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Withdrawing money on the Camino, 2013

FooteK

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, SJPdP to SdC, mid May-late June (2013);
CF, Spring/Summer (2015)
I know this topic has been discussed before but not recently, as far as I can find. Sorry if it's a duplicate. I'm starting my Camino in May. What is the best way to get euros along the way?

1. I'm an American recently moved to Europe, so I don't have to worry about changing money at an airport and getting initial euros for my trip.

2. I don't have a European bank account. Should I try to open one up in Spain in order to have a local debit account? Can this be done before my trip begins?

3. My current U.S. credit cards charge foreign transaction fees. If I use one of them to withdraw money from an ATM along the way, I think I'd be charged a foreign transaction fee plus a cash advance fee. Am I correct? If so, it doesn't sound like something I want to do.

4. I don't believe there are any local credit unions available to me here (Germany).

5. Schwab has been mentioned on this forum as a decent place to get a debit card. But all I can find on their website calls for an initial deposit of $10,000. Am I looking at the wrong place?

6. Capital One has also been mentioned. But, although they don't charge foreign transaction fees (depending on what card you get) when used as a credit card, I would still be charged ATM fees from the local ATM and from Cap One plus fees if used for a cash advance (pulling euros as needed along the way), yes?

Sorry to go on for so long. Right now, everything else for the trip is falling into place nicely except for how to get cash along the way.
Oh, yeah, and I have to renew my passport :wink: Thanks in advance for your help.

Kathy
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
I used a New Zealand bank card in ATM machines. I used both my current account and my credit card accounts at different times. I had to pay a foreign ATM charge each time, and also a currency exchange fee. I never had to pay a cash advance fee on my credit card, as I had placed funds in the account before using it overseas. You would have to check whether your bank has different rules.
Margaret
 

Trudy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
It's my understanding that credit cards should only be used for large payments, but never used to get cash as daily interest is charged as soon as cash is withdrawn. The best way to get cash on the Camino is to use a Visa or Mastercard debit card, linked to a savings account, to withdraw cash at ATMs. When I'm in Europe I withdraw 200€ at a time, and on the Camino that should last a while. My bank charges ATM transaction fees as usual, but the European ATM does not. There is also a foreign exchange fee, but that is negligible.

Trudy
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Trudy said:
It's my understanding that credit cards should only be used for large payments, but never used to get cash as daily interest is charged as soon as cash is withdrawn. Trudy
It must depend on your bank. I never got a 'cash advance' as such from my credit card, as I kept money on the card- I was never in debit. It just gave me another option if anything happened to my current account card. There wasn't a good debit card option from my bank: when I explored fees etc, I was better off using my regular ATM card.
Margaret
 

oursonpolaire

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Many banks and credit unions which charge foreign exchange fees (usually 1.5%-2.5%) on top of the foreign exchange can and will waive them. They do not like doing this as it is a great revenue line for almost no effort and will usually, on first discussion, tell you that they are not able to do so. Your bank manager can usually arrange this. If this is too much trouble, a number of banks and credit card issuers (google on this) charge no foreign exchange fees, so just switch your card and let your bank know why.

The ATM fees, sadly, you are stuck with.

When I last walked the Francese, there was no ATM between Astorga and Ponferrada-- has this changed?
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
Note that you will need a four digit PIN for Spanish ATM's. Most banks issue a four digit PIN with their debit cards, but a friend with a credit union card had a six digit PIN. He was suddenly in Spain with no cell coverage, no money, and no way to get money! He then contacted his credit card company to get a PIN for cash advances. Since they only mail it to your home of record, he contacted his daughter by Facebook (remember, no cell service because he had no money for a SIM) to have her go by his house to check the mail. Once the new PIN arrived and she emailed the credit card PIN to me, he could get cash advances, which were very expensive, at least compared to ATM withdrawals. Only the airport exchange window is more than a credit card advance. Life regularly makes you pay for your mistakes. :D

Anyway, the real story is to have a four digit PIN. (And, yes, I bankrolled him for a week and a half!)
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
If you have a Visa card you pay ATM fees (I believe). If you have a Mastercard then you can check for 'fee free' ATMs on the Mastercard website. Other fees bank/commision will still apply..........
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
Kathy:

I suggest you open an account with Deutsche bank and get an atm card for that account. Deutsche bank has a presence in all the major cities Pamplona, Burgos, Leon etc., you can get a list from them.

I would start carrying 300-500 Euros, 200 in small bills. You can then replenish in the larger cities at the Deutsche bank atm at no charge. This is what my German friend did.

The Schwab debit card is great. No atm fees and a nominal currency exchange rate, less than 1%. You do not need $10K open. Just get a high interest savings account through them. I put in $2k. Do not believe there is a minimum.

That said,I think the Deutsche bank account is a better option.

Ultreya,
Joe
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
For those stuck in the USA, Bank of America has a new card which is nearly the Holy Grail.
It has a chip, and they claim it will work as a true chip and PIN as the European cards work, not chip and signature. No foreign transaction fees, no annual fee. I'm not sure about cash advances.

The chip is important. I have had several American magnetic strip cards eaten by Euro toll booths, or refused by restaurants, which could run them, but pretend they can't, so they can get tax free cash.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
J.P. Morgan has a Visa Signature card with a chip that does the same thing in regards to no Foreign currency transaction fees. These cards are great for hotels and restaurants. That said, they do not provide cost free atm service.
 

FooteK

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, SJPdP to SdC, mid May-late June (2013);
CF, Spring/Summer (2015)
I went to my local bank yesterday to ask about any "products" they have for people traveling outside of the country (it's a bank affiliated with Bank of America). I explained that I was concerned about foreign transaction fees and ATM fees. The customer service rep told me that my bank doesn't have anything that can help. She totaled up some numbers and told me that it could cost as much at $9 per transaction!! She suggested that I get a Cap One card and use it to charge everything. But I explained that I would be dealing almost exclusively in cash. She then said all she could suggest is walk around with all that cash! :cry: I'm going to see what else I can come up with. All the advice offered by my fellow forum members is VERY useful. I'll let you all know what I find. If anyone has other suggestions, I'm all ears :wink:
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
If anyone has other suggestions
Accept the fees! Minimize them by withdrawing the maximum each time. Spread the money around secure locations on your body and in your pack. Minimize fees with an account like a Charles Schwab if you can. But like most things on the Camino, acceptance is the bottom line. :D
 

ffp13

Addicted pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Completed Caminos: 2009 SJPP, 2011 Roncessvalle , 2012 Pamploma, 2013 Roncessvalle, 2013 Porto, 2014 Burgos, 2014 Porto

Future: Roncessvalle
On my last Camino I have used http://www.cashpassport.com/ it is a debit card that can be used on any ATM that accepts MasterCard the currency on the card can be set to were you are travelling, an you can put the money onto the card when the exchange rate for Euros is good. There is no international transaction fee when withdrawing. You get issued with two cards for the same account, should you loose one that can be cancelled and the spare used at any time. The card is valid for years an can be topped up using Internet banking, friends or family can easily put money on the card for you should it be required. I also have my normal bank access card should i need it, but this card is the cheapest way to access money in smaller transactions, and I found that it worked in almost all ATM s in Spain/ Europe
 

ffp13

Addicted pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Completed Caminos: 2009 SJPP, 2011 Roncessvalle , 2012 Pamploma, 2013 Roncessvalle, 2013 Porto, 2014 Burgos, 2014 Porto

Future: Roncessvalle
Accept the fees! Minimize them by withdrawing the maximum each time. Minimize them with an account like a Charles Schwab if you can. But like most things on the Camino, acceptance is the bottom line. :D[/quote]

A pickpockets perfect world
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
I checked on some of my activity last year.

Charle Schwab reimburses ATM fees internationally. I paid no fees in Italy, France and Mexico.

My Bank of America debit card charged no fees with "sister banks" such as BNP in France and Santander in Mexico. I paid about $7 to use it in another ATM in France.
 

FooteK

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, SJPdP to SdC, mid May-late June (2013);
CF, Spring/Summer (2015)
I have a German friend who is looking into my opening an account at Deutsche Bank in order to use ATMs along the Way. I've sent a message to Schwab about getting information but they haven't gotten back to me yet - but the information on their website sounds promising. I think I'm going to get a Cap One card just in case I need to charge items. I'm glad I'm thinking about this stuff now while I still have some time (twelve weeks, but who's counting??)

Next up, health insurance :shock:

Kathy
 

hueppi

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances May 2013
If you are based in Germany check out DKB
https://www.dkb.de/
This is said to have worldwide cash withdrawal at ATM without any fee.

Deutsche Bank tends to be expensive ....
 

ManyMiles2Go

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
ffp13 said:
On my last Camino I have used http://www.cashpassport.com/ it is a debit card that can be used on any ATM that accepts MasterCard the currency on the card can be set to were you are travelling, an you can put the money onto the card when the exchange rate for Euros is good. There is no international transaction fee when withdrawing. You get issued with two cards for the same account, should you loose one that can be cancelled and the spare used at any time. The card is valid for years an can be topped up using Internet banking, friends or family can easily put money on the card for you should it be required. I also have my normal bank access card should i need it, but this card is the cheapest way to access money in smaller transactions, and I found that it worked in almost all ATM s in Spain/ Europe
I thought this was a great idea!! Only problem is that they are no longer available. Not sure why, but all three places you could get these before are no longer issuing them :( I am still looking for an option similar to this one. If I find one, I will post it here :D
 

ManyMiles2Go

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
I went with the Schwab account. No fees!! Also is not connected to any other bank account I have, so only money in it will be for the Camino. No worries :shock:
 

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