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Thread: Using ATM cards from USA in ST Barts

  1. #1
    beachboy7733 is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Oct 2012 York, Pa. Posts: 12

    Using ATM cards from USA in ST Barts

    What experiences have you had w/ATM cards from USA? I read on St Bart's website, U.S. ATM cards do not work there due to a French system and PIN #. Help!, we really don't want to carry alot of cash with us. Thinking about getting a pre-loaded card. Any thoughts.?

  2. #2
    andynap is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 43,815
    I don't know where you read but ATM cards work on St Bart's- that's all I use for getting euros. Make sure you have a 4 digit code. I think you are looking at ATM cards at the gas station.


    Andy

  3. #3
    KevinS is online now
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 20,377
    I use my BofA ATM card in SBH regularly. I have a PIN that is more than 4 digits, and it works just fine. The trick with PINs is to know it as a number, not as a word. There are no letters on the keys of the ATMs in SBH. For example, if you know your PIN at home as FRED, you will need to enter it as 3733 on SBH. You will enter it using the same keys, but there will only be numbers on the keys to guide you.

    At present, using my BofA ATM card in SBH results in a 1% Visa fee, and a $5 per transaction BofA fee. The 1% Visa fee is non-negotiable, but I've successfully argued my way out of the $5 BofA transaction fee. As of November 8 BofA's fee increases to 3%. I suspect that it is 1% to Visa, and 2% additional profit to BofA.

    I'm undecided as to whether I will use my ATM card or a Credit Card more on my upcoming trip. BofA's fee change may force me to acquire a no-fee Capital One credit card.

  4. #4
    KevinS is online now
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 20,377
    And, as Andy pointed out, ATM cards do not work at the gas station after hours. Neither do credit cards unless they have a Chip and PIN. Chip and Signature cards may also work, but I haven't had one to try until recently. I'll know more about that later this month.

  5. #5
    KevinS is online now
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 20,377
    One additional thought - are you planning to use your ATM card to withdraw Euros from an ATM, or are you planning to use it to pay for meals and other expenses? I've only ever used mine to withdraw cash. I have no experience using it in a restaurant or shop. I do use other non-chip US credit cards in restaurants and shops, and just sign the printed slip. SBH is much more attuned to the antiquated US credit card system than mainland France is.

    Perhaps someone else (JEK? BBT?) can speak to using preloaded cards on SBH.

  6. #6
    katva is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 4,764
    I use my ATM card from BB&T at restaurants, boutiques, grocery stores, etc with no problem. I don't recall if there's a transaction fee, or what it is.....I should check this! But I use it all the time--- basically run it as a credit card at the establishments. Of course, it also works to withdraw Euros at the SBH ATMs.
    If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room :)

  7. #7
    LMAC is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Feb 2003 Northern Virginia Posts: 1,567
    One word of caution - for some reason there are several ATM machines on St. Barts that don't seem to work with our BB&T card (or, now that I think of it, the one before that). I've seen looks of panic on others who have had the same issue ……. particularly with the one near Laurent Eiffel. Just find another ATM machine and you should be fine. Katva …… there is a fee!!!!
    Libby

  8. #8
    katva is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 4,764
    Yes---I just looked it up---$ 5.00 per transaction + 3%. I usually withdraw around $ 1 K in cash, in perhaps 3 transactions, and use it a few times at restos when I "treat"....so I'm guessing my total fees might total $ 50-$ 60 or so. = 5%-8% or more total. But, then I don't have any credit card balances to deal with when I return..but, yes, something to think about! Maybe I'll just use the credit card that doesn't have a foreign transaction fee, and pay it off in cash when we return....could save a few bux. But, we need cash anyways....All in all, not too big of a deal when considering the total cost of the trip.

    We've had our BB & T ATM cards work at every machine so far----with the caveat that they sometimes don't work, for whatever reason (maybe the machine is out of cash)---and the screen displays something to the effect that we should contact our bank---but then we just go to a different machine, or come back to the same one later, and it works. I warned my sister about the fickleness of the ATMs there before her trip, and so she was prepared, and didn't panic.

    Edit: It's definitely important to let your bank know you are travelling. We are very friendly with our local, VERY small town branch manager, so she knows the drill. We still ask her to add SBH, SXM, France and Guadeloupe to the countries we're visiting. We haven't had any problems so far.....
    If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room :)

  9. #9
    tim is offline
    Moderator Joined: Jun 2003 Vélo, Virginia Posts: 16,799
    I use my Capital One VISA card frequently to withdraw cash from St. B ATM's, as well as a myriad of other transactions. There's no foreign currency exchange fee as there is with most credit cards.
    The best moderation is the least moderation.

  10. #10
    beachboy7733 is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Oct 2012 York, Pa. Posts: 12
    Thank You for clearing that up!

  11. #11
    NHDiane is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2003 New Hampshire Posts: 6,928
    We use just our bank ATM and have never had an issue, but always let them know when we plan a trip out of the country. We get reimbursed for transaction fees.
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  12. #12
    GramChop is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Austin, Texas Posts: 17,217
    Quote Originally Posted by KevinS View Post
    And, as Andy pointed out, ATM cards do not work at the gas station after hours. Neither do credit cards unless they have a Chip and PIN. Chip and Signature cards may also work, but I haven't had one to try until recently. I'll know more about that later this month.
    Having local friends with Chip and PIN cards sure is a life-saver! Merci, Rosemond!!
    The waves of the sea bring me back to me.

  13. #13
    katva is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 4,764
    Quote Originally Posted by tim View Post
    I use my Capital One VISA card frequently to withdraw cash from St. B ATM's, as well as a myriad of other transactions. There's no foreign currency exchange fee as there is with most credit cards.
    I just got a PIN from Capital One, and also from another card (name escapes me right now!)---neither charges the foreign transaction or currency fees, and so we're going to be using them this trip---will save us a few bucks....and the AMEX for the rental car will help with the insurance---so, maybe an extra dinner at La Plage, all in all
    If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room :)

  14. #14
    tim is offline
    Moderator Joined: Jun 2003 Vélo, Virginia Posts: 16,799
    My A/A Citibank card has a Chip also. I wonder if it'll work at the St. Jean gas station. I don't recall having a PIN number.
    The best moderation is the least moderation.

  15. #15
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,767
    Only if it has a CHIP Name:  images.jpeg
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  16. #16
    katva is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 4,764
    Right.....I meant I got the PIN so I can make cash withdrawals and not get the foreign transaction and currency fees. I realize this is different from the chip & pin thing you need for the gas station. My credit cards don't have that yet, and I'm not worried about it--- we fill up when the station is open :)
    If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room :)

  17. #17
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,767
    Sorry, replying to Mod ONE.
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  18. #18
    katva is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 4,764
    Quote Originally Posted by JEK View Post
    Sorry, replying to Mod ONE.
    Oops! But I am so glad to have gotten the intel on the Capital One no fees and the AMEX car insurance thing. It makes a big difference (to us)! Keep the intel coming
    If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room :)

  19. #19
    KevinS is online now
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 20,377
    Tim,

    If your AA Citibank card is like mine then it is a Chip and Sign card, not a Chip and Pin card. I don't know if it will work at an unattended terminal, such as the gas station at night. From Cardhub.com:

    "Chip-and-signature credit cards differ from chip-and-PIN cards in that you verify your identity with your signature, rather than via PIN. They are therefore not quite as secure as chip-and-PIN cards but are more so than magnetic stripe credit cards in light of the embedded computer chip. Chip-and-signature credit cards are generally accepted everywhere chip-and-PIN cards are, with the exception of certain unmanned payment terminals equipped to take chip-based cards."

    There was some discussion here a few months back that may have an answer regarding the gas station. I'll see if I can find it.

  20. #20
    KevinS is online now
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 20,377
    Tim,

    I found the thread from this spring. It is at https://www.sbhonline.com/forums/threads/74962 I think that the final answer is to try it and see. It appears that one person had success with a chip and sign card, and another did not. I'll give it a try later this month.

  21. #21
    tim is offline
    Moderator Joined: Jun 2003 Vélo, Virginia Posts: 16,799
    Kevin, I thought I remembered a similar discussion, and we'll look forward to your report. All my winter flights are on Sundays, so it might come in handy if it works at the St. Jean service station.

    P.S. To iJean, I've defiitely got the Chip.:)
    The best moderation is the least moderation.

  22. #22
    elgreaux is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Saint Barth Posts: 10,535
    chip and sign does not seem to work but you never know....

  23. #23
    debd is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2005 CT Posts: 1,004
    Quote Originally Posted by tim View Post
    My A/A Citibank card has a Chip also. I wonder if it'll work at the St. Jean gas station. I don't recall having a PIN number.
    Was not aware that there is an A/A Citibank card with a chip. Tim, did you request that or is it maybe a higher level Citibank card?

  24. #24
    tim is offline
    Moderator Joined: Jun 2003 Vélo, Virginia Posts: 16,799
    Quote Originally Posted by debd View Post
    Was not aware that there is an A/A Citibank card with a chip. Tim, did you request that or is it maybe a higher level Citibank card?
    It's an A/A Citi Mastercard, Platinum level. I didn't request it; it just came that way.
    The best moderation is the least moderation.

  25. #25
    andynap is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 43,815
    Quote Originally Posted by tim View Post
    It's an A/A Citi Mastercard, Platinum level. I didn't request it; it just came that way.
    I have that one and it's not chip and pin and won't work at the gas pumps in SBH. But I know their hours so I don't worry about it.


    Andy

  26. #26
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    Just a reminder that these are banks; if there's no fee, the fee is most likely built into the exchange rate. Or if you're really luck, you get both.

    The currency exchange kiosks advertising "no fee" aren't a charity either.

  27. #27
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,767
    Quote Originally Posted by andynap View Post
    I have that one and it's not chip and pin and won't work at the gas pumps in SBH. But I know their hours so I don't worry about it.
    I know the hours too, but with a long stay I always seem to be running on empty Sunday morning. USAA C & P this next trip.
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party -- June 5, 2023

  28. #28
    KevinS is online now
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 20,377
    Quote Originally Posted by tim View Post
    My A/A Citibank card has a Chip also. I wonder if it'll work at the St. Jean gas station. I don't recall having a PIN number.
    Tim, I tried using my A/A Citibank Chip and Sign card last night. No go.

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  29. #29
    andynap is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 43,815
    TWIS


    Andy

  30. #30
    tim is offline
    Moderator Joined: Jun 2003 Vélo, Virginia Posts: 16,799
    Kevin, thanks for the info.
    The best moderation is the least moderation.

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