From eXtreme hotel, Scotia Bank is in central Cabarete on the right.

From eXtreme hotel, Scotia Bank is in central Cabarete on the right.

Everyone wants to make the most of their time abroad, so to help you avoid wasting time worrying whether you have enough pesos in your pocket, I have put together a guide on international ATMs.

First, you must choose how you wish to carry your money. There are typically three options when it comes to traveling internationally:

1.   Bringing cash. It’s good to have some cash on hand when you first arrive, as you may have to pay for food, a taxi, etc. Though the exchange rates will not be the best, you can exchange money at your home bank or at the airport (exchange rates are usually better at the airport you fly into rather than out of) to hold you over.

2.   Bringing a check card. Be sure to notify your bank before traveling abroad, otherwise they may freeze your account when they see a foreign transaction (this is to protect you from identity theft). Also be aware of which international ATM you are using, avoid stand alone international ATMs and ones that are not bank-affiliated. To be safe, you can also check with your hotel for recommended ATMs in the area. As for transaction fees, it varies depending on the bank so be sure to read on and look for your bank’s fees as well as typical international ATM costs.

3.   Bringing a credit card. Credit card companies may charge currency conversion fees when you make a purchase (generally 1 percent from Visa or MasterCard plus an additional 1 – 2 percent), however these fees are typically lower than those you’d pay to convert your own currency at a change bureau. Keep in mind depending where you are going in the world, they may not have technology to swipe credit cards everywhere you’d like to buy something, so you may have to pay an international ATM transaction fee as well.

From eXtreme Hotel, Banco Popular is located in central Cabarete on the right.

From eXtreme Hotel, Banco Popular is located in central Cabarete on the right.

Guide to International ATMs Fees:

1.   Foreign ATM Fee – Most banks charge a flat fee of $2 – $5 each time you use your card at an international ATM to withdraw foreign currency. It is similar to the costs you incur when you use an ATM that is not affiliated with your bank. Keep in mind it is a flat fee, so it is best to withdraw larger sums of money at a time. For example, if you withdraw foreign currency worth $200 USD and your international fee is $5, you will be charged $205. If you withdraw $100 twice, you’ll pay $10 in fees.

2.   Foreign/International Transaction Fee – There is typically a 1% – 3% fee for using your debit card in a foreign currency. The fee is calculated as a percentage of the converted transaction amount and is essentially the same as a credit card foreign transaction fee.  For example, if you make a foreign purchase worth $50 USD, and your bank charges you a 3% fee, you will pay an additional $1.50 as a foreign transaction fee.

If you are in Cabarete, here at eXtreme hotel we recommend you go to either Banco Popular or Scotia Bank to withdraw money. You can find them on eXtreme Hotel’s map of recommended ATMs in Cabarete.

Photos and Guide to International ATMs by Lynsey Wyatt.