Despite a decline in tourism in 2014, Ukraine still remains a destination for many. The drop in the hryvnia (the local currency) has made the country an...
Although Ukraine’s international visitor numbers have dropped significantly in recent years, it’s still a popular place for travellers from some countries in the region, and the cities are home to many expats who live and work there. If you’re looking for an adventurous holiday in a country that remains largely undiscovered by tourists coming from outside of Eastern Europe, it could be your perfect destination.
Whatever your reason for visiting, you’ll need some cash to pay for everything you need while you’re there. For many travellers, using local ATMs is convenient, and means you can get the money you need when you need it.
If you’re planning on using ATMs to withdraw currency in Ukraine, here’s all you need to know.
ATMs are common in Ukraine, in or near bank branches, in shopping areas and public facilities like railway stations.¹ Once you get out into the countryside you’ll find it a little trickier to locate an ATM, so make sure you have plenty of cash with you if you’re off to somewhere more rural.
To find a convenient ATM, use these ATM locators for local and global banks:
- Raiffeisen Bank ATM locator
- Ukrgasbank ATM locator
- Alfa Bank ATM locator
- Ukrsibbank (BNP Paribas Group) ATM locator
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted networks in Ukraine. Amex cards aren’t accepted in many places - and there are only a handful of ATMs which accept Amex in the whole country.³ Check out the locator tool below to find the nearest ATM to you that’ll work on the Amex network. Discover cards aren’t accepted at all, by ATMs or merchants, so you’ll need an alternative if this is your main card.²
Find a handy ATM to suit your needs using one of the following locators:
- Maestro ATM locator
- Mastercard and Cirrus ATM locator
- Visa, Plus, and Plus Alliance ATM locator
- Discover ATM locator
- American Express ATM locator
To withdraw cash from an ATM in Ukraine you usually need to know your PIN number. If you have an American issued magnetic strip card, then you can get your PIN for the card from your bank before you leave.
There are a couple of things which will decide how much money you can withdraw from an ATM in Ukraine, either per transaction or per day. Firstly you need to know your own bank’s limits. These are often set automatically but you can change them if you need to before you travel.
If you don’t have a limit set by your home bank then you’ll find the local bank or ATM operator’s maximum cash withdrawal levels are applied instead. The limit will be around UAH3,000 to UAH3,500 in many banks, although you might be able to perform several transactions using the same card and ATM should you need more.
If you’re travelling to Ukraine soon then it’s worth telling your bank about your plans. You can often do this online with a simple form, or by calling into a branch.
If your bank doesn’t know you’ll be travelling then you might encounter problems, as bank fraud departments monitor transactions and tend to be wary about sudden card usage overseas. In the case of Ukraine, because there have been issues involving fraud and card scams in the past, you could find your bank’s fraud department are especially concerned by a sudden spike of spending in Ukraine. The bank could block or limit your account if there’s any suggestion that your card has been stolen or fraudulently used abroad - leaving you without cash or any means of payment.
Most people using a foreign debit or credit card in Ukraine will have to pay a fee to use the ATMs there.
Here are the fees - and scams - to watch out for if you use your foreign card in an ATM in Ukraine.
One thing to watch out for is dynamic currency conversion (also called DCC). It sounds harmless enough but is actually a very common rip off for travellers using a bank card abroad.
DCC is where you’re asked if you want to pay for a transaction in your home currency instead of the local one.
Banks sell this as a service for travellers struggling to navigate a new and confusing currency. However, the exchange rate used is often not the real, mid-market rate, which you’d find on google. Instead, the rate used for DCC transactions is marked up by the ATM provider or merchant, who then pocket the difference. They make a good profit, but you pay more than you need to. Don’t fall for it - just pay in the local currency instead.
There’s a good chance your own bank will charge you to access your money through an ATM abroad. Fees will be listed in the terms and conditions of your account and are usually called something like ‘international cash withdrawal fees’ or something similar. Check out the details for your specific account before using an ATM abroad.
Some of the banks you’ll see in Ukraine are part of familiar regional or global brands, such as BNP Paribas and Raiffeisen, which operate throughout the area. If you already bank with one of these large organisations, your account might allow cheap or fee-free withdrawals, if you stick to their ATMs. If not, you are likely to be charged a fee by the local bank, or ATM provider for the use of the ATM.
Before you leave, ask your home bank if they have a partner institution based in Ukraine.
It’s possible that your usual bank will work with another brand in Ukraine to offer customers free or reduced fee cash withdrawals, from specific ATMs. This could help you dodge some of the worst of the international ATM fees out there, and save you money.
Here are a few simple ideas to reduce ATM fees in Ukraine.
Many people choose to hold bank cards with several local institutions. If you have more than one credit or debit card then it’s worth checking out which offers the best deal for overseas cash withdrawals.
International ATM withdrawal fees vary widely, so you could pay less simply by choosing the card with the best terms for overseas use. And if you have more time, you could even open a new account specifically for travel, with the bank which offers the best deal for your needs.
Above all, watch out for DCC. It’s an entirely avoidable expense for travellers using a foreign credit or debit card at ATMs. Don’t hand your hard earned cash to a foreign bank - avoid DCC’s high fees and poor exchange rates by choosing to pay in the local currency.
You might be able to save even more if you transfer some cash to a local bank account before your trip. You can then withdraw cash from the local account using fee-free ATMs, and shouldn’t get hit by international withdrawal fees at all.
If you or someone you know have a local bank account in Ukraine, check out Wise to make your international money transfer. Because Wise only uses the real, mid-market exchange rate for transfers, with just a small fee per transaction, you could end up with even more money in your pocket for your trip, if you do your international money transfer with Wise.
Using ATMs in Ukraine is a convenient choice for travellers - and as long as you’re careful about DCC, the fees are usually relatively fair. Alternatively, why not give Wise a try. Send money to a local account, and avoid international ATM fees altogether.
https://www.thebasetrip.com/en/ukraine-atms (March 12 2018)
https://www.discover.com/credit-cards/help-center/account/international-use.html (March 12 2018)
https://network.americanexpress.com/globalnetwork/atm_locator/en/#search/48.379433/31.16557990000001 (March 12 2018)
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.