ATMs & Credit Cards
Before departure, you must purchase at least €250 so you will have currency to use when you first arrive in Well. Remember, you have to buy your reading packets during orientation weekend. The castle does not accept checks or credit or debit cards. When changing money always bring your passport. Please do not bring Euro notes larger than €50. Banks will charge you a 5% fee to make change for it.
For currency exchange rates, refer to the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, American Express, or this currency converter.
The currency in the Netherlands is the Euro. The Euro circulates among the following countries: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Vatican City.
If you plan to visit one or more of the following countries, you will need to purchase the local currency, as these countries have opted out of the EURO monetary union or have not yet satisfied the conditions for EURO membership:
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
- North Ireland
Emergency Money Transfers
If you need to send cash in a hurry to a student at the castle, money can be sent via Western Union. Depending on the type of service you use, money could be transferred within minutes. To pick up the cash, students should appear in person with the reference number given to the sender and their passport as ID. The closest point to the castle for receiving money transfers is GWK Travelex at the Venlo train station (a 30-minute trip from the castle):GWK Travelex Stationsplein 1
Venlo, 5913AA, Venlo (next to the station)
Tell the person who is wiring the money to send it to GWK-Holland and have them indicate the GWK bank at which you will be picking up your money (e.g., GWK Bank Holland: the GWK Bank office at Venlo train station). The sender (in the United States) receives a money control #. Once she/he fills out the form at the Western Union office, write down the reference number and give it to the student. The student will then take this number and his/her passport to the GWK office (or if abroad to the Money Gram office).
Opening hours of the Money Gramm in Venlo are:
Monday–Thursday: 9:00 am–6:00 pm
Saturday: 9:30 am–4:30 pm
Credit cards are not widely used for small purchases in the Netherlands (coffee, groceries, snacks, etc). Most shops and business prefer cash payment for goods. If you need cash, plan to use ATMs.
A debit card with the VISA or MasterCard logo on the card should allow you to use your card to withdraw cash at most ATMs in Europe. The fee for withdrawing cash will vary from bank to bank. Some ATMs are linked to more than one network, but not all. Your home bank likely charges a foreign ATM access fee. It would be wise to check with your bank to ask which European bank it is affiliated with. This may allow you to withdraw cash from certain affiliated banks for a lower fee. Also, be sure to ask your bank what your daily and weekly withdrawal limits are. View information about the Global ATM Alliance »
In the village of Well, there is only one ATM: A Rabobank ATM. Your card must have a VISA or MASTERCARD symbol on the card in order to use this ATM to make cash withdrawals. You can also use a Visa or MasterCard to make withdrawals, but withdrawing cash from a credit card will incur a fee of €4.50 per withdrawal at this machine.
Be warned: if you try to withdraw cash from the ATM and your card doesn’t work, try once more. IF the same thing happens, STOP (BECAUSE ON THE THIRD ATTEMPT, THE ATM WILL SWALLOW YOUR CARD).
Credit cards and ATM cards with 4-digit PINS work in most ATMs; however, ATM cards with 6-digit PINS are sometimes difficult to use in Europe (though former participants have reported that they work fine if you use just the first 4 digits). Try to set your pin to a 4-digit number before you leave for Europe!
Before You Leave
- Exciting News! According to the Wall Street Journal, every credit card in the U.S. will be replaced by October 2015 with new cards that contain the chip-and-PIN technology that the rest of the world has had for years.
- Ask your bank if they offer a “chip and pin/smart card” that is the current technology used for Euro credit cards. It may make it easier to withdraw cash and pay for goods.
- Make your PIN four digits. (numerical, not alpha). If your PIN is longer than 4 digits, best to get a new number. Make sure your cards do not expire before the end of your time in Europe.
- Ask about specific fees that come with using their card overseas. Find out if your bank has a “sister bank” or an “affiliate bank” that will charge less.
- Withdrawal limits: Ask your bank what your daily and weekly withdrawal limits are.
- Let your bank(s) know that you plan to use your cards while traveling abroad. If you don’t, the bank may notice atypical use and it could trigger a fraud alert.
- Set up online access to your bank accounts. This will allow you to check balances, make payments and transfer funds. If you check your account regularly while in Europe, you can see the exact exchange rate you’re getting, and whether the bank is charging unexpected fees.
- Maximize each withdrawal - Making several small withdrawals increases the number of per transaction fees. May be prudent to withdraw as much cash as you can each visit, then store it in a safe place.
- Watch out for weekends. Some banks don’t update their databases over the weekend. So if you’ve withdrawn the maximum amount on Friday, you may not be able to get more money off that card until Monday morning.
- Take two cards. Bring another (debit or credit) card so that you have a backup.
- Test your cards. Make sure your card works. Try it out in an ATM at home before you leave for Europe.
Major European businesses have switched to chip-and-pin credit cards - "a smart credit card" that has a tiny computer chip that will prompt you to enter a security pin, authorizing the purchase. Most European countries have moved on from the magnetic stripe credit card technology that is still prevalent in the U.S.To find out if your bank offers a “smart credit card” please contact your bank.
Credit cards are essential for emergency purposes. If your ATM card is lost, stolen or destroyed in error, you may have trouble accessing cash. A credit card can provide some measure of relief until you can replace your ATM card. If you use a credit card (rather than a debit card) for ATM transactions, it’s technically a "cash advance" rather than a "cash withdrawal" — and you may pay an exorbitant fee for the withdrawal. For other options, please read about the pre-paid/stored value cards).
Prepaid Stored Value/Travel Cards
One option that you should investigate is the "Travel or prepaid card." The principle is this: you plan your travel expenses, add some extra for unseen expenses, and put that amount into an account accessible by the travel card you order. You aren’t borrowing the bank’s money--you’re just making your money available through ATMs.
Many travel service companies offer a chip and pin card that can be filled with a pre-arranged amount of money. You can turn your ISIC card (International Student Identity Card) into a debit card. A popular card is the Visa Travel Money Card. Another good card is offered by American Express Global Travel Card. A variation of this card is also available through your local AAA office.