• It's getting easier to obtain money from a machine in Europe. The Swiss Postal Service and Visa now offer Visa card holders access to 570 Postomats (ATMs) throughout Switzerland.
You can withdraw up to 1000 Sfr. ($676) per day anywhere in Switzerland, 24 hours a day. The Postomat cash dispenser network covers all towns and major localities nationwide. Make sure you have a four digit pin number.
• While it may be getting easier to get money from a European ATM it's not getting any cheaper to use a credit card overseas. On the contrary. According to Consumer Reports Travel Newsletter, First USA Visa and MasterCard customers are now being hit with a 2% surcharge on all credit-card purchases made outside the USA. (Citibank card holders had already been paying the 2% gouge). This is in addition to the 1% currency conversion surcharge Visa and MasterCard are already passing on to customers.
This means, of course, that for every $1,000 in overseas credit card purchases cardholders will pay $30 to Visa or MasterCard. However, since they get their bank's foreign currency exchange rate when making overseas purchases, it still is cheaper to use credit cards. You can't change $1,000 into foreign currency for less than $30. The banks know this; hence the new charges. Providian Bank in San Francisco charges its Visa and MasterCard holders a whopping 5%
American Express and Diners Club continue to charge just 1%.
• Here's a rundown on Switzerland's major summer festivals:
June 26 to July 18
Started three years ago, the Züricher Festspiele presents a wide variety of cultural events including opera, chamber music, choral works, Shakespearean theater, ballet and even tango. Tel. +41/01/269 90 90, fax 269 70 25.
Montreux Jazz Festival
July 2 to 17
One of Switzerland's top events presents the worlds best musicians in a great setting. Tel: +41/021/963 82 82. Web site: www.montreuxjazz.com
Verbier Festival & Academy
July 16 to August 1
Music Summer Gstaad-Saanenland
July 16 to September 4
Vevey Festival of the Winegrowers
July 29 to August 15
Locarno International Film Festival
August 4 to 14
Lucerne International Music Festival
August 14 to September 11
Berne Dance Festival
August 27 to September 11
Blues to Bop & Worldmusic Festival
Lugano, September 2 - 5