Money Cash Geld Bar Euros Francs

Two years ago, for our last trip to Europe, I opened a Citibank account with a MasterCard. Apparently Citibank had the best deals in withdrawing cash from ATMs.

The card is actually a debit card, so I have to have the money in the account and cannot go into debt. I also wanted to have an additional card linked to an account that wasn’t linked to my pay. That way, if the card was skimmed, I could just close that account and not have any issues. And any scam-merchants couldn’t take too much money or leave me with a debt.

The card worked well and having a different card was a valuable safety net. Especially when Mr S’s Visa card was cancelled last trip as he was scammed.

I haven’t used the account for the intervening time. Leaving the $400 or so there for our next trip, which is this trip. Just before we left, I transferred $2,000 into the account.

That was to be our part of our travel budget.

You know where this is going, right?

The card is now not recognised by any ATMs. Not in Germany, Switzerland, Italy. Nowhere. Tried to pay for something. Nope.

So I have about two and a half thousand dollars I cannot access!

Things, especially eating out, are so exxy here that we are burning through money. We haven’t been profligate; haven’t bought too many things. Still, cash seems to be vanishing.

We needed cash to pay for the Cinque Terre accommodation (the only one that wasn’t paid in advance) as they do not accept cards. I was worried about taking money out. Would we have anything left in our accounts? Were we already in the red? The Aussie dollar is pretty bad at the moment and I haven’t been checking the exchange rate.

I was hesitant to go online and check our accounts. But I needed to check that we could cover our needs – we can’t just stop eating – and the upcoming mortgage repayment. (And then there are the plane tickets for our trip to the States in January that I purchased while here in Europe!!! Let that one slip by, didn’t I?)

Hey! Good news.

We are both in the black. By thousands.

I promised Mr S we would not go into debt for this trip. And we would be paying more than the minimum on the mortgage. And we could still afford our reduced pay which is going towards our year off in 2021. And we could afford to go to the US. (But not afford the needed fence. Sorry neighbours.)

That said, I do what I call Big Picture Budgeting.

I roughly know what we’ll spend and “feel” that things are going well, rather than itemise all income and expenses.

So now I know we have plenty of money, we won’t go hungry for the next week. And I get to keep my promise that we will have no credit card debt for this trip.

I’m tossing up whether to get the Citibank card replaced or to just shut the account down. We have several upcoming trips overseas in the next two years.

What do you think? About the Citibank account.

(Don’t tell me I need to be more specific and detailed in my budgeting. Ain’t gunna happen.)

16 thoughts on “Money Cash Geld Bar Euros Francs

  1. What a horrible discovery to not be able to access your funds! Was the Citibank card not recognized because it was a Mastercard? I had no trouble extracting cash with a Visa card from ATMs in Europe or UK. Would certainly have a talk with Citibank when you return (as I gather you can’t at the moment) about why the card is no longer usable overseas. Not much point in having a useless card with inaccessible funds. Perhaps it is time to find another bank if they don’t offer a Visa option…just not sure which banks you might have access to in Australia.

    In the US there is a website, thepointsguydotcom, which has a lot of travel review info but also gives regular updates on the best credit card deals, usually for getting more points for travel, but perhaps some ideas on atm cards. Not sure if any of the info would work for you as Aussies, but thought I would pass it on. Also, flyertalkdotcom has news about travel (and folks from all over the world post info), but also tons of forums where people exchange info for just about any travel info you could want — all the airline programs/hotel programs/ destinations/etc. Might do a search under their Travel/Dining Forums as there seem to be postings there that might have info about decent debit cards for ATMs. Good luck.

    • Oh thank you. I will look at those sites. I can’t access the account online because I can’t remember the password. If it is just the card that needs replacing, I will keep the account and try again in the US. If there’s more, I will close the account. I’ve never had issues with the small bank that has our main accounts. It started as a teachers credit union – so non-profit, all for benefit of members. They’re really good.

  2. Sorry no advice – never had a Citibank card – we used a debit card of our own bank when in Italy and was fine and a good exchange rate. Only use a credit card for expensive purchases so they are insured or when ordering on the internet.

  3. Oh gosh! On multiple levels. Firstly, I try not to look at my bank accounts at all while travelling – it wrecks the travel vibe haha. So relateable, that moment when you have to pay and not sure if you’re in the red or black temporarily. Especially with the Exchange rate from Australia…you just have to run with it. Everything is so expensive that in the past, I literally have not added up a single cent of my trips. I’m thinking of itemising the New Zealand one out of interest though.

    How scary to not be able to access the Citibank card. I think you should look at ING. They refund overseas ATM access charges and the same within Australia. I tried to use my ING card everywhere in New Zealand so I’ll actually go back over the statements and see if it was as good as advertised.

    • I think I’m cancelling the MasterCard and not opening another account. Will keep my industry bank account. It started as a credit union and has served me well. And it has ethical investment.

      Yep, horrid to look at costs! I don’t care about what we spent in France two years ago and won’t care about this trip’s expenses in two years.

  4. I bank with ING (mortgage and cash card) and liked them on recent trips as there’s fee free transactions for international purchases. Any time I think some vendor is dodgy, I used my credit card (limit of $3k), or, cash. I used the ING card to get cash out, usually in larger lump sums, so minimise ATM fees.

    I also trust my gut on budget and spending… I tend to know how I’m tracking

  5. It’s a sensible idea to have the separate cards, it’s just a shame it didn’t quite work out this time. I have really enjoyed reading your posts about your trip; it sounds like a pretty special one!

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  7. Rom has one bank account left in the UK and occasionally uses it when we travel there. It became harder and harder to access – the card expired and he had to get a new one in the mail, then they sent him a code generator, and now he can’t access the account without a UK cell phone number to which they send a code by text! It is hard to access either for cash at ATMs or online. Sooner or later he’ll have to give it up.

    I found that my credit card (Visa) charges a very low markup on currency exchange, to my surprise.

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