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When withdrawing money from a Japan Post ATM using a card (which can act as either a credit card and or an ATM card) from Westpac, the withdrawal is from my credit card account, and I get charged a "cash advance fee"

131313   CASH ADVANCE                              1000.00
         xxxxxx/JAPANPOST BANK( TOKYO JP
         xxx,xxx JPY
              xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

131313   FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE                     30.00


131313   CASH ADVANCE FEE - ATM                      20.00

What's meant by "Cash advance fee - ATM"? Is it a fee charged by the ATM I'm withdrawing from? How can I minimize it?

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Are you asking specifically for Japan? The rules and Fees vary from ATM to ATM and country to country.... –  Karlson May 21 '13 at 13:35
    
Are you withdrawing on a Credit or Debit card? –  Gagravarr May 21 '13 at 15:21
3  
It is common to have the cash advance fee when you withdraw from a credit card whether it is from local or international ATM machine.. –  MeNoTalk May 21 '13 at 16:05
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The cash advance fee is charged by your credit-card company and is part of your contract with them.

To minimize the cash advance fee, do not take cash advances. You can do this by adding money to your account so that the credit-card owes you money. In this case you will be charged a transaction fee which is usually smaller, since you are not borrowing any money.

The best way is to not use a credit card and use a bank card instead. Most bank cards are attached to either Cirrus or Plus network and it then becomes your job to seek out a compatible ATM or carry one of each. It is not as easy as to find a Mastercard or Visa-compatible one, but still quite common.

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It turns out that even though "Cash advance fee - ATM" has "ATM" in it, it doesn't mean that it's being charged by the ATM you're withdrawing from. It's still being charged by the bank of your home country.

And depending on your bank, that fee can be minimized by having a positive balance in your credit card account. This isn't just for cards specially marketed at globehoppers and globeshoppers (mentioned in an answer to a similar question), but even for ordinary credit cards:

Help minimise and avoid fees

An administrative charge of 2% of the value of the transaction will apply to each cash advance made on your card account, where your account has a negative (debit) balance after the transaction has been posted to it. A minimum charge of $2.50 and a maximum charge of $150 will apply in these circumstances. Where your account has a positive (credit) balance after the transaction has been posted to it, a charge of $2.50 will apply to the transaction. Any such charge will appear on your credit card statement directly below the relevant cash advance.

A $2.50 charge if your account is positive, versus $20 if the account is negative? That's a bit of a difference!

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A bit of a difference, yes! But not all that surprising... Taking money out on a credit card is rarely a sensible idea, except in certain special cases (eg cards which explicitly have very low fees, a card you've put into a positive balance etc) –  Gagravarr May 22 '13 at 15:59
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