Debit cards are apparently the way to go when traveling in Europe these days as they exchange rates from the bank appear to be unbeatable. My only problem is trying to figure out which Canadian bank has the least fees when you use your card abroad. Besides an ATM network access fee at the machine the bank will also charge one on their end. I have heard that some banks even charge a certain percentage for currency conversion. HSBC seemed to be a good idea as they are a global bank with many locations worldwide and if you use one of their ATMs there are absolutely no fees (and only a $3 fee for non HSBC ATMs). But they appear to have little or no representation in Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands (to name just a few places). ScotiaBank has an agreement with the Global Alliance which covers banks in Germany, France, UK, and some of Spain but they charge $5 for non Global Alliance ATM use. If you have a TD select account than all PLUS system fees are waived on their end but you will always be paying the local machine fee and the account is $24 a month.
These are just a few ideas but none compare to something like the Nationwide flex account which is only available in the UK but has absolutely no fees for using any ATMs. There are a lot of posts about this from American travelers who seem to have many options but unfortunately the info is fairly sparse for us Canadians. It just seems that we are gouged with service fees and have very little to choose from.
Anyone have any ideas?
Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:36 am
I can't really speak for exchange rates and such, however I know alot of americans and canadians have encountered problems using their debit card in the UK. This is mostly due to the fact that the uk is largely switching over to chip and pin cards, and not all atms can accept cards that do not have a chip.
One of my friends got her card stuck in a machine and had to wait until the security personal came to empty / restock the machine in order to get it back.
The Bank in the UK which seems to be consistently 'foreign' atm card friendly is Abbey.
I've used both my UK atm cards and Canadian Atm cards in France and Italy as with no problems as long as I was using an atm which had one of the logos on the back of the card on it.
I use RBC in canada, and have found the rates are pretty good. I think there is a $5 per transaction fee but I've never noticed it.
Hope that helps.
Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:37 am
Oh and there is no fee for accessing a bank other than your own at an ATM in the UK that is no fee other than what your home bank charges.
Joined: 4 Mar 2003
Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:53 am
I'd be interested in hearing others' experience with this as well. I use CIBC and its ridiculous how expensive it is for international withdrawls. I think it's at least $5 every time.
Its no different than the outrageous cost of cell phone fees - Not enough competition!
Joined: 10 Apr 2006
Sat Mar 08, 2008 9:27 pm
I used BMO and i got hit pretty hard with transaction fee's as well. If your traveling in countries that use Euro, might as well just pull out a lot of cash, tuck it away somewhere on you and not get pinged for every transaction. By the end of my trip i think i had like $200 in charges just from transactions in a 2 month period. It adds up.