Jerusalem’s “ATM” Rip-off
We were arranging for a tour of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, and needed cash. In the old city and surrounding areas, no matter how hard we looked, the only ATMs we could find were store owned rather than bank owned. Most of these allowed 300 Sheqels with a fee of 6.9 Sheqels which was high. We found an ATM near the tunnels in our walk to Al Aqsa which was 400 Sheqels with 6.9 Sheqels fee.
My husband then went up to one of the in person “ATM”‘s advertised everywhere as he wanted to withdraw about 1700 Sheqels. They had a fee of 80 Sheqels. No Luck.
One of the store ATMs had a sign to ask inside if you want to withdraw more. He went in and said he wanted 1700 Sheqels. They asked him to enter the PIN and gave him the cash. As soon as he came back and opened his receipt, he saw that he had been charged $550, not 1700 Sheqels he had expected. That’s almost 20% commission. After some argument and getting the hotel involved, we got a small amount back, but had still lost out on valuable cash. Husband was never made aware that he was going to be charged in $$$ at any point.
These shops essentially make a charge to your card, so it’s not a cash withdrawal, but as if you’ve used the card to purchase something.
The French couple we met during our trip realised that they had been similarly ripped of by about 200 Sheqels (£35), so it’s probably common practice. There is an true bank-owned ATM in the Jewish quarter which we subsequently used.
If you’re ever caught in this situation, a simpler solution would be to contact the nearest police to help avoid other visitors being ripped off!