Tips for Recognizing Deceptive ATMs Abroad

by SharonKurheg

When we travel internationally, we rarely use cash. There are very few places that are “cash only,” so we use credit cards for virtually all of our expenses, making sure that we use cards that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee.

However, many people, for whatever their reasons, still like to pay cash, and many get their cash from local ATMs.

Unfortunately, there are bunches of ATMs, especially in Europe, that are rigged to take advantage of international travelers. Watch this:

One of the comments to the video, by Alesha and Jarryd NOMADasaurus, was particularly disturbing:

Warning about this ATM – They even rip you off if you decline the conversion. We recently used one in Prague, and avoided the high withdrawal suggestions and sh***y currency conversion offer, instead choosing 2000 CZK and declining the currency conversion. However when we checked our bank statement afterwards, they charged us the equivalent of 2376 CZK! Our bank card has zero international fees, so Euronet still scammed us about 20%. Avoid at all costs.

Of course, the question about currency conversion is the same thing that happened to us when we were in England. We didn’t get a choice in that case and didn’t even notice it until later on. The frustrating part was that we knew better!

If you’re in a tourist area in Europe, you’re likely to see the Euronet ATM logo on almost every machine that’s not operated by a bank. They’re also one of the worst offenders of deceptive practices designed to take as much money as possible from unsuspecting tourists. But they must have noticed that people have caught onto the Dynamic Currency trick and are choosing to use the local currency. So they’ve found a new way to take a few extra dollars from every transaction.

But still…let this be a lesson for you! 😉

Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.

Want to sponsor a post, write something for Your Mileage May Vary, or put ads on our site? Click here for more info.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and sign up to get emailed notifications of when we post.

Whether you’ve read our articles before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


John W August 13, 2019 - 4:13 pm

Maybe I’m missing something here. As far as I know, there are three types of fees when withdrawing money overseas:
1. Foreign transaction fee.
2. Out of network fee (charged by your bank if withdrawing money from outside their own ATM/network).
3. Fee charged by the ATM owner (the local overseas ATM where you withdraw your money from).

So most of you probably know TD bank. I have a checking account with them and they:
1. Don’t charge foreign transaction fee.
2. No fee at any ATM, anywhere.
3. If the ATM owner charges a fee, TD bank will reimburse it at the end of your billing cycle.

The requirement for this type of checking account is to maintain daily balance of $2500. That’s it – no monthly admin fee. I’ve been using this for a couple years now and totally love it.



tri n August 13, 2019 - 4:46 pm

I think what you are missing is that the ATM is offering you a fixed (know up front) currency conversion rate. If you agree to this its not necessarily an additional fee. Its the rate you agree to… so why do they offer this? For the convenience of knowing how much USD you are pulling out right now (as if you were willing to pay up to know this). The FX fee you talked about earlier in No. 1 is for instance, the international rate is 1.15 EUR/USD… (8.70E per $10) Your no FX fee bank wont add 1-3% to 1.15 EUR/USD rate, however, if you agree to a fixed rate 1.20 EUR/USD (8.33E per $10). That’s not necessary a fee. You agreed to the FX rate. Its usually known as the DCC scam (dynamic currency conversion). Cabbies do this all the time… thinking they help you by telling you how much USD you are being charged. When in fact they just accepted a terrible FX rate for you. Usually I will pay cash for cabs.

Ken O. August 13, 2019 - 4:14 pm

Good advice as far as it goes, but remember there are still countries where you’ll want to use cash, either because credit card fraud is rampant or because U.S. banks won’t accept the transaction (I had to quickly round up some cash to pay a hotel bill in Azerbaijan when none of my credit cards would go through.

Fathiss August 13, 2019 - 6:13 pm

Foreign hotels do the same thing when they ask if you want to be charged in their currency or your currency. Always tell them to use their country’s currency. They also tack on inflated currency conversion costs if not.

turgutbey August 13, 2019 - 6:35 pm

I had read about euronet atm scam about a year ago. I was recently in Lisbon and wanted to get some cash before leaving the airport. The first ATM I found was a euronet and not remembering the specific name of the scamy ATMs I’d read about, i took out around the equivalent of $100. I declined the DCC option. But I still got a terrible conversion rate after declining the DCC. Luckily, I had a tickle in the back of my head that euronet was shady and googled it later and just went to standard bank ATMs for the rest of the trip.

Christian August 13, 2019 - 6:59 pm

Those blue and yellow ones in Europe will hose you big time. Avoid unless you’re truly desperate.

omatravel August 13, 2019 - 10:45 pm

I use my Fidelity Cash Management account to avoid fees and will only use a bank ATM for cash withdrawls which helps avoids the scams.

joeheg August 13, 2019 - 10:52 pm

That’s the same card we use for ATM’s worldwide. I love not having to worry about where I can withdraw cash. The only place I’ve had problems was Japan where not all ATM’s take foreign cards.


Leave a Comment