Catharine Hamm's recent article about automated teller machines was as clear as mud ["ATMs Can Be Your BFF When Abroad," April 27]. Sorry for being so harsh, but her circuitous explanation seemed to mix apples and oranges. There are foreign transaction fees, and there are fees banks charge for use of an ATM. FTF apply to ATMs as well as purchase transactions. A credit card with no FTF for cash withdrawals may still have FTF for purchases. In addition, your bank may waive its ATM fee, but the bank where you actually withdraw the funds may assess its own fee. She should clarify these points for her readers.
You just spent thousands of dollars on airfare, hotels, meals and tours when abroad. If you use a credit card with a 3% fee, every $1,000 spent in-country will cost you $30. If you use foreign currency worth $1,000 and withdraw two equal amounts you would incur $40 in fees.That's $30 for the currency fee and two $5 ATM transaction fees. Most travelers will not have large cash needs or anything close to my $1,000 example. The fees, in relationship to the total cost of your trip, are insignificant.
Hamm missed a chance to inform readers that many major banks have foreign corresponding banks. For example, Bank of America offers free ATM withdrawals at Barclays in the United Kingdom, Scotiabank in Canada and BNP-Paribas in France. We travel frequently and have rarely had a problem.
Here is a tip. If you belong to a federal credit union, you are probably able to use the ATMs of many other credit unions and banks connected to the network to withdraw cash at no charge.
I belong to Parsons Federal Credit Union, with only two branches. However, they are connected to the CO-OP ATM Network. In the late 1990s, I worked in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and my paycheck was deposited electronically to my Parsons credit union account.
I was able to withdraw cash for living expenses from my Pasadena account at multiple ATMs of the British American Bank all over Riyadh at no charge, because that bank was also on the CO-OP ATM Network. This was a wonderful benefit.
For overseas travel, I would recommend talking to your credit union about network locations.
Tom J. Kosakowski
No thanks to 'fake' Hawaii
In response to Alex Pulaski's article about Disney's Aulani resort ["Disney's Aulani Helps to Elevate Ko Olina," April 20], and after living on Oahu for a year in 1961, and traveling to Hawaii many times over the years since then, I have to say that no development "elevates" any part of these islands. That photo of the concrete fake Hawaii that was included with the article couldn't possibly remind anyone of the calm, peaceful islands back in the day.
There are still a few undeveloped areas left, but for how long? I am well aware that these huge new resorts supply thousands of well-needed jobs for the local people, but at what cost to a once pristine and and relatively untouched destination (with the exception of Waikiki) that it once was?
I am glad I was able to see and enjoy Oahu during those early days when one could drive a few miles from the tourist areas and find lonely beaches and not share them with throngs of humanity.
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