Many credit cards offer no foreign transaction fees which can save a lot of money. I hardly use cash at all, especially when traveling internationally. My Chase Marriott Signature Visa card has no foreign transaction fees. On a recent trip to Japan I estimated I saved over $60 in a week.
I (basically) never exchange money... For me, it's all ATM's (airport, on the street, wherever) and my Marriott Premier VISA (with the Euro chip), which has no foreign transaction fees.
for we two ways first use a credit card that charges no fees like the chase and find out if your bank has reciprocal agreements with a bank in country then no bank fee when using their ATM. B of A has in most countries but not in Ireland
If you have an American Express Card, I find it is the best!
In London, it is front of Harrods, In Paris, it is across the street from the Opera!
Don't forget to take your passport wherever you go!
Just be careful with your Amex. I am a loyal Amex person but I find that its acceptance in some European countries such as the Netherlands is not as wide. The Netherlands seems to like any card as long as it is a MasterCard/Maestro!
I never exchange money in Europe. My bank only charges me $1.00 per ATM fee anywhere in the world, and I get wholesale currency rates with my debit card. I would never change actual dollars because the commissions and exchange rates are ridiculous. Plus there are ATMs even in the smallest of towns.
I use my Cap One ATM card for cash in Europe. They reimburse me up tp $15/month for any non-Cap One withdrawal fees. And I use my "no foreign transaction fees" credit cards for other purchases.
For the poll I selected banks, but only because I never exchange money in Europe or any other foreign locations, always order what we think we will need from our bank here about a week before we leave and the rest goes via AMEX or VISA.
I never exchange in Europe. I take the cash with me I need (and what I don't use stays in reserve because we frequent places that use the euro so often). Other than that, I use my credit cards that have no exchange fee. So, I chose banks on the poll, but they are American banks. I used to have a 'euro' account with ING in the Caribbean when we stayed there (so that was my cheapest exchange of all), but I closed it when we sold our house there.
Do this home before you leave. This is the best rate I ever get.
I never exchange currency abroad unless something goes wrong (only happened in Turkey, and fortunately I had a lot of British pounds). I always use my debit cards in reliable ATM machines which give you the actual exchange rate without commission or devaluation. Depending on your bank, they might charge you something, but mine (a small bank) does not.
If you use your visa, the exchange is quite fair due to their volume.
I've never used a credit card because of their high interest rates, but have always (15+ years) used ATM card at most banks. You get whatever the actual rate is that day and unless your home bank charges rates (which mine doesn't) it's the best deal. I actually never use my ATM debit card for anything else, even at home, because I want CC reward points .
Agreed. I just use the atm machines at major banks, depending on the country, which provides a fair exchange rate. My credit union unfortunately does charge an atm fee. About 6-8 years ago when Citibank was in France, we had a travel account with them as there was zero atm or foreign fees of any kind, just the fair market exchange rate, but they left the country. I do transact with credit cards as much as possible though as they provide the best rate. Make sure your credit card doesn't impose foreign transaction fees (the Chase Marriott card has none).
Like Pluto, except for cash withdrawals, I use credit cards for everything when I travel -- you get the best possible (and real wholesale) rates. I'm lucky that I have a small bank that does not charge me for ATM usage anywhere, and most ATMs in Europe also do not charge a fee (unlike everywhere in the US).
One hint. I try time permitting to get cash at an ATM at my first airline stop in Europe so as to avoid unpleasant surprises, esp when going to Italy or Greece. At Schiphol, no problem, but I noticed on a recent trip through CDG/Paris that the ATMs located next to the currency exchanges were charging a fee comparable to that of the exchange itself. Horror of horrors! Don't do it. A woman who wanted to change money asked me and I said "don't," but she was afraid she wouldn't have enough euros at her destination and lost about 30 cents per dollar more than the actual exchange rate.
Schiphol seems to be behaving itself, and the airports and banks in Venice were just fine.
ALWAYS choose a bank when you do an outdoor city transaction. And when you do and you enter your four digit PIN make sure to cover your hands as you enter it. It was interesting to note in Venice that the bank machines actually told you to do so.
If you do all this, you'll get the best and actual exchange rate, and face almost no chances of fraud. DO NOT (if you can avoid it) use ATMs located in places other than banks or airports (train stations are usually okay if you follow all the safeguards).
I usually carry however many euros I have from my last trip plus about $60 in case of emergency. And I always make sure I remember the PIN on at least one of my credit cards in case everything else fails.
We've always gotten money exchanged from our bank here at home before we leave, seem to get a good rate and thus get to avoid using ATM's out of the country. We find some pretty creative spots to split up the money so it's not in one spot when traveling, often times don't find it until we get back home.
Strangely, I can't get foreign currency here without a big hassle (and I don't live in a small town). I have to open an account with either Citibank or Bank of America, who nickel and dime their customers to death with fees and charges for everything, unless of course I give them a minimum amount of money (with no interest back, and no thanks), then I have to "order" the currency which is shipped in, pay a shipping/delivery fee, which negates any good rate (and the rates really aren't the best). (And I really dislike B of A btw.) The last time I did that, I decided that from then on, I would make sure I brought back about 100€ with me to have on hand for the beginning of each next trip. So far, it's worked out pretty well, except for the ATM fees, which is worth it to avoid the hassle both here on my own soil and abroad with regards to foreign currency (and I would never say that about ATM fees here at home to get USD's!)
I have a Cap One High Yield checking account. They don't charge you to use other banks' ATMs. Plus they will refund up to $15 per month of ATM fees other banks charge you world-wide. There is no monthly service fee.
I use the ATM machines at banks throughout Europe to get cash. I use my 'no foreign transaction' fee credit cards for all purchases (other than low cost purchases). DO NOT accept dynamic currency conversion when offered at either an ATM or by a shopkeeper.... you will pay an additional 3-5% for the 'convenience' of seeing your purchase price in US dollars!
I bring a few hundred euros home with me from each trip so I have don't have to look for an ATM for a couple of days at the beginning of the next trip.
You are so right, newhiltonmember, about the dynamic currency conversion. Unless there is some expected huge downfall in the US monetary system within the coming week, it is ALWAYS a bad deal.
I go to an ATM to pick up $100 cash in case a place doesn't take a credit card (I tend to like small villages vs cities) but otherwise, I use my Marriott Rewards Credit Card as there are no exchange fees and with the chip, it is more accepted than any other card I have.
When my daughter was living in Europe, and we had a shared account credit card and a shared account debit card, I was getting calls every couple of weeks as holds were being put on the account, wondering if the use was fraudulent. I kept telling them that she would be there for another year, but they kept putting security holds on the account, leaving her stranded once. After about 7 months of this, one of the credit card security workers told me that using a card in a train station or an airport, for anything--ATM (my bank has no ATM charges), food on the train, a purchase of anything in the station/airport, would trip up a fraud alert. She said this is due to the number of cards stolen in these venues. So, advised daughter to make sure she had cash to use in a station/airport and to not use the cards--> no more problems or security holds. Don't carry a lot of cash. I did this once and paid the price, after my wallet was stolen.
I've actually never had this problem. I usually keep whatever euros I have left from my previous trip, and then at the first airport ATM I usually take out the equivalent of $300, since some places won't take credit cards. I travel 10-12 times a year to Europe, and except for the MR Chase cards, never get calls or problems.
Also, if you ever have foreign cash left from a country you don't plan to visit again, take it with you and change it at a bank, as well as taking about $60 in currency, which can get you through a day or two if need be.
But credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. The one problem you will occasionally have is because the US is so far behind on the chip system and still uses magnetic strips. In big cities, this is not a problem, but in small towns it can be. A few years back in St-Malo, FR, I had had lunch which I paid with a credit card (no issue), then wanted to buy two paintings from an outdoor store. They could not get the same or any other credit card to work. It turns out with magnetic strips that they usually have to swipe them fast through their machines, which is not apparently the norm.
But always use credit cards or ATMs unless your bank has huge extra charges (mine charges nothing extra) because you will get the actual rate of exchange, not what you get at currency exchanges or if they still exist, travelers' cheques.
Glad you didn't have this problem. At the time she was using cards without the chip, just the magnetic kind. It got to be quite an annoying issue. I agree, just use credit cards and ATMs, saving cash for the tiny villages where they still have restaurants, etc., that don't take credit cards.
ATMs. My bank waives the fees. And I have a Chase Marriott Visa that waives currency exchange fees.
I bank with Bank of America so I order some currency before I leave and use ATMs as needed but try to use plastic (ones without foreign fees) as much as possible as it makes doing the expense report a lot easier!
Have done the same with B of A got a very good exchange rate as well.
I always draft money out of an ATM in Europe (or overseas anywhere technically). Banks offer the best rates and as long as you are not taking out small amounts, the fees as a percentage don't eat your lunch.
ATMs usually offer the best rates. If you're getting charged a transaction fee, make sure you take out enough. Check for credit cards with no transaction fees. When given the option for local or home currency, go with the local one; otherwise you may be charged a conversion/transaction fee on either end. Make sure you have a chip + PIN credit card. Without the PIN you're still going to have to sign everywhere and may not be able to use it some places.
I don't carry too much cash when I travel, so I typically exchange at the airport. That way when you are leaving, you can exchange back with the same company and get a bit of an exchange fee break. Just keep your receipt.
I use a credit card with no foreign transaction fee and use very little cash. Upon arrival I use an Airport ATM to get a small amount of cash and that is usually sufficient.
Always ATM - or just charge everything. You get the best bank rate via ATM, with only a small fixed transaction fee.
Check which banks have transfer relationships with your US bank and you can save money
I have been lucky enough to have friends in a number of different countries that we just trade American dollars for whatever currency their country uses.
I average 8 to 10 European trips for year. I NEVER use currency exchanges, it is virtually always cheaper to use cash machines - especially if you have an international transaction fee free card. An important thing to remember when using cash machines in Europe - you will often be offered the opportunity to have the transaction charged in your own currency rather than the currency you are buying. In my experience you are normally considerably better off charging in the local currency.
I typically get about $100-$200 in Foreign Currency from my bank before I leave and use it only for whatever I may not be able to charge. I always feel it is good to have some cash on hand when traveling internationally. Otherwise, I charge everything to my Marriott Rewards Card because it has no foreign transaction fees.
I am a European living in US and every time I visit Europe (1-2 times per year) I seldom get cash. Why would I? They accept cards everywhere.
there are many arguments that the US credit cards have no foreign exchange fees but be aware that you in many cases actually pay a fee directly to the merchant which is just added automatically to the total. This is the fee the merchant has to pay and that is transferred to you. Look closely at your receipt you receive after your purchase (the credit card receipt - not the sales receipt). It will therefore not appear as a fee on your credit card statement but instead appear as a lump sum. It is in the neighborhood of 0.5% of the purchase price.
If I need cash I will simply use my US issued debit card and get money at a local bank ATM.
I typically do not change money except for walking around money. Most of my transactions are CC since my card does not have foreign transaction fees. The exchange rate is usually pretty close to par.
Like many of the respondents, I get cash when I arrive in the country I am visiting. Usually, I go to an ATM at the airport I have arrived at and get enough cash for paying for things like taking a taxi or leaving tips at check in. I get money at any ATM because you get the best exchange rate and there are no broker fees. After my initial need for cash, I use my Marriott Premier Card (with the chip) for all other purchases as it does not have any foreign transaction fees.
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