ATMs & Card Machines abroad: The Golden Rule

Travel September 7, 2016


When an ATM or card machine asks if you’d like to accept an exchange, there’s only one right answer… always say no. Always refuse any conversion, always choose the local currency for the country you’re in. 

Just say no way, José.

But it’s still so easy to be duped.  Here’s why, and how to avoid it once and for all. 

Foreign ATMs and card machines often say nice things like: “Would you like to fix the exchange rate?” Or, “This ATM offers conversion to your home currency”. Sometimes, there isn’t even a question on the screen at all – just an exchange rate, a familiar looking amount in GBP and the options “Yes” or “No” .

On the surface, it looks friendly enough. Like you’ll know exactly what you’re paying, and in a currency you’re way more familiar with.

But, in reality, paying in your home currency – or even just accidentally saying “Yes” to a rate – is a hidden fee horror.

This is a service known as Dynamic Currency Conversion, or DCC for short. It effectively means you are accepting an exchange offered by the machine. And it is always, always a bad one, adding up to 6% on to the cost of your transaction.

So, now that you know the golden rule, DCC should be easy to avoid, right?

Not exactly. The thing is, it’s not always clear exactly what the machine is saying, so it’s very easy to fall into the trap. Here are some examples. Can you guess what you need to say?


ATM machine in Lyon, France.

ATM Machine Example One

Answer: Select ‘DEBIT IN EUR’, as this is the local currency. Choosing DEBIT IN GBP would mean accepting their exchange rate.

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ATM Machine in Amsterdam, Holland.

Slack for iOS Upload

Answer: Select NO. You don’t want to accept this rate.

And the worst one of all, the easiest trap to accidentally fall into …

Portable card terminal in San Francisco, USA.


Answer: Select NO


See how easy it would be to exchange money that you have already exchanged?

Ignore the offer and pay in the local currency. With a WeSwap card, you’ve already got the best rates on the market, so don’t spoil it by letting the machine do the exchange.

Words by WeSwap, the clever new way to get travel money that’s up to 10 times cheaper than banks, bureaux or airports. Get your free card today


M Reed

16 September 2016

although obvious to frequent users this was a really useful reminder to us less privileged and infrequent travellers!! Thanks M

John Grant

16 September 2016

My experience in Gran Canaria: all ATM's charge a fee to withdraw cash. So pay for services (supermarket, restaurant etc) with the Weswap card. Draw out a smaller amount of cash for tips, taxis, ice creams etc in one go as you get charged each time you withdraw cash. If your wallet won't update, log out then login again. Sorted!

Colin Holbrook

07 February 2017

Although the Weswap rules say that the maximum amount you can withdraw is 400, I have often withdrawn more than that. It is always better to withdraw big amounts just in case you do get one off charges as others have noticed


07 February 2017

weird - I've never been charged at an ATM in Gran Canaria and I've been going there for years!


09 February 2017

Hi John, yeah, not all ATMs offer Dynamic Currency Conversion but quite a few do! It's strange you have avoided them for so long!

Fiona Gilson

17 September 2016

We have had this for a fortnight when using our card in restaurants in Spain. After the first time we were aware of what was happening and could guide the waiter. The difficulty was that often the offer of GBP or EUR was red or green ie. the GBP was green and the EUR option red. I think the waiter or cashier who was handling the transaction chose the green button because it appeared to be the 'right ' one. Luckily the transaction was then rejected. This then enabled us to try again but it was impossible for us to explain in Spanish so we had to use a lot of gestures and keep hold of the terminal after having entered the Pin.

T J Parrott

19 September 2016

A simple rule and thanks, because it is easy to press the wrong button. Little snipits of info like this Instills confidence


07 February 2017

Agree - useful reminder. I missed out a couple of times on last trip and was very annoyed to find out after the event that I had been charged in GBP. Perhaps the moral is to get those reading glasses out when wearing my contacts for skiing!


07 February 2017

CARD TERMINAL in Spain Pity you didn’t show an image of a card terminal in Spain; because it will all be in Spanish and unless you are fluent in written Spanish you probably won’t have a clue, and you’ll have to trust the seller to make the transaction in Eu. I have sometimes found upon returning to the UK they have not heeded my request (is it they get a small commission from this) Either way once your back home it’s too late to do anything about it then!


07 February 2017

This is a great help, I was 70%-30% in favour as to change in the local currency, now I'm 100%. Cheer's !!!!!!


07 February 2017

Bit confused by comment from M Reed. I have had a we swap card for a while and used it abroad for paying in restaurants etc but not yet taken out money from a bank. Should we be charged a fee for taking out euros when the card is loaded in Euros ?? Or should it be free assuming you select the correct option.

John G

07 February 2017

I'm was constantly perplexed by the choices on cash machines in America.... Am I withdrawing money on my WeSwap card from savings or checking?

Bryan Goodwin

07 February 2017

Recently in New Zealand, best to use ASB Bank for cash, as they do it for FREE whilst Kiwi Banks like ANZ will charge you $3 per withdrawal


09 February 2017

Cracking knowledge Bryan - thanks for sharing. so ASB Banks for free cash everyone.


08 February 2017

Also remember not to draw small amounts of cash from an ATM. Cash withdrawals are only free using a WESWAP card in an ATM machine if you draw more than£200 or an equivalent amount in foreign currency.


09 February 2017

Hi James. Yes, to save even more money - withdraw over £200. Or pay on card which is always free. Thanks


08 February 2017

Can I use this card to purchase from Singapore it's possible plz let me know


09 February 2017

You sure can. We deal in 18 currencies and Singapore dollars is one of them!

Jackie Ryan

08 February 2017

Great informative information, ATM machines same in New Zealand, chose local currency,


09 February 2017

Thank you Jackie! Yep, this simple rule will save you money all over the world.

W E Lilley

08 February 2017

I have just returned from South Africa and I found that I was charged 50 Rand per transaction at all the ATMs until the last week I used Nedbank and there was no charge.


09 February 2017

There are a lot of ATMs out there that will charge regardless, just like the US. It's good to know so you can utilise when machines are free. The WeSwap Mastercard will be accepted everywhere that accepts Mastercard.

Graham Smith

08 February 2017

Recently in South Africa three options for charging presented - be careful which you choose - the fees vary from bank to bank and the maximum I was allowed was 3000 rand although I had almost 6000 rand in my we swap account


09 February 2017

Thanks for this Graham. Yes, ATM restrictions can differ from machine to machine but it's always important to take your time and if using WeSwap pay in the home currency. Frustrating about the limit but at least you avoided getting stung with extra charges.

Mike Barter

16 March 2017

What about ATM charges in USA


21 March 2017

Hi Mike, one of these examples is in the US. Always select to pay in the local currency. Basically, pay with a card that has USD on it and you won't need to convert.

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