The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is home to many institutions of the European Union, and one of the most important financial centres of Europe. But there are plenty of reasons to visit for pleasure, as well as for work. The historic centre of the capital is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the surrounding countryside is unspoiled - an unexpected treat in the heart of Europe.
Whether you’re there for business or a holiday, you’re going to need some cash. Using ATMs to withdraw local currency is a convenient choice for many travellers and expats. Here’s all you need to know about using ATMs in Luxembourg.
Luxembourg is the home of European banking. Finding an ATM will be no problem** in populated areas. As a very multicultural country, with several official languages, ATMs are usually simply marked using the universally recognised ‘ATM’, and found in or near bank branches, shopping centres and supermarkets.
Find the most convenient ATM wherever in Luxembourg you happen to be, using one of the following ATM locators from large national and regional banks:
- BGL BNP Paribas ATM Locator
- Raiffeisen ATM Locator
- Banque et Caisse d'Épargne de l'État ATM Locator
- ING ATM Locator
- Banque Internationale à Luxembourg ATM Locator
Discover and Amex cards aren’t often accepted in ATMs in Luxembourg. Other networks are fairly well covered, with both ATMs and merchants accepting all other major cards. It’s a good idea to have some cash in your pocket if you’re headed somewhere rural, though, as the choice of ATMs will become limited.
Don’t forget that not all bank cards can be used in all ATMs. You’ll need an ATM which is on the same network as your card. Find a handy ATM to suit your needs using one of the following locators:
- Maestro ATM locator
- Mastercard and Cirrus ATM locator
- Visa, Plus, and Plus Alliance ATM locator
- Discover ATM locator
- American Express ATM locator
Like most places in Europe, bank cards issued in Luxembourg usually have chip and pin technology, with a 4 digit PIN code.
The magnetic stripe card, often issued in the USA, can still usually be used in ATMs in Luxembourg, but you’ll need to get the card’s PIN from your bank before you travel. Chip and pin cards from elsewhere in Europe, the UK and Australia, for example, should be accepted with no problem.
If your card has a maximum daily cash withdrawal limit set up, it’ll apply in Luxembourg, too. Daily or weekly withdrawal limits for locally issued cards tend to be fairly high, but some ATM providers will limit you to a withdrawal of about €250 per transaction, meaning that you might have to withdraw larger sums in several goes.
The last thing you want during your trip to Luxembourg is to discover your bank card is blocked or limited. This can happen if your bank fraud department spots unusual activity and puts a stop on your card for safety until they can confirm it’s you using it. Let them know that you’re planning to travel, ahead of time, and you should be able to use your card as normal during your trip.
Using an ATM to get the euro cash you need is convenient but it’s unlikely to be free. It’s pretty standard to charge even local customers for withdrawals made from ATMs which aren’t linked to the bank which issued the account. And on top of this, there are a few extra fees - and potential ripoffs - you’ll want to avoid if you use your foreign card in an ATM in Luxembourg.
Public enemy #1, when it comes to getting a fair price for your foreign ATM withdrawal, is dynamic currency conversion (DCC). You’ve probably come across DCC already if you travel regularly - it’s where you’re asked if you want to pay in your home currency when you’re buying something, or using an ATM abroad.
ATMs, shops and restaurants are often all too happy to push this ‘service’, but DCC transactions leave you exposed to hidden fees. The exchange rate used under DCC is often not the real, mid-market rate - the one you’d find on google. That’s because, if you choose DCC, the exchange rate is set by the foreign bank or ATM provider, rather than your home bank. You’re not their customer, so they often offer a poor rate, and pocket the difference as their profit. You’ll get a better deal if you always choose to pay in the local currency instead.
Chances are your own bank will also charge you to withdraw cash from an ATM abroad. The amounts vary wildly between different banks and account types, so it’s a good idea to check out the details in your terms and conditions before you travel.
Even if you’re a local in Luxembourg and use an ATM which is operated by a bank other than your home bank, you’ll likely be charged for the privilege. If you’re using a foreign card, there’s a high chance there will be a fee to pay the ATM provider as well as anything added by your home bank. Luckily, ATMs usually have an English option, so any extra costs will be shown before you complete the transaction, and you can check they’re acceptable.
Some of the large banks in Luxembourg offer free withdrawals to customers of their partner institutions abroad. If you’re withdrawing cash from a euro bank account, held with a partner bank, you might be able to get free or cheap ATM withdrawals in Luxembourg.
If your home account isn’t held in euros, and there’s a currency conversion needed, the chances are that you’ll be charged at some point in your transaction - either by your own bank or the ATM provider.
You can reduce ATM fees in Luxembourg with a few simple tricks. However, unless you have a local bank account, you’ll probably struggle to avoid the costs entirely.
Ask your home bank ahead of time, if they have any local partner institution in Luxembourg. If they do, you could get free or reduced-fee ATM use while you’re abroad, if you stick to ATMs run by a partner bank.
Lots of people have several different local bank accounts and can choose which to rely on when overseas. If that’s the case for you, then it’s well worth checking the small print and choosing the one which offers the best deal. Foreign currency cash advances using a credit card are usually an expensive choice and should be avoided if at all possible.
Some ATMs in the more obvious tourist locations, or else in pubs, nightclubs and other places with a captive audience, might not offer great value. Stick to ATMs attached to banks, in supermarkets or shopping centres if you can.
Remember DCC? Avoid. Pay in local currency instead or you could be hit with DCC’s high fees and poor exchange rates.
For many travellers, TransferWise is a convenient and cheap alternative to get holiday cash. TransferWise only uses the real, mid-market exchange rate, and the fees are laid out up front so you know exactly what you’re getting.
If you have a local Luxembourg bank account, or if you have a friend or family member who does, you can transfer money between accounts before your trip. TransferWise uses the best exchange rate available, for a quick and convenient transfer with no hidden charges. Then you can simply use ATMs in Luxembourg to withdraw cash from the local account when you need it.
A borderless multi-currency account from TransferWise is a great choice for frequent travellers and could leave you even better off. You can hold your cash in any one of dozens of different currencies, including euros, with no monthly account fee to pay. Set up your debit card for the account, and pay with your euro balance in shops and restaurants, avoiding ATM fees, and dodgy exchange rates, entirely.
Your trip to Luxembourg is not going to be cheap, so cutting out unnecessary costs is essential. Using ATMs can be a good way to get your euro cash for the trip without being hit by unfair fees. Alternatively, use TransferWise, to send money to a local account, or spend using your borderless multi-currency account card, and avoid ATMs altogether.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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