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Debit Card And Atms In Portugal And Spain

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Amsky1, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. Amsky1

    Amsky1 New Member

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    Potential problem with debit card. I belong to a federal credit union - I work for a large medical institution in Baltimore. I have a debit card with them, and have been assured that this will work in Portugal and Spain ATM's. The front of the card has Visa logo and back of the card has the cirrus and Star logos. The problem is this - this card has no chip. It is a swipe only card. My friend today just told me that she can't use her credit union card anywhere overseas. Anyone have any info on this.
     
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  2. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    I almost had the same problem last year. What I did was i went to the bank and credit union and requested a chip type of card. One agreed the other didn't. But I only needed one to work.
     
  3. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Amsky - The debit card that I used just this past month in Spain and Portugal was not chipped. It had all the same features as yours, but it wasn't a credit union card. It worked fine at the ATMs. If it's a VISA card, I'm not sure why being issued by a credit union would matter. Contact your credit union and talk with them. I know that with my bank card, I have have to notify them that I'm going to use my card out of the country. Otherwise, after one transaction, it stops working.

    Probably none of us have the same system when it comes to how we carry money/cards when we travel. Here's what I do. I have a debit card exclusively for travel. It's tied to my account, but separate from my regular debit card. If I were to need more money on it, I could transfer money from one account to another online. I also carry two credit cards: VISA and AMEX. If for some reason my debit card wouldn't work, I have the other cards as backup for getting cash. I also have a couple hundred dollars on me as well as the same amount in Euro before leaving home. On the Camino, I'd carry enough Euro to cover me for about a week or so.

    The one thing that I did find in Spain regarding ATMs is that smaller, regional banks may not take US cards regardless of who issues it. However, in the larger towns or cities, you won't have any trouble finding a bank like Santandar for your transaction.

    Let us know what you find out from your credit union. Buen Camino!
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  4. jwmarshall

    jwmarshall New Member

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    Hope this helps. I am sure others can relate stories similar to this with their USA banks. I had a terrible problem with my Bank of America ATM card (Not Debit) a little over a year ago. I learned my lesson on this. It isn't the card, it is the support of your bank if there is a problem.

    Before leaving for Spain I called American Express (Costco Card), Capital One (Visa), and Bank of America (Visa and ATM) and told them about my trip (dates and countries - Spain and Portugal).

    All cards had chips. For some reason the American Express card and Bank of America credit cards did not work. The Capital One card worked so I was functional for charging.

    I had problems with the American Express card before so didn't pursue it in Spain. But I was not happy about the B of A Visa not working - oh well.

    The last card, the Capital One Visa worked for charging but not for withdrawals (I didn't ask Capital One for cash withdrawal privileges on this card for security reasons - cash withdrawals were to be for my ATM card).

    BUT the Bank of America ATM card would not work with withdrawals even with the help of a bank manager in Santiago. This was a real problem because this was to be my card for cash replenishment.

    I wasted more than 20 minutes on the phone at the hotel with B of A's help (less) line for international travelers. All I got was 'Please Hold', then transfers and two disconnects. They never got it fixed and for the few moments where they was a real person on the line they were totally clueless about how to solve the issue.

    With 6 euros left in my pocket, in desperation, I called Capital One's international help line. Within 30 seconds a real person answered. I explained the situation. They had me set up and completed the call in less than 7 minutes. I successfully withdrew 250 Euros 10 minutes later. AND the cost was the same as using the B of A ATM card.

    When I returned I wrote a detailed letter to Bank of America describing my experience. A two page reply arrived 4 weeks later that basically said that Bank of America valued all their customers and strove to provide great service - in other words ' go away'.

    Is there a lesson here? I think so. I think an international bank, not domiciled in the USA would be a better choice for most travelers.

    Or use Capital One, I do..
     
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  5. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey JW - Sounds like a terrible experience you had! It appears like it was really a problem with you BoA card and not necessarily because the card was "domiciled in the USA." I travel internationally three to four times a year and have never experienced this sort of problem. Although I have used VISA and AMEX cards for purchases (successfully), I exclusively use debit cards to access cash. It has never been a problem with my US based bank (I use Community Bank). The only difficulty I found in Spain and Portugal was trying to withdraw money from smaller regional banks. With the larger banks, like Santandar, it worked no differently than if I were withdrawing money in the States. Like others have commented on before, the only thing I do is to notify my bank that I'm traveling out of the country. Interestingly, AMEX told me it wasn't necessary to notify them. So, it strikes me that the problem was with BoA, but not with US banks in general. I know that many of us traveling utilize ATMs for cash. Your difficulties seem horrendous, but not typical.
     
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  6. jwmarshall

    jwmarshall New Member

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    Wily, I think you are correct, that the problem was with Bank of America - both with their back end money transfer systems and then with customer support. I failed to mention that I was able to call my wife in the USA who went to the local Bank of America branch to get it straightened out. The manager's response was that they were just a branch and could do nothing.
    Hopefully this not typical with other banks - it must not be or others would post about it.
    My note probably didn't emphasize enough that the support your Bank provides is really important.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
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