Portugal’s ATM network is being replaced, little by little, with new Euronet machines which charge high fees and commissions without informing customers what is going on.
These foreign interlopers are springing up across the country and now can be found in most high footfall tourist areas.
While normal ATMs do not charge customers who take out money, the machines from Euronet Worldwide charge for withdrawals.
The consumer is not warned of the cost and is given no clue at all that a fee has been charged. Unsurprisingly, this issue already has led to a number of complaints filed in the Complaint Portal but the company operates from the US, so good luck with that...
Portugal’s traditional ATMs, managed by SIBS, are being replaced by this insidious foreign network whose machines are programmed to treat a cash withdrawal by debit card as if it was a cash advances using a credit card – and then to charge a stiff fee.
This is because a Euronet Worldwide machine assumes everyone is making withdrawals from outside their own country, so it can charge fees without warning.
"For those who use the same card for both credit and debit functions, it is never a good idea to do ATM withdrawals from a foreign network because it is subject to payment of commissions for 'cash advance', that is, you are raising money from the credit limit which is charged for on any network because it is an operation subject to interest rates and commissions and which, as a rule, includes a fixed amount per transaction and a percentage over the amount raised. This does not happen if you go to an establishment because, in this case, the merchant asks if you want to pay with the credit or debit function,” reveals an insider.
Not all consumers are aware of the deliberate ruse and the resulting fees, until later on when they notice they have been stiffed.
According to a SOL news report, a customer withdrawing €200 from a Euronet Worldwide cash machine will be charged €15 for the privilege. A €50 withdrawal will cost €6.24 and a commission of €3.95 is paid on a €20 withdrawal.
Contacted by SOL newspaper, the Bank Of Portugal guaranteed that current legislation (Decree-Law no. 3/2010) prohibits credit institutions from charging commissions for carrying out automatic teller machine operations, namely debit, deposit and payment of services.
“Cash withdrawals made in ATMs located in Portugal are subject to the same regulatory framework regardless of the network to which they belong: ATM, ATM Express or Euronet,” stated the Bank of Portugal which later admitted that none of these fancy laws cover the charging of commissions for carrying out cash withdrawals with a credit card.
Still, the regulator says that "cash advance commissions must be previously disclosed to each bank client by the institution granting the credit, in particular through price lists, allowing the cardholder to know in advance the amounts that may be charged to him for that card.”
This is not happening and the Bank of Portugal will have known about this problem since May 2015 when the first Euronet machines began to appear in Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve, all tourist hotspots where the machines do not allow withdrawals of less than €20.
There is a gap in the market for well-positioned ATMs as many sites became empty during the austerity years due to bank closures. Euronet has been bagging the best locations, it can afford to due to its eye-watering charges, mostly paid by foreign visitors who withdrew €1.9 billion last year plus fees and at appalling exchange rates in from outside the Eurozone.
Euronet is operated from Leawood in Kansas when Dan Henry and Michael J. Brown oversees 5,600 employees intent on providing a deliberately confusing and financially punishing service.
Advice to consumers, do not insert card. Even hitting 'decline conversion rate' will trigger a transaction, these machines are programmed to decieve