Travel Tips for Debit and Credit Card Holders

Travel season is in full swing. You may have heard of some people having difficulty using magnetic strip debit and credit cards abroad now that Europe and Canada have switched to a chip card. Chip cards, also called EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) or IC (integrated circuit) cards are common overseas, and overseas checkout machines are tailored to these types of cards. In predominantly chip card regions, merchants may hesitate to accept magnetic strip cards or not understand how to process them. Here are a few ways to help minimize problems when traveling to chip card-dominated regions with bank debit and credit cards.

Before Travel

  1. Notify Bell State Bank & Trust before traveling internationally.
    • It’s helpful to call us before you travel to let us know where you are headed and the dates which you will be traveling. This will help ensure that legitimate purchases are approved. Be sure to tell us the names of all cardholders who are traveling to ensure we modify each individual card that will be used internationally.
    • Review the expiration date of your card(s) and inquire about daily limits or cash withdrawal limitations. For debit card limit increases, call our customer service department at 701-298-1550. For credit card limit increases, call Elan customer service at 800-252-5354.
    • Ensure your contact information (address, home phone number, cell phone number, etc.) on file with us is current. This will make it easier for us to contact you if necessary.
  2. Ensure your debit or credit card is ready for use.
    • It is important to make sure your card is activated. Using your debit card may help to easily obtain cash from local ATMs while traveling. Bell State Bank & Trust’s Visa debit card can be used at approximately 1.7 million Visa and PLUS ATMs worldwide.
    • Memorize your PIN, never write your PIN on your actual card. You may also stop into any Bell State Bank & Trust location to customize your PIN to a number of your choice, which may be easier to remember.
  3. Travel with more than one method to obtain cash or make purchases.
    • Other options available: debit card, credit card, Visa Travel card, or cash (Visa gift cards cannot be used internationally.)
      • If using other debit or credit cards, notify the card provider of your travel plans.
      • You may apply for a Visa Travel card by stopping in any of our Bell State Bank & Trust locations. The card will be mailed directly to your address and takes approximately 7-10 business days to arrive.
      • Foreign currency is available by ordering 3-5 days in advance of your departure. You may arrange for the currency to be picked up at the location most convenient for you.
  4. Be prepared.
    • Keep a record of your card numbers and the customer service “lost or stolen” card phone number (indicated on the back of your card). Keep this information separate from your wallet or purse in case your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.
    • To report a lost or stolen checkbook or ATM & debit card, call 701-298-1550 or toll-free 800-450-8949.
    • To report a lost or stolen credit card, contact Elan Financial Services at 800-558-3424.

During Travel

  1. You may encounter issues at the checkout.
    • In some countries (particularly in Europe), merchants may be more familiar with accepting EMV chip cards (cards with an embedded chip) than magnetic-strip cards.
    • In countries that have adopted chip technology, international visitors may continue to use their non-chip enabled cards; most chip terminals will recognize and process a magnetic-strip card.
    • If you encounter a merchant who is hesitant to accept a non-chip card for payment, you should try and encourage the merchant to swipe the magnetic-strip card through the terminal and follow the terminal prompts to complete the transaction.
    • If you are using an unattended rail ticket kiosk, or an automated fuel dispenser that does not recognize non-chip cards, present the card to an attendant or agent (e.g., at a ticket window).
    • If, for some reason, you are unable to use your Visa debit or credit card to make a purchase at a merchant location, you should be able to obtain cash from a local ATM.
      • When you use your card at a merchant or ATM that settles in currency other than U.S. dollars, the charge will be converted into the U.S. dollar amount. The conversion rate used is either a rate selected by Visa from a range of rates available in wholesale currency markets, or the government mandated rate.
      • Visa USA charges a .8% International Service fee on all international transactions regardless of whether there is a currency conversion. If there is a currency conversion, the International Service fee is 1% of the transaction amount.
      • Bell State Bank & Trust automatic ATM fee refund is for domestic ATM transactions only and is not offered for international ATM transactions.
  2. Problems or Concerns.
    • Please contact Bell State Bank & Trust by dialing the phone number printed on the back of your debit card. You may also contact Visa Global Customer Assistance Services (visit to locate the toll-free number appropriate for the country in which you are traveling in).
    • Upon your return, it is recommended that you review your statements carefully and contact us immediately if you see any suspicious or incorrect charges.

Money Pass Can Save You Money

Don’t forget about MoneyPass® when you’re traveling! All Bell State Bank & Trust personal and business debit card customers receive automatic refunds of the first 4 domestic ATM fees on their monthly bank statements. Now, customers can also use any of the 26,000 MoneyPass ATM machines across the country surcharge-free!

MoneyPass ATMs are easy to find:

  • Look for the MoneyPass symbol at the ATM
  • Go to to locate an ATM
  • Download the MoneyPass ATM app locator on your smartphone

Should you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact the Bell State Bank & Trust Customer Service Call Center at 800-450-8949 for further assistance.

Bell State Bank & Trust Customer Service Call Center hours: 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. central standard time, 7 days a week.

10 Responses to this post...

  • Fran Dexter on Jul 30, 2013 at 6:07 am #

    Very useful information for the traveler.

  • jlarson on Aug 21, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Thank you for your comment, Fran! We hope these tips help everyone traveling.

  • Jonathan on Sep 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    I wish there was more info about foreign currency. I remember trying to get some paper money to go to Canada, but it had to be over $50. This is fine, but I wish I would have known more about this policy beforehand.

  • jlarson on Sep 10, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Jonathan, thank you for your question. At Bell State Bank & Trust, we do not have a minimum for the purpose of Canadian funds. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call our Customer Service Department at 701-298-1550.

  • Sandy on Oct 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    It’s been a few years since, but does Bell State still offer reimbursement of some of the foreign ATM fees if I bring in my ATM receipt or has that changed since I last used a foreign ATM many years ago?

  • jlarson on Oct 24, 2013 at 8:15 am #


    Thank you for your question. We automatically refund your first 4 domestic ATM fees on your monthly bank statement (an average of one a week). We no longer refund foreign ATMs. Now, you also receive unlimited FREE withdrawals at 26,000 Money Pass ATMs nationwide (just look for the MoneyPass logo, or download the free MoneyPass locator app). You can use your Bell State Bank & Trust ATM & Debit Card free at Bell State Bank & Trust locations.

  • N Paul on Jul 18, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    I’m travelling to UK and France this summer. What charges can I expect if I use my Bell Bank ATM card for withdrawals? How do you determine the exchange rates?

  • Bell State Bank & Trust on Jul 20, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    These are really good questions. When you are traveling outside of the United States, Visa charges an International Service Assessment of 1% of the transaction when it includes a currency conversion. If you are making withdrawals at foreign ATMs, you would also be charged any ATM fees, as those are not included in our automatic monthly ATM refunds. As far as the exchange rate, those are determined by Visa at the time of your transaction. Bell State Bank & Trust does not add any additional surcharge fees to your transactions. If you have any further questions, we recommend contacting us at 800-450-8949. We are available to assist you from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., 7 days a week.

  • Laura on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:28 pm #

    This has been a helpful site. I referred to it before a previous trip and now am reviewing before a trip to France. The above comment gave me a jump start on that research. Thanks! Do you happen to have published online the details about purchasing foreign currency before the trip? I may wait until I arrive in Europe, but I thought I would review your policy to know my options. I remember that it must be done at the main office in town. I also remember something about a fee up to a certain amount of currency but not above it (or vice versa). Would you please refresh my memory or point me in the direction of where I can read about it? And thanks again for great service. I continue to enjoy having my Bell State Bank account and traveling with my debit card. I will continue to use a bank whose card does not add surcharges to my int’l transactions.

  • Bell State Bank & Trust on Aug 20, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    Laura, we are glad you found that site useful as you plan for your next trip. We do still have euros available at our main Fargo location on 13th Ave. It is only a $5 fee to purchase Euro currency. We do recommend getting your foreign currency a week before you need it just in case we need to place a special order for your needs. If you have further questions, please contact your local branch and request to speak with one of the tellers.

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