I'm currently traveling in Germany. My card company requires fees by 1% from anything I spend with this VISA debit card. Is this also applied when I withdraw some money in ATMs? I've just checked my account for withdrawn money from subway ATMs, and their fee were 2.45% ~ 2.5%. What happened here?

How can I withdraw my money with a VISA debit card with lower fees in Germany?

  • That's rough. Whenever I need cash here in 'The States' I simply go to a mini-mart and get 40usd change when I buy a 0.25usd piece of candy. – easymoden00b Dec 10 '14 at 21:25
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    Every card is different, depending on the bank, type and policy. Have you read your policy document or spoken with the card provider? That's probably your best course of action. – Mark Mayo Dec 10 '14 at 23:03
  • Per @MarkMayo, it's down to the issuer. There are ways to hedge the exchange rates, but not the fees. – Gayot Fow Dec 10 '14 at 23:10
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    Why are you asking us about your bank's policies? How do we know? You haven't even told us what bank you use. – Flimzy Dec 11 '14 at 3:26
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    I wish you luck, but 2.5% is actually low for Germany, you should be happy it wasn't 5% or more. – Danubian Sailor Dec 11 '14 at 8:30

As a general rule, the cheapest way to get cash is through the ATM, but the cheapest way to spend money is directly at the point of sale device. You should also withdraw the maximum you need (or are allowed) at each ATM transaction to save on transaction and withdrawal fees.

Depending on multiple factors (type of account, type of card, the bank in Germany whose ATM you are using, if you are going across the debit or credit network, the type of transaction (CHIP+PIN), PIN-only and many more) there are extra fees added to the transaction.

You may be able to withdraw money cheaply by using a different card, or transferring money to yourself (via Western Union or similar) using your bank's website. Depending again on your account type and your bank's policies, it may end up being cheaper.

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  • With domestic card, yes, but if you pay with foreign card, you can be charged anyway by your bank etc. In Germany, paying with debit card anywhere is generally not an option, non-domestic cards are accepted almost nowhere. – Danubian Sailor Dec 11 '14 at 8:31
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    Non-domestic debit cards with a 16-digit number (e.g., a Visa Debit card from the UK) should be accepted everywhere they accept credit cards, though. – DCTLib Dec 11 '14 at 9:02
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    By withdrawing the maximum amount you need you save only on the fixed-amount fees (if any) and not on the percentage-based ones. – JoErNanO Dec 11 '14 at 9:21

The ATMs of pretty much all major banks state that for cash withdrawals from Visa or Mastercard cards, the issuing bank sets the fees. There will be no fee added on top by the bank operating the ATM. So if your card has a 16-digit number, this rule applies. The exception are cards using some system by Visa or Mastercard which does not have a 16 digit number (VPay, Maestro, ...)

Major banks in this context include, but are not limited to "Sparkasse", "Volksbank", "Sparda Bank", "Deutsche Bank", "Commerzbank". Every ATM with a logo of these banks should follows this rule, even if the ATM is located remote from a bank branch, e.g., at an airport. ATM providers such as "Travelex" may have different rules, and many people avoid these as these are an exception to the rule.

The sentence to look for on the sticker explaining the fees is "Visa/Mastercard: Ob und in welcher Höhe ..., erfragen sie bitte bei der kartenausgebenden Bank." - This means that your issuing bank sets the fees.

Depending on what bank issues your card, you may get a "fee rebate" at certain ATMs. For example, if you have a Bank of America Debit card, at "Deutsche Bank" ATMs, you only pay the fee that you would pay for using the card in a (foreign) shop.

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