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Author Topic: best place to exchange dollars for euros  (Read 56353 times)
untenured
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« on: March 04, 2009, 2:14:17 pm »

I leave for Europe tomorrow.  I'd like to exchange dollars for euros.  What's the best place .. a bank, the exchange place at the airport, at my destination, or somewhere else?

Also, what are the fees for using a US credit card in Europe?

Thanks,

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wegie
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2009, 2:22:54 pm »

Airports usually have the worst rates, ditto those little exchange booths anywhere near a major tourist attraction.

Depending on your bank account, the cheapest way may just be to stick your ATM card into a hole in the wall once you get over here.
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canadatourismguy
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2009, 2:25:36 pm »

Use your credit card, usually the best rate.  If you need actual currency, go to a bank but fair warning, there is a strong possibility that your bank doesn't have Euro's around.  They usually have to order in the currency unless they deal with it all the time.

CTG
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On preview:  Candadiantourismguy is a subversive of the first order.
wegie
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2009, 2:32:20 pm »

Use your credit card, usually the best rate. 

Ah, but if you mean use the credit card whilst on this side of the pond, there are occasional chunks of Europe that don't play ball . . . and yes, Bavaria and rather a lot of the rest of Germany, I am looking at you when I say that!
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johnr
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2009, 2:34:32 pm »

Every credit card company has different fees (or sometimes no fees) for using your card internationally, so you'd have to check with your company specifically.  If you plan on going abroad often, it pays to shop for a card with low or no fees.  

Ditto the remark about using your debit card at an ATM once you are in Europe.  You will get the best exchange rate that way.

Make sure that you call your credit/debit card company before you leave and let them know that you will be traveling abroad.  Otherwise, they might flag your card for "unusual activity" when you try and use it in Europe.  

If you feel that you absolutely must have a few Euros before you go, then you really are at the mercy of the money-exchangers.  Cash in fifty or so at the airport (you will get ripped off) and then find an ATM as soon as possible once you are in Europe.
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dalekk
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2009, 2:37:28 pm »

My bank will exchange currency free of charge to me as a customer.  Free is obviously your best deal.  It has a few local branches that have currency exchange.  I normally go to two of those branches and do $250 to euros for $500 total before I leave.  I'm not sure what their limit is.  Call your bank.

Credit cards are easy to use.  They do have ridiculous fees now.  I think they charge something like 2 percent on every foreign transaction now.  You should find out the exact amounts, so they don't completely screw you.  I bet credit cards are still cheaper than exchange places in Europe.

My suggestion is to get as many euros as you can from your bank for free (if you're lucky), and then use the credit card judiciously.
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johnr
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2009, 3:18:45 pm »

My bank will exchange currency free of charge to me as a customer.  Free is obviously your best deal.  It has a few local branches that have currency exchange.  I normally go to two of those branches and do $250 to euros for $500 total before I leave.  I'm not sure what their limit is.  Call your bank.


I wish my bank would do this.  I live 25 miles from the Canadian Border and my bank doesn't even carry Canadian money.  : (


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parispundit
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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2009, 4:19:47 pm »

The best exchange rate will be at any ATM, with any debit (not credit) card. The problem is how much your bank and the foreign bank will charge for the privilege. I use Bank of Internet, which charges nothing and refunds the first $8/month in other bank charges. I recommend their checking account for this reason, among others.
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johnr
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2009, 4:23:08 pm »

The best exchange rate will be at any ATM, with any debit (not credit) card. The problem is how much your bank and the foreign bank will charge for the privilege. I use Bank of Internet, which charges nothing and refunds the first $8/month in other bank charges. I recommend their checking account for this reason, among others.

Thanks for the tip.  My credit card company just started charging an international fee (the reason I went with them in the first place was because they didn't have any fee...sigh).   Living so close to the border, I "travel internationally" a couple of times a month at least, so it really adds up. 
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fwicgrad
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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2009, 4:29:29 pm »

Be sure to call your credit card company and tell them you are traveling outside the country before you go.  This is best done from your home phone number, the one they have in their file.  Otherwise your credit card may be refused!  I have had this happen to me.
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biologist_
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« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2009, 4:33:51 pm »

If you plan to rely on debit/credit cards, make sure you take several.  Sometimes the PIN or the card will be incompatible and you will have to use a different card or a different ATM.  Sometimes, your bank or credit card company will freeze your account due to suspicious activity, even though you called them ahead of time and told them where and when you would be traveling.  Have a backup plan.
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wegie
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« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2009, 8:22:45 pm »

If you plan to rely on debit/credit cards, make sure you take several.  Sometimes the PIN or the card will be incompatible and you will have to use a different card or a different ATM. 

Its only really the lands of the sausage eaters where that's a major problem any more (even if you're European, trying to do transactions there is a pain in the posterior). The rest of us are usually OK.

However, if your card doesn't work with a PIN for transactions other than an ATM, the number of places you can use it is growing ever smaller.

Sometimes, your bank or credit card company will freeze your account due to suspicious activity, even though you called them ahead of time and told them where and when you would be traveling.  Have a backup plan.

Oh yeah, make sure your mobile works here and can call home so that you can argue with your bank. <sigh>
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notaprof
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« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2009, 8:28:48 pm »

If you plan to rely on debit/credit cards, make sure you take several.  Sometimes the PIN or the card will be incompatible and you will have to use a different card or a different ATM.  Sometimes, your bank or credit card company will freeze your account due to suspicious activity, even though you called them ahead of time and told them where and when you would be traveling.  Have a backup plan.

This is what travelers checks are for - the back up plan.  They are clunky, old-fashioned and often require going to a bank and signing your life away to get cashed but they work brilliantly in an emergency, unless you lose your ID.  Then you are up a creek. 

If your pin is a word, then you need to remember your pin as a number because key pads in Europe often don't have letters, only the numbers.  It can be hard to remember which key has the letter S etc.
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wegie
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« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2009, 8:31:47 pm »

If your pin is a word, then you need to remember your pin as a number because key pads in Europe often don't have letters, only the numbers.  It can be hard to remember which key has the letter S etc.

Often? I can't remember the last time I saw a keypad over here with letters!
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notaprof
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« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2009, 8:39:03 pm »

If your pin is a word, then you need to remember your pin as a number because key pads in Europe often don't have letters, only the numbers.  It can be hard to remember which key has the letter S etc.

Often? I can't remember the last time I saw a keypad over here with letters!

Well, I have not checked every last key pad in Europe so I didn't want to generalize from my experience.  I was afraid if I said "all keypads don't have letters" then someone would mention the one they used in Tallinn in 1997 that did and thus question my expertise on the subject. 
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