As missionaries we sometimes need to pay cash for items that we could easily buy with our credit/debit card or check in the US. So, it’s not uncommon for us to withdraw large amounts of cash using an ATM to pay for capital items. At times we’ve had difficulties taking out as much cash as we need, so we’ve planned our ATM withdrawals with that in mind.
The reality is that there are limits involved with ATM cash withdrawals, but with some knowledge, trial and error, there are still ways to get the cash you need.
One limit is the daily limit on withdrawals allowed by your bank. For example, ECCU’s standard daily (24hr) ATM limit for withdrawals is $1010 USD, or the available balance (whichever’s lower), and for POS (point of sale) withdrawals, it’s $2500 USD. Another limit is the local limit, this can be either daily or per transaction, imposed by the local bank whose ATM machine you are using. You need to keep these limits in mind when making a large total withdrawal.
We’ve found in our host country that we can withdraw about $600 USD at a time from any ATM. Often ATM limits can be per transaction, per ATM or per bank, so if you need more than what you are allowed to withdraw, it may work to try another transaction immediately at the same ATM. If that doesn’t work, try a different ATM, or a different bank location. You might have to visit multiple bank ATMs to make all the withdrawals you need.
Sometimes, there are daily withdrawal limits within the host country. In our host country, banks have failed several times, creating a run on the banks. So, in order to avoid that possibility again, the country created nationwide limits on daily withdrawals. For example, we can take about $375 per day every day with no problem. But if we withdraw the $600 ATM limit, then we are unable to do another withdrawal at any ATM for at least 48 hours. So, preplanning is essential for us.
You might also find having an additional account at a bank in the host country allows you to withdraw more at an ATM if you have funds in that bank. You should inquire about ATM limits at any bank where you plan to open an account.
It might take some research and experimentation to find out what ATM limits you need to prepare for. If you wait until the last minute to withdraw a large amount of cash, you might find that it’s not possible to do so in a timely manner. In some cases and in some countries you can go inside the bank to get a cash advance at the counter using your credit/debit card and pay a high fee for the privilege. Understanding what ATM limits you face, and planning in advance for multiple withdrawals makes overseas banking easier.
About Cindy Martin:
Cindy and her husband Bill minister as Bible school and seminary teachers in Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. Cindy served as CFO at a Bible school in Latvia, and has always been interested in personal finances, especially accounting and IRS reporting. The Martins also teach at the Indian Bible College in Flagstaff, AZ. Before they began cross-cultural ministry, they served as pastors of Bethel Bible Church in Evergreen Park, IL for 9 years.
Bill & Cindy have four children, Ben, Beth, DeeAnna & Hannah.