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Currency

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Are the Irish still using pounds or have they completely switched over to the euro? How shall I have my money exchanged before leaving the states?

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    If you're going to Ireland, the Euro is the accepted currency. If you're going to Northern Ireland, the pound is the accepted currency. In either case, you'll do far better using an ATM card in Europe to change currencies. Bring a modest amount of travelers checks in US dollar denomination (which, if not used, can be deposited in your bank account). Depend upon a credit card for accommodations, meals, shopping for the most favorable exchange rate. Use an ATM card, with a four digit PIN number, for cash withdrawals, again to gain the most favorable exchange rate.

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    I was told that the euro is now legal tender in Ireland as of about a week ago. If you show up with old Irish money, you will need to convert it at a national bank office, although some regular banks may be offering currency exchange as a service.
    I would not exchange money in the States. I don't think the switch to the euro by 12 nations has changed the basic approach:
    use your ATM card for pocket money,
    use your charge card for purchases so large that you don't feel comfortable carrying the folding money,
    take a long a few US dollar traveler's checks as a last line of defense.

    Some people like to have a few euros in their pocket so that they are not dependent on finding an ATM immediately after arrival. I do so myself, depending on where I am going.

    Buying euros, or other foreign currency, in the States can be more exensive that the same transaction in Europe. I live in a small town and have to acquire foreign currency from a branch office of a major bank. I figure I paty 5% more for it that I would pay for the same amount currency purchased in Europe from an ATM.
    I limit my purchase and know full well that I am buying the minimum amount purely as a convenience. It is sort of the same idea as buying a few food items at the Handy Andy; you know you are paying more per unit, but a big store is not at the moment close by. So you pay for the convenience.

    Also, I recommend asking your credit card issuer how much of a conversion fee you can expect to pay for non dollars denominated transactions.

    I know my bank sent out a notice that credit transactions would be charged a 2% conversion fee in addition to the 1% being charged by Visa. A recent post on this forum stated that Visa is now charging 2%. I have not verified this statement. If true, you could end up paying 2% to Visa for having used your card overseas, and then another 2% payment to your credit card issuing company for a conversion and billing fee.
    If using my credit card is going to inflate my costs by 4%, I may decide not to use it.

    You might argue that a service fee of $120 is low on a total purchase of $3000. I don't agree. If a pickpocket lifted your wallet with $120 in it, would you just shrug your shoulders and dismiss it as a cost of doing business? I wouldn't. Of course one act is legal and the other is not, but legality is an artificial concept.

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    All Euro in the Republic of Ireland since Feb 9th last. Since Northern Ireland is part of the UK they continue to use Sterling/Pound although Euro are accepted in certain stores in border towns.

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