Estonia has never been a traditional tourist location. However, with its picturesque towns and countrysides and burgeoning food scene, Estonia is becoming a budget traveller’s bucket list spot. If you’re planning a visit, you’ll find that debit and credit cards are widely accepted, but you’ll still want to have some cash on hand for small purchases. Luckily, ATMs in Estonia are plentiful and easy to use. Read on to learn more.
ATMs are common and can be found in almost all Estonian towns. If you’re having trouble finding an ATM, your best bet is to find a bank, as most of them will have ATMs inside or outside. Most Estonian bank websites are written in Estonian, but a few of them have English tools to help you locate a the nearest branch or ATM:
There are also a number of foreign banks that have branches in Estonia:
US, UK and Australian cards should work in Estonia. Visa and Mastercard are most widely accepted, though American Express is less common but still sometimes accepted. Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept debit and credit cards, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash just in case you stumble upon a shop that doesn’t take plastic, or if you’re making a small purchase.
If you’re looking for an ATM that uses the same network as your debit card, these tools may help:
- Maestro ATM locator
- Mastercard and Cirrus ATM locator
- Visa, Plus, and Plus Alliance ATM locator
- Discover ATM locator
- American Express ATM locator
In Europe, cards with four-digit PINs are most common. If your card has more, you may want to request to change to a four-digit PIN before going to Estonia. Chip and PIN cards are implemented throughout Europe, and if you still have a magnetic swipe card, you may find you aren’t able to use it in some shops and ATMs.
Before you go anywhere abroad, you should let your bank know where you’re planning to travel, when and for how long. That way, the bank can make a note that foreign activity on your card is not suspicious or fraudulent, potentially protecting you from having your card shut down while you’re abroad, something no traveller wants to have to deal with.
You can also see if your bank has a maximum daily withdrawal limit, and, if you’re going to be withdrawing large amounts of cash while in Estonia, request to have that limit temporarily raised for the duration of your trip.
Using ATMs without incurring fees can be tricky, but read on for some tips.
When using a foreign ATM, you may be given the seemingly helpful option to view the transaction in your home currency, rather than the local currency. Dynamic currency conversion is a service that actually allows the ATM to set its own currency exchange rate, often poorer than the mid-market rate (the rate you see when you Google it), and then charge you what is essentially a hidden fee for your withdrawal. In Denmark, you can avoid this by simply choosing to view transactions in euros, rather than in your home currency. You’ll have to do the math of the conversion yourself, but you’ll save money.
Most European banks don’t charge fees for using their ATMs. However, commercial ATMs might charge flat fees. Your home bank may also charge you withdrawal fees or foreign transaction fees. Check with your bank ahead of time to ask about fees, and pay close attention when using a foreign ATM so they don’t catch you off guard.
The best way to avoid ATM fees is to choose a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and reimburses the customer for ATM fees. You can also avoid ATMs in stores, hotels and airports, as they tend to have higher fees. If you find that the ATM you’re using charges a per-transaction fee, make a single large withdrawal rather than multiple small ones. And remember to always pay in the local currency to avoid dynamic currency conversion fees.
If you or someone you know has access to a bank account in Estonia, use TransferWise to transfer money there ahead of time at the mid-market rate with no hidden fees or markups -- just a small, fair transfer fee. TransferWise also offers borderless multi-currency accounts that allow you to send, receive and hold money in multiple different currencies, including euros, as well as consumer debit cards for EU customers.
Feeling more prepared for your trip to Estonia? Good luck, and safe travels.
Although Estonia is a small country, it punches well above its weight, and attracts tourists and expats from all over the globe. Maybe you’re headed to work...