An oldie but a goodie…

I was feeling reflective and went back to read some journal entries from the beginning of my aliyah experience. I thought I’d share one I’d almost forgotten about…

To preface — I had attempted to withdraw cash for the first time at the ATM located inside the bank I bank with. Israeli banks assign PIN numbers and don’t let you choose your own so I just couldn’t remember it. After 3 wrong tries, the card was taken from me. And so begins the saga of getting it back…


I woke up early and went to the bank. I needed to get my ATM card back before the weekend. The ATM that took my card is located inside my branch. I walked in and waited. And waited. Not too long of a wait…but just long enough. I finally had my turn and I asked the guy for my card.

“Why did the caspomat (ATM) take your card?” he asked.

“I forgot my PIN,” I replied sheepishly. I then asked him if I could choose my own PIN so I can remember it. He laughed and said “No” with a hint of “Duh.”

And then he went on to tell me that it will take a week to get the card back. Why? Because the ATM in the branch sends the card to Tel Aviv and then it comes back. Why? Why not?

The stupid card doesn’t even work all the time. It’s like a starter check. They want you to think you can use it but it has a stamp on it that tells everyone that it’s the most basic, starter card in the world. It got denied at Max Brenner’s Chocolate Shop when the bill was only 60 shekels. So I asked the guy how many shekels I have to deposit to get a “real” card.

“What do you mean by real card?”

“You know what I mean. A real Visa card that is really accepted everywhere,” I replied.

“Five thousand shekels,” he replied.

“And how long would it take to get that card if I deposited 5000 shekels?” I asked.

“A week.”

So yeah. I have to give them money to give me credit. And I have to wait a week to get it. I kind of understand the whole “deposit” thing since I have no credit in this country but still…if they HAVE all my money in my account and they can see that I have enough money to cover a low line of credit, then why should it matter?

5 Responses to An oldie but a goodie…

  1. Liron Newman says:

    Reading this, I wonder, do you really want answers? Well, you’re gonna get ’em anyway!

    1. If the bank would let people choose their own PIN numbers, they would all be like 0000 or 1234. Then people would get their money stolen due to their stupidity. The bank is guarding them, and barasmi, remembering a 4-digit number isn’t so hard, you just need to use it often. 🙂

    2. You’re probably referring to something like Visa Electron, the card that’s flat (So you can’t לגהץ with it). Anyway, to get a “real” card you need to put down a deposit that you *can’t* withdraw, so they know it stays there. Otherwise, what’s stopping you from giving them some money, getting a card, taking the money away, and then getting into debt? Also, your being able to part (temporarily) with 5000 shekels is proof that you’re (at least partially) financially stable.

    And I don’t see what’s weird about waiting a week. I mean, yeah, it’s a bit long, but it’s not as if they have a machine in the back that prints these cards. They have to make an order to Cal or Leumi Card (If you want a Visa, that’s the two Israeli Visa franchises, or whatever that’s called), then they make the card, then they send it to your bank so you can pick it up. That whole process could take, say, a day or less, I guess, but you don’t expect them to send a messenger for every singe card they issue… I assume that if you want one really fast, you can pay extra and get it. Or maybe that service is only reserved for Gold cards and stuff. Who knows (The guys at the bank, yeah). I don’t mind the waiting enough to find out. 🙂

  2. Well then what about the fact that you get your card after one week and then have to go back several days later for the PIN number. Because they can’t arrive together, you know.

    And your whole thing about picking your own PIN number is bogus. If someone is dumb enough to choose 0000 or 1234, then they deserve to have their money stolen. A PIN number is a PERSONAL identification number…something you identify with PERSONALLY. So I should be able to pick it.

  3. Liron Newman says:

    Then your bank sucks! I always got the PIN with the card… Don’t know what to say. 🙂

    And about choosing it yourself – Israel is a land of mistrust. That is part of the culture, like it or not (I kinda don’t). Banks think, no, *know*, that if they let you choose the code, and it’ll suck, and you get your money stolen, you’ll blame them, and then they’ll have to defend themselves in court, and in the Israeli court system, even if the claim against you is denied, the expenses you get almost never cover the lawyer’s fee.

    You could say they’re screwing the responsible people, but they’re doing it to protect the 99% stupid, irresponsible people. And themselves. I can’t blame them… And come on, remembering 4 digits? That is a totally reasonable request. Especially when contrasted with most of their other requests…

  4. thejook says:

    If your card gets stolen, you’re generally liable for a set amount ($100) of purchases after which point the merchants are liable. If somebody stole your PIN, they’d be able to withdraw whatever the maximum was for that day and no more. This is true for any bank in any country, and whether Israelis “blame” the banks or not doesn’t really matter. This is just a case of bad customer service — you don’t even need a PIN for most cards to really do damage. Just charge up a bunch of stuff; most ATM cards work as a credit card.

  5. Jessie says:


    I Googled for something completely different, but found your page…and have to say thanks. nice read.

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