Whine Wednesdays: Ridiculous ATM Conversion Fees


We have covered ridiculous currency conversion fees offered by ATMs worldwide a few times, but I came across one of the most atrocious ones last week in Mexico.

The ATM was willing to do me a huge favor by marking up the MXN to USD conversion by 12%, while the bank that I use doesn’t impose any and even reimburses the ATM fees (in this instance, roughly $4).

You should never accept the ATMs’ conversion but need to choose the DECLINE option.

Declining doesn’t mean that you won’t get the money. Instead, the currency conversion is done using Visa, Mastercard, or American Express designated rates that are nowhere near off by this amount. They are usually marked up by 1%.

You should also bank with a financial institution that doesn’t impose fees for withdrawing cash when outside of the country and which preferably reimburses possible expenses imposed by ATM operators.


I would like to know how many are so financially illiterate that they always choose one of these scam rates offered by ATMs or opts for the Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) pushed by many retailers?

You often need to press cancel on these terminals to bypass the DCC that would otherwise imply that you cancel the transaction.

Some of these ATMs also change the location of the cancel and accept buttons randomly. You always need to pay attention unless you don’t mind being robbed in daylight.

None of these conversions make any sense for the consumers and are only more cash for ATM operators and shops that split the DCC “bonus” with their payment processor.

What has been the highest conversion fee % offered by an ATM you have ever used?