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UPDATE: As of 2014, Bank of America now charges 3% on withdrawn cash using the Global ATM Alliance. So while you can still save the $5 fee for withdrawing cash abroad using a Global ATM Alliance machine, B of A now charges you 3% on withdrawn money, making what was once a welcome customer service yet another predatory practice that adversely punishes Americans traveling (or living) abroad by charging them unnecessarily to access their own money.
Savvy budget-conscious travelers know that bringing cash dollars to Paris is as last century as carrying travelers cheques, and would never think of trading in a pile of greenbacks at the currency exchange counter for a predatory rate.
But if you’re haven’t got one of the rare U.S. credit cards that doesn’t charge roughly 3% on top of purchases for foreign transactions, cash is still king when it comes to managing travel spending.
So how can you avoid the $5 international ATM fee that most banks charge to withdraw eurocash from your U.S. account while traveling in Paris?
Global ATM Alliance
If you are a Bank of America customer, use your debit card to withdraw money from any BNP Paribas ATM in Paris (look for the bright green logo). These two banks are partners in the Global ATM Alliance, which waives fees for cash withdrawals in several countries.
(2014 Update: Bank of America doesn’t charge a $5 fee for the withdrawal, but they do now charge 3% of the total amount withdrawn.)
Other bank customers
If your bank isn’t part of the Global ATM Alliance, check our guide to using ATMs in Europe.
And regardless of which bank you use, be sure to call them (and your credit card company) and let customer service know that you will be traveling before you leave. Otherwise the fraud protection department might freeze your card for suspicious activity, even if that just means that you are on vacation using your own debit card in a Parisian ATM machine.