Debit card fee error

On our trip to the Azores in spring 2006, in the town of Velas on the island of São Jorge I went one morning to withdraw money from the ATM at the local bank. The screen gave me a message that the machine was not, at the time, operative. Needing cash that day, I went inside the bank and asked the teller if I could withdraw money.

“Of course,” was the reply.

I had more than enough money in my account. I took the bank at their word that they would process the withdrawal just as if I were using their ATM. I showed my debit card (branded Visa but not a credit card or any combination of a credit/debit card). They copied down the numbers. I signed my name and showed my passport and was given the €200.

When I later received my bank statement, I saw that I been assessed various charges amounting to some $20. A call to my bank (PNC) confirmed what I thought: the withdrawal had been treated as a cash advance.

There had been no need to “advance” me money since my account held more than enough money and I just wanted to pull some out. I didn’t understand why the withdrawal, using my debit card, was handled as a cash advance by the teller when a withdrawal from the ATM would have been handled just as a withdrawal. I’ve never used a cash advance in my entire life (age 77).

Fortunately, when I explained the matter, my bank was nice enough to cancel all of the charges, including even the conversion fees.


West Grove, PA