Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Hustle

Went to the local branch of a large national bank today. Had college kid in tow.

She's off to another continent for a few months and we chatted with the Branch Manager about her preparedness. As I predicted to her (fruitlessly) the Bank did not have Euros in the vault and could not get them until long after she departs.

(Old fart 1, kid 0.)

Then we got The Hustle. It was pretty clear, even to the college kid, that this was....

...well, read on:

The Branch Manager pulled out the mental script and launched into a "what about an emergency?" line--in case she was unable to utilize her debit card while overseas---

His solution: a friggin CREDIT card! (Low, low, low introductory rate of a bazillion percent, plus...)


Would the Bank's debit card fail to operate overseas? Did he expect her to over-spend her (rather fat) account balance? Did Western Union go out of business yesterday? Are all the US ambassadorial offices in Europe closed until Christmas? Does the College Kid have NO friends with 50 Euros to spare? Will the Russkis execute another DDOS attack on the Bank network on the Continent?

Daddy waved him off, a bit forcefully, with a reference to the people who would be overseeing College Kid in Europe--competent, professional, years-over-there, yada yada.

Not deterred by that, the Branch Manager (maybe 29 years old) then pulled out Line Two: if she didn't have a credit card, she would not have a credit record, and likely wouldn't get a job after graduation because, after all, employers check credit records, and without one, she'll wind up sweeping coal-dust in some Public Works Project and be subject to a life approximating that of Oliver Twist, never well-shod nor well-groomed, and likely without running hot water in the walkup flat or Rescue Mission she's destined for.

I do not exaggerate (much.)

This 29-year-old twit was working on selling a credit-card to someone who simply doesn't need one--and drawing up fictitious scenarios about her Future Without a Responsible Job.

So happens I have some credentials on the topic of employment (I actually had jobs) and employment practices. I felt like reaching out and slapping the piss out of this twit--hard. First, for thinking that he was talking to a typical suburban dumb-chick--but even more, for thinking that the Old Fart in attendance was a box-of-rocks recently fallen from the loft in the hay-barn. Hey, fella! State Fair ended two weeks ago!!

The junior officer standing by was embarrassed, to say the least...

The Bank did not cover itself in glory, folks.

But that Branch Manager has a future in politics--or maybe at the State Fair, selling knives or mops, or wonder-chamois-cloths.

And the College Kid left without a credit card.

(Old Fart 2, kidz 0)


Anonymous said...

Sorry to go anony on this one. You may wish to try calling US Bank downtown. Many of the banks run their currency transactions through them. A note on the debit cards. A lot of banks have their cards set not to allow ATM use out of Spain and other European countries due to fraud issues. I can't speak to CC, but I would let the bank know that the debit card will be abroad.

The Digital Hairshirt said...


I have used my ATM card without a hitch in Europe, and found it convenient and a good exchange rate. As the poster above said, just let the bank know to expect overseas debits.

Anonymous said...

Go to AAA. You can get Euros through them. 124th and North.

Anonymous said...

M&I downtown has Euro's for sale. I know 'cause I bought some at a premium then sold 'em back at a discount!

And anonymous is correct in suggesting College Kid notify his/her bank that the debit card will be used copiously in a foreign land. Notification should be complete with the country and dates for maximum protection.

Dad29 said...

Thanks, all.

As I stated, the college staff is very competent. College Kid advised card-people of trip, dates, locations, etc.

And yah, M&I has Euros in stock--which I knew. But a certain College Kid delayed asking questions until....too late.

Ah, well.

Amy said...

A lot of banks have their cards set not to allow ATM use out of Spain and other European countries due to fraud issues.

Yeah. My mom had her DEBIT card used at an ATM in Bilbao, Spain. How the heck they got her PIN, we'll never know.

So they work.

Dad - this post was hilarious. Thanks for my afternoon laugh.

Phelony Jones said...

ATM card definitely has the best rate. May want to consider pin changes from time to time to ensure security. Europe does have good data privacy/protection measures (actually more strict than the US). Which doesn't guarantee data safety but good to know.

I have a bag of Euro change if she would like to take it with her.

Anonymous said...

You really don't need euros before you go. Just get 'em once you're there. I'm in Europe (a lot) and have never had an issue with a debit card that couldn't be resolved with a quick call to a US 800 number. That said, if she's going to be over there for any length of time (say, over three months), it might be worth her looking into establishing a small account with a local bank, particularly given the lousy exchange rate these days. Requirements for doing such a thing vary wildly, but if it can be done, it's very convenient.

Just my 2¢...

3rd Way said...

Starting your credit history in college is not a bad idea, running up balances on those cards is. If your daughter needs a car loan when she graduates she will appreciate those extra couple points on her credit report for being a responsible credit card holder throughout her college years.

Using your debit card at ATM's is the best way to get Euros. If she doesn't have a credit card I would recommend that your daughter brings along a spare (unactivated) debit card. When I was living in Europe a rogue ATM machine confiscated my card for a reason unknown to me (I may have put in the wrong pin or something). The machine wouldn't give me my card back and I was left without anyway to get money. I bummed some cash from friends, but had to use my credit card a couple of times until my bank could mail me a replacement card.

(just wanted to throw in my 2/100th's of a Euro)

Dad29 said...

Thanks, all, for the ideas and offers!

College Kid departed this AM.

The M&I Branch in the airport has Euros!!--so she picked up what she should need for the first month or so, anyway.