Ah, it is not only the foreign exchange rate. I don't know where your bank is, but in the case of most of US banks which are in the Visa network, Visa will charge you a foreign exchange fee of around 2%, plus ATMs here are charging a hefty RD$160-189 per withdrawal. Still, better pay those fees than carry a lot of cash on you. Use an ATM at a bank only and preferably one that lets you swipe your card and returns it.
I reccomend two things:
1. Use and ATM that is physically attached to a bank here during banking hours. So if a problem maybe it can be fixed right then.
2. Notify your home bank of your travel plans. If not they will put a hold on your card with the first use fearing fraud.
I personally Bank with Popular and Asociacion Cibao but have used my Visa at pretty much every named bank with an ATM on the inside of the building. By far I received the best exchange rates and ATM fee with Asociacion Cibao.
The rest charged an arm and a leg...................
I've all but given up on using my UK ATM card in the DR. I use it once a month - if that - in the same ATM machine, the same amount, and it always gets blocked. I have to phone them to unblock it, I make my withdrawal and then the following month - rinse and repeat.
yes, the fees are high. As far as having your account drained its possible. Happened twice to me in six years. Its no big deal you just tell the bank and they make it good. At least US banks. One time it was at Banco Popular and it was an inside job with a bank employee. Other time was an outside atm. Just watch your balance so if it happens you tell the bank quickly.
The "Casa De Cambio",is your friend!!
Get to know the owner!
You can cash your personal check,for a good rate,and no fees.
I bought my house with cash from the casa de cambio I use,and have used for over 20 years.
As far as ATM goes,I have been "Ripped Off" several times,but got the money back from my Boston bank,BUT,the "paper Work" was a pain in the A$$!
That "Double Billing" is very common.
Happened to me at "Vesuvios",and "Papa la Pasta"!
just used my card at Scotiabank in the Zona Colonial. (I have Bank of America in the US)
RD$2900 withdrawal= Bank of America debits my account $74.45 with no fees from either bank. Effective rate 38.95
Immediately made a second withdrawal of RD$1900 ( I wanted a lot of small notes) = Bank of America debits my account $48.78 with no fees from either bank Effective rate the same 38.95