ATMs are getting trickier to use overseas, with some offering “dynamic currency conversion”—asking if you want the ATM to convert your dollars into local money, instead of letting your home bank do it. Agree, and you’ll get hit with a service fee, usually 2 to 3 percent. Some travelers in Europe have spotted sneaky tactics, like buttons that seem designed to confuse you into accepting and machines that ask repeatedly if you’re sure about your choice. Read each screen carefully before completing your transaction.
Also watch out for a double-whammy of fees from your home bank—some big banks charge 3 percent plus $5 for each international withdrawal. The ATM operator can tack on a fee, too. To avoid the extra costs, use in-network ATMs, if your bank has them. We’re not talking about the Plus or Cirrus networks, which just indicate whether your bank card will work at a particular machine. Bank of America customers get fee-free use of cash machines operated by its partners, including BNP Paribas in France and Deutsche Bank in Germany and Spain. Citi has its own branches in London, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Russia. Or, open an account with a bank that refunds ATM charges: credit union USAA, for instance, will give back $15 in fees each month.