If you want to avoid paying ATM fees in Albania you need to be selective about which banks you use.
Even if your own bank hits you with fees, there’s no need to let greedy Albanian banks charge you extra money on top.
I lived in Albania for two months and have discovered most of the banks want to charge extra fees. Some of the ATMs warn you about it. They detail the fees involved and ask if you want to proceed. That’s okay. It gives you the chance to retrieve your card and walk away. However, not all banks warn you. Some just add an extra fee on top and you know nothing about it until you check your statement. That’s wrong. Actually, it’s worse than wrong. It stinks.
When I first arrived in Albania I used the first machine I could find. It was very close to the ferry terminal in Saranda. The ATM added fees. I was not happy about it but I needed some cash to get a new SIM card for my phone. I’d heard many establishments don’t accept cards in Albania, so I wanted some quick cash.
A couple of days later, I tried making a withdrawal from an ATM outside a Credins bank. It didn’t add any extra charges at all. After that, I stuck to that bank as much as I could.
So, if you want to avoid paying ATM fees in Albania, use the machines provided by Credins bank.
There may be other options, but I never found them.
About a week before I was due to leave Albania, the ATM outside my usual Credins bank wasn’t working. I went to an ATM provided by Raiffeisen Bank and tried it instead. Towards the end of the transaction, the ATM warned me there would be a 700 Lek fee (€5.67) and asked if I was happy to proceed. I wasn’t happy at all so I cancelled the transaction.
I was in a shopping centre at the time, so I tried the machine next to it. Unfortunately, I can’t remember which bank it was but the ATM was not as honest as its neighbour. I don’t recall seeing any warning at all. I withdrew 10,000 Lek and when I checked my account It said I’d withdrawn 10,450 Lek. The ATM had added a sneaky 450 Lek (€3.65) charge on top.
So, if you are visiting Albania and want to avoid being hit by any unexpected ATM withdrawal fees, Credins is probably the best bank to use. Things may change in the future but in April 2019 Credins Bank was not adding any extra or hidden ATM fees.
If your own bank normally charges you foreign transaction fees for withdrawing cash or using your cards abroad, it’s possible to avoid those fees too by opening a TransferWise Multi-Currency Account and getting a TransferWise debit card. I’ve had a card for around a year now and it’s saved me a fortune in bank fees. If this may help you, you can get an idea of how much money you can save HERE.