By Gunnar Niemi
This item appears on page 24 of the November 2015 issue.

I was at the Frankfurt Airport in Germany on June 17, 2015, and needed euros. 

Ordinarily, I use a Charles Schwab debit card at foreign ATMs, since Schwab reimburses ATM fees charged at any bank, but when I saw a Deutsche Bank ATM, I decided to withdraw 200 from it with my backup Bank of America (BofA) debit card, since Deutsche Bank is part of BofA’s Global ATM Alliance (which means no ATM fees charged to cardholders using ATMs of those banks).

After I returned home, my account showed a debit of $226.62, which seemed right, considering the exchange rate, but there was a second debit of $6.80.

I was going to question BofA about this, but first I Googled “ATM and ATM fee FAQs — Bank of America.” Scrolling down to “What is the Global ATM Alliance?,” I read that there were, indeed, no ATM fees but that “An international transaction fee of 3% will apply when converting your currency.”

I don’t know if this 3% fee is new or if I’m just the last person to find out about it. Unless it was hidden, I didn’t pay this fee when I used my BofA card at Scotiabank in Canada a few years ago. In any case, my BofA debit card will now be staying home.


Emeryville, CA

ITN emailed Bank of America with questions about Mr. Niemi’s letter and was sent the following response.

Bank of America began charging the foreign transaction fee (FTF) two years ago, and customers were notified in advance. We continue to waive the $5 non-Bank of America ATM fee when customers use their cards at Global ATM Alliance-member ATMs. 

BETTY REISS, Bank of America Corporation