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Author Topic: Avoiding new “currency conversion” fees while using an ATM in Colombia  (Read 158 times)

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Offline Jedimaster

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I went to withdraw money at a Bancolombia ATM yesterday and I noticed that in addition to Bancolombia’s stardard ATM withdrawal fee of 18000 pesos there is now a new “currency conversion mark up fee” included in all atm withdrawals.  As it turns out this fee is a hefty 6.5% of the withdrawal.

For example, if you are withdrawing 600,000 pesos this fee will turn out to be 39,000 pesos.  If you add this fee to the stardard atm withdrawal fee of 18,000 pesos this adds up to 57,000 pesos.  So nearly 10% of your money is gone before it even reaches your hands.

Does anyone hear know of any banks that do not charge this new  currency conversion mark up fee of 6.5%?  Also, I happen to have a Schwab atm debit card—does anyone know if this new “currency conversion mark up fee” is refundable just like atm withdrawal fees are refundable with a schwab account?

Offline benjio

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At 10% it may be more economic to send the money to yourself via Western Union!!!! Depending on the amount of course. That is ridiculous!!!!

Offline Elexpatriado

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At 10% it may be more economic to send the money to yourself via Western Union!!!! Depending on the amount of course. That is ridiculous!!!!






First of all, dont use BancoColombia- in addition to the hefty exchange rate,they charge you something like 16 mil pesos for withdrawal.


NOTE- you have 2 ways to be ripped off in ATM withdrawals, -the "Onscreen" surcharge , which everyone gets, and for foreigners, the exchange rate - which depends on what type of card you have.


The two banks with zero on screen charges are Davivienda and Colpatria- although not all Colpatria banks are surcharge free.


Also, in many cases the individual ATMs will ask you to accept their conversion rate.They are realy clear as to how much (% wise) they are ripping you off. Just press "Declinar Conversión" and you will get the conversion rate used by your credit card.


The second mistake you guys are making is the type of credit card you are using. Most US residents/ citizens  use Charles Scwab (the most practical) or Capital 1, which use the Visa International exchange rate, (Not the ATM Bank`s rippoff exchange rate) which is always within 1 % of the XE.COM, midpoint rate, although lagging by 1 day (1-3 days during weekends and holidays-i.e will still be using last Fridays rate on Monday).


I dont understand the fine details of these cards, but apparently they will also reimburse you if you go to BancoColombia, BancoBogota or other banks (other than Davivienda, Colpatria ) that have "onscreen" surcharges. Also, the visa internationl exchange rate is used for both ATM wihdrawals and Purchase. Most other cards will charge you 1 to 2% on top of Visa International exchange rate for purchases and let the local bank ATM set the exchange rate for withdrawals.


Myself as a Canadian I have a KOHO  visa debit card for both ATM withdrawals and purchase (another option is "Stacks" card ) . I preload it by Etransfer from my TD account, and transfer is almost instantaneous.


I use Davivienda or Colpatria for withdrawals, with no surcharge and Visa International excchange rate. I go to the Visa site and check this out thoroughly almost every purchase-especially when i first strted using it.


I also use it in in Ecuador and determined which was  the bank there with the lowest surcharge ( I believe it was Banco Pinchinca with a $2 dollar surcharge and $200 max withdrawal, working out to be equal to 1%)


In addition I get "cash back" on some purchases, which for me worked out to an additional 0.5%to 1% annualy.


All in all I probably save at least  couple thousand $US a year compared to what I was doing previously.


A couple other points-


No matter what card you have , when travelling and making a purchase , if the CC Machine asks you " Do you want to make the purchase in your home currency or Local currency? (eg, $USD or COP)..Always, always choose "Local " currency (eg COP) --no matter which country you are in,. This is another scam by the local bank to rip naive tourists and travellers off.


Secondly, be a little careful when using Davivienda ATMs. All Colombian banks are corrupt. Sometimes they  will not dispense money , but will charge your account. This seems to ba a little more prevelant with Daviivienda at this time.It only happened to me once in the past 2 years, and I reported it , and my bank investigated and reimbeursed me.


Always get a reciept when you dont recieve cash after a withdrawal, and immediately check your account to see if cash has been withdrawal.Also phone the Davivienda (or other bank)  help line and go to the related Bank (for tht ATM) to document your loss.

I am pretty sure Davivienda is not doing this on purpose, but being Colombians, they will not like to give you your money back, but take heart, your home bank will discover your error and reimburse you-eventually.




« Last Edit: December 02, 2020, 08:24:22 AM by Elexpatriado »

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