But in many cases they are on unreliable networks, and the ATM's connection can fail at the last stage, after the cash withdrawal transaction has been approved and before the cash is issued. You are faced with a machine that says something like "Network error" and shuts down for an unknown length of time, no transaction receipt or cash, and when you check your Canadian account, the cash withdrawal transaction has gone through. The staff at the bank or store where the ATM is located don't know anything about it, it's all remote, and there is no contact number posted. Try arguing that one from Canada when you get home! You'll be lucky if it doesn't take months, and dealing with an initial denial by the ATM operator in the other country.
I heard something like this and read you can only argue if you have the receipt or something but then also read getting the receipt costs money, etc.

I even heard on the opposite end, people inserting/swapping paper in place of the cash and the ATM "thinks" you didn't take the money after a certain period and proceeds to pull the "cash" in and crediting your account. But not sure if it's BS.
Deal Addict
Jan 21, 2018
4134 posts
4239 upvotes
Vancouver
lachdanan wrote: I heard something like this and read you can only argue if you have the receipt or something but then also read getting the receipt costs money, etc.
The first time it happened to me that a foreign bank ATM shut down with a network error before handing out the cash, it did not give me a receipt. The money came out of my BMO account in Canada. I reported it to BMO, they gave me an immediate refund. And then it took over 4 months to get it finally sorted out with the bank in the other country, including 2 months to get back the initial response that their central banking records showed that the cash withdrawal transaction took place. I'm not sure BMO ever got it sorted out with them - they might just have decided to take my word for it.

The second time it happened, the money was coming out of my TD account in Canada, and TD did not give me an immediate refund. However I felt a bit more confident about it because the machine did print a receipt that ended with "Network Error" (not in English though, so I had to translate it for TD), and I took a photo of the ATM display showing Network Error at the time. That still took 2 months to get a refund.

You have to wonder about the idiotic design of some of these ATM networks though, when a transaction can be posted even though the ATM itself knows that it didn't issue the cash. And then doesn't tell the bank when it comes back on online? And the bank doesn't bother investigating when the ATM cash total is off and someone complains about the problem?
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 2, 2002
1792 posts
574 upvotes
Toronto
It happened to me in Taiwan. Get off the plane and hit the first ATM (Postal bank, I think) I find in the arrivals area. insert my Stack card, do all the regular stuff (Pin, amount, etc.) and then some error is displayed rather than handing cash. I was worried I was hit with the amount and didn't get the cash. Stack shows the balance in real time and no money was ever deducted from my account. I found another ATM and was successful.
Celebrating 18+ years on RFD!
Deal Addict
Sep 11, 2006
1734 posts
537 upvotes
I wish we had something like Schwab Checking here in Canada, it lets you pull money for free in overseas ATM charges reimbursed.
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 22, 2012
895 posts
75 upvotes
MONTR
Today I did everything the best as I could.

Yellow ATM, max withdrawal, no dynamic conversion but the difference was still about 1000 THB (42 CAD). I remember seeing the ATM showed 5% conversion rate, so I guess in this case it didn't make a difference?

When I use Stack, that 1000 THB conversion will be 0 right? Do you still need to choose No for dynamic conversion or it doesn't matter for Stack? Because for sure some ATMs just go ahead and do DC.
Member
Apr 16, 2020
250 posts
318 upvotes
lachdanan wrote: Today I did everything the best as I could.

Yellow ATM, max withdrawal, no dynamic conversion but the difference was still about 1000 THB (42 CAD). I remember seeing the ATM showed 5% conversion rate, so I guess in this case it didn't make a difference?

When I use Stack, that 1000 THB conversion will be 0 right? Do you still need to choose No for dynamic conversion or it doesn't matter for Stack? Because for sure some ATMs just go ahead and do DC.
Dynamic conversion is just the ATM owner's way of making money. Don't do it.

Top