How does withdrawing Cash abroad actually work?

Right something I have been wondering about and cant get an answer.

If I deposit £100 onto my Monzo card. Then, when in spain go to an ATM how does the transaction function?

Will the ATM display the £100 in Euros using the Mastercard rate at present? Or the Banks own??

Because the rate is dynamic, what if on day 1 £100 would get me €111 if the rate is 1.11? What happens if when the transaction is finalised the rate has changed to 1.09? Because the card is prepaid it cant take any more than what is on it?

Or when using an ATM is that transaction finalised there and then? and it is only dynamic if using the card at a merchant?

I fear you’re in for a world of hurt posting this today :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: but not from me.

Monzo is not primarily a travel product for the purpose of free FX. i.e. topping up £100 then withdrawing that exact amount from an ATM is not an intended workflow. Just like you wouldn’t run a CA down to exactly £0, it’s not a great idea to do that with Monzo either. Just keep a sufficient balance on your card to cover any small fluctuations in exchange rate.

As for what will be shown on the ATM, you want to be withdrawing in EUR, not GBP, in order to get the exchange rate offered by Mastercard/Monzo. If you agree to let the machine convert currency for you you’ll almost always get an inferior rate. So if the machine asks what currency to use, always select the local currency. Same for POS purchases.

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Haha oh yes I am aware of the debate! I have never actually used the card abroad but will most likely next week.

I was just wondering about the scenario I have given… as I struggle to get my head around whether a cash withdrawal is a finalised transaction there and then or if it like merchant purchases takes a day or two?

The ongoing debate is more in regards to charges for using ATM’s not what the exchange rate is at a given time.

I am a little confused. My scenario wont happen with me in all likelihood as I wouldn’t draw all my cash out and then run the risk of carry a lot of cash. But my question still stands :slight_smile:

Hopefully someone else can answer the instant-or-not part of your question.

As for going overdrawn due to fluctuating exchange rates, this has actually happened to me through a POS transaction. While it caused a minor display issue in the app (this was early-ish days of Monzo, and around that cool time when the £ was suddenly worthless) all was well once I topped up, and Monzo never shouted at me or charged me a fee (YMMV).

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My experience of foreign ATM withdrawals, although not specifically on Monzo, is that they’re settled similarly to other foreign-currency usage, by which I mean the rate finally applied to your account may not be the rate for the date of the transaction but for a day or two later.

Even if you’re planning to withdraw £250, it’s very unlikely that the rate for this would differ by more than a few quid.

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Difference of 7 pences is massive and you are talking about few quids omg. Im stressed now

I withdrew some cash when I was in the States earlier in the summer and the rate from the day I withdrew didn’t differ from rate on the day it settled. So in my case there was no change.

However in your example I suspect (someone from Monzo can probably confirm) that if it differs and you havent got the funds it’ll put you overdrawn. I’ve been in negative funds on my Monzo account before due to TfL, dont see why this would be any different.

Yeah that would make sense. Put your balance negative and then obviously recoup it when you top up again.

Although, I’d say just use your card in the POS terminal AS MUCH as you can. That’s going to remain free for you and Monzo. Plus I (personal opinion) think it’s a lot easier than using cash.

Yeah it settles after a few days and the balance on the transaction will change to the final fee. I’ve never had it change by more than a penny or two. The prepaid card can go overdrawn in some circumstances (as others have mentioned, the rate changing or TfL who do a weird thing with their payments).

Just remember the golden rule…

Never ever accept the Dynamic Currency Conversion rate. At best it’s around 3%. The worst I’ve seen is nearly 20% when withdrawing cash at an ATM in Düsseldorf Airport.

As for the charge on your account it’s around 2-3 days when using an ATM abroad for the amount to be finalised.

To answer the OPs question:

(Nb: that post is from 2015, hence the “no fees” bit :wink: )

Hope that helps :slight_smile:

I’m looking at the answers so far, and as useful as they are, I don’t feel they’ve answered the OPs question.

What happens.
Card in machine.
Select English.
Enter PIN
Choose amount in local currency.

So. This is what the OP is asking IMO. The ATM doesn’t care really what currency you are used to. They want to know how much local currency you want. So you top up £100, so then ask for €100 and you’ll have a few £££ left (€1.11 to £1 as of writing)

You may get asked if you want to convert (this is called DCC - Dynamic Currency Conversion) and the answer with your Monzo card is always no, and transact in Euros.

That is how withdrawing cash in a euro country works.

(The US is slightly different from my experience)



Sometimes the machine even switches to English automatically!


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