Save money internationally with the Global ATM Alliance


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I hate ATM fees.  It is less a concern over the money and more a matter of principle.  ATM fees are especially prevalent and can be very high when traveling abroad.  Even with a no international transaction fee credit card, I find inherit risk in using my credit card abroad in certain situations.  As a result, I will often forgo the points and use cash abroad where it makes sense.

The Global ATM Alliance

The Global ATM Alliance is a great friend for obtaining cash abroad and avoiding those nasty ATM fees.  As a Bank of America debit card holder, I have access to each of the Alliance member bank’s ATM network in the country listed below with absolutely no fees.

The following banks are members of the Global ATM Alliance.

  • Bank of America (United States)
  • Barclays (United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, Pakistan, Gibraltar, Ghana, Kenya, and other countries in Africa)
  • BNP Paribas (France)
  • Deutsche Bank (Germany, Poland, Belgium, India, Spain, Portugal and Italy)
  • Scotiabank (Canada, Caribbean, Peru, Chile and Mexico)
  • Westpac(Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands)
    • Westpac Banking Corporation (Australia, Fiji, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu)
    • Westpac New Zealand Limited (New Zealand)
    • Westpac Bank – PNG – Limited (Papua New Guinea)
    • Westpac Bank Samoa Limited (Samoa)
    • Westpac Bank of Tonga (Tonga)
  • ABSA (South Africa)
  • UkrSibbank (Ukraine)

I don’t see a formal Global ATM Alliance website but wikipedia does a good a job here explaining all the terms and conditions.  This is valid only for the country listed, so for instance, you would be charged no fee for using a BNP Paribas ATM in France but you would be charged for using one of their ATM’s in Belgium.

In the last two years, I can confirm using my Bank of America debit card at alliance banks in Canada (ScotiaBank), South Africa (ABSA), and Germany (Deutsche Bank).  When traveling with friends or family, I always offer to take out all the cash for the group so I can spare them those extra fees.  Being an over-analyst, I calculated all transactions and found I was always charged the daily exchange rate and no additional fees.  I will definitely be using my Bank of America  debit card for upcoming trips to Chile and Peru.

The Bottom Line

Next time you are traveling internationally with someone who has access to a Bank of America (or other Global ATM Alliance Bank) debit card, be sure to check out the Global ATM Alliance to see if you and your travel group could be saving some extra money!

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. Love the post… this was something I didn’t know and will have to keep in mind for my next international trip!

  2. One thing to note is that the free ATM does not apply to Barclays worldwide, as I found out after using Barclays in Russia for a few weeks. So, while free in the countries listed, it is not for other countries that have branches of Barclays.

  3. I use to have a B of A card just for this, but then I discovered Charles Schwab free checking. No transaction fees and no atms fees worldwide. Can’t beat it!

  4. I also used the BoA card for a few trips, but they hit you with the exchange rate fees… I switched to a Fidelity SmartCash account, no ATM fees anywhere, and no ForEx fees – I just pay the actual exchange rate the day of the withdraw.

  5. @ Parag +1 – have had the Schwab ATM card for years now, and it is a great traveling tool. They refund any ATM fees back into my account from any bank ATM it works at, which has been everyone I have tried. One other huge plus… Some ATMs can be in sketchy locations, or in poorly lit (and easily manipulated) settings – being able to walk down the street to the next bank and not having to worry whose ATM it is – really really nice.

  6. I have used CapitalOne bank, no exchanged fee, atm fee reimbursed up to $15/month and CapitalOne miles for every transactions.

    Great post, other bloggers have ignored this type of info.

  7. Note, Bank of America still rips you off with a 1% foreign transaction fee on withdrawals from within the Global ATM alliance. Many other banks (like Capital One) don’t.

    from the BofA website:

    “In addition, an International Transaction Fee may be charged for ATM card and debit card transactions made for ATM cash withdrawals in currency other than U.S. dollars, regardless. The International Transaction Fee will be 1% of the U.S. dollar amount for each converted ATM cash withdrawal. This International Transaction Fee will appear as a separate item on your banking statement for each international transaction.”

    Best source for all of this info is:
    http://www.flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php/Credit/Debit/ATM_Cards_and_Foreign_Exchange

  8. @Steelsnow – You make an excellent point regarding safety. Safety is most certainly an issue in some locations. I had first hand experience with this in Johannesburg which I will discuss in an upcoming trip report.

  9. @Nate – As mentioned above, each of my 10+ transactions over the last 2 years were scrutinized and no 1% fee was charged. BOA uses the ambiguous term ‘may’ in the details which could mean a lot of different things.

  10. @David

    China Construction Bank is also part of the aliance. It is everywhere in China, from big cities to small villages. I personally have used BOA debit cards to withdraw cash from Scotia Bank and China Construction Bank and there is no separate 1% fee. Also the exchange rate is the daily publish rate, so I don’t think the 1% fee is hiden in there.

  11. @Peter S (& David):
    China Construction Bank is no longer part of the alliance. This happened when BofA sold their stake in CCB after the recent economic/banking crisis.

    FOR EVERYONE: We just had a problem last month using our BofA card to withdraw from Barclays in the UK. We took out money at one Barclays ATM with no fee. Then the next Barclays ATM we used, BofA charged us their normal fees (1% + $5). We called in, they couldn’t say what the problem was, but refunded the fee and said it shouldn’t happen again. But it did happen again, twice more, at different Barclays ATMs in the UK. Again BofA refunded the money after a phone call but could not say what went wrong. So now we have lost all confidence that our card will not be charged fees in the future without intervention by us to get refunds (what a pain). Maybe it’s just our card, but want to make people aware nonetheless. Most likely, we are going to switch to Capital One for our upcoming international travel needs.

  12. Eric – I can confirm I was not charged by ABSA for an ATM withdrawal though I was in South Africa in February 2011 so things may have changed.

  13. I got a question since I got the same problem at the moment. Have money in my Bank of America account and want to withdrawal it in Germany with Deutsche Bank.
    My question now is, does Deutsche Bank charge you a fee when you have an Bank of America debit card WITH the Visa logo on it or is it free of charges too?
    -Thanks

  14. thanks so much. As a BOA customer living Kenya, I knew that I could use my card at Barclays, but will be visiting South Africa soon and needed to know if there was a Global Alliance bank there. Yours was the first website (after a long search) that had the information I needed.

  15. there is also confusion re is this applicable to a BOA ATM card (ATM only, no Visa or Mastercard logo) or a DEBIT card (which always has a Visa or Mastercard logo). I understand that the 1% fee might apply to the debit card, but NEVER applies to the simple ATM card…
    anyone?

  16. I was recently informed that Deutsche bank is nor longer part of the B of A global alliance. Is that true?

  17. Hi,
    This week, my mom has been charged each of the 3 times she has withdrawn funds using her Bank of America (BofA) debit card in Kenya. This has never been the case in the past and I have not seen any newletters, memos, notifications regarding this change and no one can tell me of this change. Why we have not been charged in the past and why we are been charged now.

    Thanks

  18. I’ve lived in Australia for the past two years and have never been charged a fee getting money out of the ATM from Westpac. They sent me a message after I asked why this charge was on my account, their response was “as of Nov 8, 2013 they charge a 3% ATM charge on all ATM withdrawals no matter where in the world you are”. Even in the USA….I’m finding a different bank! I’m very angry at BofA. Any suggestions on a bank in the US I can use for my income from the states?

  19. I just got hit for the first time using my BANK OF AMERICA card using an alliance Bank in France. This is the first time this has happened. I was charged a 1% fee on transactions. I have used this card and never has this occurred in all my time in france. It just showed up on November statement. Not sure what happened.

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