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Having recently been caught out by most American ATMs charging extra fees on cash withdrawls on cards from different banks (which'll affect all foreign cards), I'm wondering if something similar will affect me up in Canada?

Specifically, do most Canadian ATMs charge extra fees on cash withdrawals on cards not from the ATM owning bank? And if so, are there any banks whose ATMs don't charge these fees, so I can try to use them when withdrawing on my (foreign) card to avoid the charges?

(Having gone to the trouble to find a card that won't itself charge me foreign fees and gives me a good exchange rate, I'm loathe to then have to pay a fee to the ATM operator if I can avoid it!)

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5 Answers 5

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I found it hard enough finding an ATM in Vancouver that would even ACCEPT my card (or my friend's). However, keep an eye out for HSBC ATMs, they seemed to be the ones guaranteed to take both my UK and New Zealand credit/debit cards.

Failing that, any 7-11 never failed to accept my cards. And yes, some do charge extra fees.

(This was last month - was in Vancouver around the beginning of October.)

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Yup, some ATMs here are only Visa, some only Mastercard, so I had to visit about 4 to find one that would take my card! On the plus side, it didn't seem to want to charge me fees either :) –  Gagravarr Nov 6 '11 at 18:43
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Check with your bank to be sure, but I would say Yes. I use the Bank of Nova Scotia, and since it's part of the Interac network, I can go to a CIBC or Bank of Montreal machine (or a white label machine in a convenience store) and get cash. The other bank tacks a service charge on which can be 1.50 or 2.00. I would think at a minimum you will be treated the same. This has nothing to do with currency conversion, just with using each other's machines.

However, ask your bank. When I went to Europe, BNS gave me a list of European banks whose machines would not put a service charge on me -- by using those machines, I avoided all kinds of charges. Of course, there were times when I just used the first machine I could find. Something similar may happen depending on where in Canada you're going - the reason I use CIBC machines sometimes is that there is one 20 minutes from my house, but the nearest BNS machine is more like 40 minutes away. Sometimes saving 20 minutes each way is worth $2.00 to me.

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Ask your American bank which ATMs you should use in Canada. For example, if you have a Bank of America account, then you can use ScotiaBank machines with no ATM fee since they are both members of the Global ATM Alliance (though the foreign currency fee still applies).

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That assumes you have an American bank, which I don't and certainly many others won't either... –  Gagravarr Nov 7 '11 at 21:29
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Royal bank of Canada ATM's don't have fee's (at least on Mastercards) plus they are the most common to find. There is one in every Farmaprix.

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You probably should just invest in a good international traveler's card, usually in the form of a credit card. If you absolutely have to get cash, do it before you arrive in the country you're going to be staying in, and get all of your money converted up front. You'll pay a premium for exchanging into the local currency, as they know you'll pretty much have to suck it up and fork over extra to use paper money during your stay. If you do it in a different country, however, you'll get a better rate.

As for ATMs, you should set up a distinct savings and checking account. Money transfers from savings to checking are not charged with a fee, and gives you an extra layer of protection if your card is lost or stolen (you should only have enough money on your bank card to get you through the day, and move money to it as you need it). So if someone does steal it, they'll get, at most, a hundred dollars ($50, if you're a broke traveler like myself). Plus, the currencies are converted digitally, so that you won't be charged a "conversion fee" for using, say, US dollars in Canada.

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I already have a card with excellent international exchange rates, and no overseas fees from the card issuer. The problem is finding a cash machine that won't itself charge me a bunch of fees! –  Gagravarr Nov 6 '11 at 18:42
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