Travel Advice - What to do when the ATM eats
One of the most discomforting money issues that can
occur while you are traveling is to have an ATM swallow your card during
an attempted transaction. If it is a weekend, you may not see your card
again until the bank re-opens. (You did use an ATM at a bank?) Getting
your ATM card back usually delays travel and, if you have not managed
your pocket cash effectively, can spell disaster (see our article
Take a blend of cash and cash equivalents
for suggestions on how to avoid this situation).
Most of us have great faith in ATMs and have not had
a “bad experience” using these handy cards. Most of the time, we use
ATMs provided by "our personal bank" and know that if there is a
problem, we can visit or telephone the bank to discuss an immediate
The same feeling of satisfaction is absent while
using ATMs on the road, especially when traveling internationally.
- Although a variety of networks allow you to use
ATM cards internationally, customer service degrades significantly if
you are not dealing with your “home” bank.
- It degrades even further if the ATM is not part
of a reputable bank network.
- We advise that you use only
those ATMs physically located at a bank or bureau de change rather
than stand-alone ATM kiosks.
- ATMs in airport arrival halls usually are
managed by one of the airport's authorized businesses and should be
OK to use.
- The main reason for using ATMs physically
connected with banks lies in the possible malfunction of the ATM.
- If the ATM at the bank “eats” your card, at
least your card is in the bank and not sitting in a machine with an
unknown service schedule.
- If your card is "eaten" at an ATM Kiosk, it may
prove difficult to determine when the machine will be serviced or to
contact the company responsible for servicing the kiosk to arrange
for return of the card.
If your card is not returned after a transaction at
an ATM located in a bank:
- Discuss the issue with a bank official (who has a
stake in seeing that the machine is repaired and in working order as
soon as possible, to serve the needs of their customers).
- Usually the ATMs process cards on a cycle and the
bank staff will not be able to retrieve your card from the ATM for
approximately one half hour.
- Be prepared to identify yourself and fill out
personal documentation before they return your card.
If your card is “eaten” in an after hours
transaction (at a bank):
- You will need to wait for the bank to open before
you can retrieve your card.
- Although our experience is that ATM’s do not
often “eat” ATM cards, we have had this happen during travel.
- If you absolutely cannot wait for the bank to
reopen, abandon your card and immediately call the card issuer, provide
details of the situation, and request immediate cancellation of the card
and determine if they can provide a new one to you at one of your
destinations (this may be very difficult if not impossible).
If you need to find information about Destinations or other Things
Travelers Need To Know, try Googling ThereArePlaces.
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