One of the many delightful things about Norway is that their term for ATMs is ‘minibanks’. Whether you’re travelling there for work or play, here’s all you need to know about Norwegian ATMs.
Minibanks are not hard to find in Norway if you’re in a major city - check outside banks or in commercial places like shopping centres. Further out, it’s inevitably harder to find them, so if you’re off to smaller Norwegian towns or going hiking, it might be wise to get your cash out first.
An ATM locator can help you find the nearest one to you. Here are a few of the biggest banks operating in Norway, and how to find their ATMs.
You’re likely to be fine with your card in Norway if it’s on one of the major networks. Check what sort of card yours is - Mastercard, Visa etc - and see where you can get money out here:
- Maestro ATM locator
- Mastercard and Cirrus ATM locator
- Visa, Plus, and Plus Alliance ATM locator
- Discover ATM locator
- American Express ATM locator
Minibanks may be plentiful, but take care: if you have a 6-digit PIN, it might not work in Norwegian machines. Check with your bank, but the safest thing to do would be to change your PIN to a 4-digit one before you leave home.
Like other Scandinavian countries, Norway is keen on card payments, so you’ll probably find it a lot easier to get by if you can make card payments with ‘chip and pin’, rather than with a signature. Easier still are contactless payments. If you’re someone who still signs when you make card payments, consider making the switch before your trip.
Sometimes, there’s a limit of how much money you can take out of an ATM each day, regardless of how much you have in your account. But this withdrawal limit is generally set by your home bank, rather than by the machine you choose to use.
Therefore, to find out how much money you’ll be able to withdraw from ATMs while you’re in Norway, the best thing to do is check with your home bank. Be careful: they might have different limits for domestic and international ATM withdrawals.
Tell your bank what you’re up to - otherwise, when they start seeing transactions in a foreign country, they might think your card has been stolen or cloned. Give them a call or notify them via online banking, giving the dates of your trip abroad.
As the saying goes, the best ATMs in life are free. But you probably won’t encounter any of those if you’re travelling abroad. Here’s a guide to the fees you might face if you’re using an ATM in Norway.
There’s one rule that applies anywhere you travel around the world. If an ATM asks you which currency you want to be charged in, always choose the currency of the country you’re in. So in Norway, get your money out in Norwegian kroner.
If you choose to take money out in your home currency, the ATM will calculate the amount using a method known as Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). With DCC, the foreign bank can charge you commission - in effect, you pay simply to have the machine convert the money for you. And even worse, it can make up the exchange rate itself, meaning that you’ll probably get less money as a result.
But if you choose to take the money out in kroner, there’s no commission to pay the foreign bank, and the exchange rate will likely be substantially better, if not the actual mid-market rate. So always choose this option and don’t fall into the bank’s trap.
It’s not just the foreign bank looking to make money of your withdrawal, though. In fact, most of the fees you face at an ATM come from your home bank.
The details vary considerably, though, so you should check carefully with your home bank. There might be several different fees, too. Find out if there’s a flat fee with every withdrawal, as well as if they take a percentage cut.
Traditionally, Norwegian banks haven’t charged anything for domestic ATM use, although DNB has quite recently introduced charges, citing the country’s increasing shift towards electronic purchases.
That’s still a ‘home bank’ fee, though, rather than a fee charged by the bank that owns the ATM you use. Unless it’s via DCC - see above - in Norway, the ATM-owning bank is unlikely to charge you a fee just for using it. Always be careful, though: keep a close eye on what the machine tries to charge you.
Totally free cash withdrawals are always difficult when you’re abroad, but the actual amounts charged are likely to vary widely depending on your home bank - and indeed what sort of account you have with them.
It’s always worth checking if your bank has any partnerships with Norwegian or Scandinavian banks: in such cases, some ATM fees might be waived. Ask your bank directly to be sure. But be aware that there are numerous slightly different fees that might be charged, and it’s possible that you might still have to pay some but not all of them. What’s more, unless you’re charged at the mid-market exchange rate, you’re not getting as much value out of your money as you could be.
Here are a few hints on how to get out of the worst of the ATM charges you’ll probably face in Norway.
- Check if your home bank has any partnerships with Norwegian banks, as mentioned above.
- Choose your card wisely: normal credit cards aren’t worth using at international ATMs, and if you have debit cards with several different banks there might be considerable variation between the fees charged.
- Make fewer, larger withdrawals - the best way to get around paying multiple transaction fees.
- Avoid ATMs around the airport or hotels, because the exchange rates might be higher in these tourist-heavy areas.
- Always choose to pay in the local currency - don’t fall into the DCC trap.
ATMs remain among the best ways to get at your cash when you’re travelling abroad. But in Norway especially, cash is slowly on the way out, and card transactions are ever more common. So, a TransferWise debit card with a borderless multi-currency account could be the ideal solution - you can avoid ATM fees altogether and pay in seconds without any sneaky hidden fees to trip you up.
Even without a debit card, a borderless account allows you to hold money in Norwegian krone - and dozens of other currencies, making it far easier to operate internationally, whether or not you have a Norwegian bank account.
Why is it a better value? TransferWise only ever uses the mid-market rate: the only exchange rate that’s fair to use, and a far better value than you’re likely to get from a bank when you make an international money transfer. The only cost on transfers is a small percentage fee, and it’s always stated clearly upfront, meaning you can always tell exactly how much money you’ll send and/or receive. Take a look now and see how much you could save.
ATMs in Norway are fairly straightforward to use, but whenever you use a bank internationally you might find yourself paying more than you need. So be sure to know your options. And enjoy your time in Norway!
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