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I'm contemplating getting a virtual credit card from a provider with more competitive exchange rates & fees for visiting the UK. The provider does support the popular smartphone payment apps, so it's possible to pay in (some) stores.

Can I withdraw GBP from a UK ATM this way, or do I need a physical card to withdraw money from an ATM?


In case it's relevant, the specific providers I have in mind are Revolut and Google Pay, but I'll be happy with any answer that says "it only works if you use so-and-so provider instead of those two".

  • 1
    It's funny that whilst reading the question I was going to make an answer about registering with Revolut to get their physical card, then topping up with your virtual card and using the physical one at the ATM. But once I read the whole message, it seems the virtual card itself you're using is Revolut's! Huh! In my day the virtual cards used to be something you would buy on a dodgy website which you could then either gift to people or use them yourself (for cases when your bank card didn't have online payment capabilities and you could get a virtual one using another payment method). – kiradotee Oct 8 at 21:05
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    @kiradotee :) I am looking into pure virtual cards because for the next couple weeks I change addresses too often to risk having a physical card shipped. – Peter Oct 8 at 23:40
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    Yes. I live in the UK and have a Revolut card which I use with no problem at all. – terdon Oct 9 at 9:46
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    @terdon A physical Revolut card, yes, but you can't use a virtual Revolut card in an ATM. – Andy Hames Oct 9 at 15:13
11

There are a few banks that allow you to withdraw from their own ATMs without a card (usually as an "emergency withdrawal service", with a code you get via telephone banking), but other than that, as far as I am aware, you most definitely need a physical card to withdraw from an ATM.

You may want to check out Transferwise. They can provide a real Mastercard that you can use in store and in ATMs, which is backed by their "borderless" account with competitive fees in many situations (though ATM withdrawals are free only up to £200 per month).

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    There are contactless cash machines but you need to have a current account with that bank and be using the card they issued/their smartphone app. e.g. Barclays barclays.co.uk/ways-to-bank/contactless-cash – BritishSam Oct 8 at 11:50
  • Accepting this answer because it answers the primary question, while Uciebila's answer adds a highly relevant partial workaround. – Peter Oct 8 at 23:36
  • There are an increasing number of banks that are offering cardless withdrawals from their ATMs as a normal service rather, than as an emergency withdrawal service. – Mick Oct 9 at 7:18
28

Alternatively to an ATM, you can ask for cashback in stores.

The way this works is that after scanning your items, you can ask the person at the till for cashback of X amount (normally smaller amounts work better as they might not have enough in the tills/the app of your choice might have a cap), they then add that to the purchase amount, charge the contactless payment (in this case Google Pay as you mentioned), and give you the money from the till.

I've done this many times before with Google and Samsung Pay without an issue, no physical card needed. The easiest place to do this is at chain stores such as Tesco, Lidl, Morrisons etc as they are very used to it and the large ones are open 24 hours a day.

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    @MJeffryes You can pay with any card loaded onto Samsung or Google pay, so you don't need a physical card at all for the process, and Google Pay is what the OP has in mind it seems, I'll edit to make this clearer! – Uciebila Oct 8 at 12:27
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    Ok, I was under the impression that you can't get cashback with contactless, but I guess it depends on the card terminal and shop. Personally I wouldn't rely on it, but it's good to know. – MJeffryes Oct 8 at 12:32
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    +1 I do this in Tesco all the time, though have only tried with £10 or £20 so unsure how the larger amounts fair. – jack bauers Oct 8 at 13:19
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    In store cashback is only available with a debit card, not a credit card. – uɐɪ Oct 9 at 7:09
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    @Chris there's no limit for contactless using Apple Pay or Google Pay (because your transaction is protected by fingerprint/face unlock/PIN or password). You can spend £500 by taping your phone. – kiradotee Oct 9 at 14:50
2

While the accepted answer is correct (I use a TransferWise card), the user specifically mentioned Revolut. Revolut provides a debit Mastercard (just like TransferWise) and I have used it across the EU (and in the UK...).

TransferWise may be available to users from more countries. My wife (Canadian, non-UK-resident) is not permitted a UK card, and uses my Revolut at UK ATMs, but she has a TransferWise account (I don't know if she could get a TransferWise debit card).

My favourite is Curve, because it charges back to a credit card, and I switch between my UK MasterCard and my Canadian Visa, depending where I am; and I never have to load it up like Revolut or TransferWise. The downside is that I know you can't get one of those if you are not a resident of the EEA.

2

I just noticed today that a self-service checkout in a Swedish supermarket, where you can pay with either card or cash, now had the option to withdraw money from it.

It's the first time I've ever seen it and I guess these could be found in the UK, maybe now maybe later. I know Tesco have self service machines that handle cash.

So if you are like me, living without a wallet, then those are a good and speedy option.

If you can't find any machines like these then your only options are to ask cashiers for a withdrawal, or to send money to someone you trust and ask them to withdraw it.

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    I've seen a few in the UK but it really depends on the type of store/branch/location as more often than not getting cashback from self service isn't widely available – Uciebila Oct 15 at 11:08

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