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Amex Gift Card use in Europe. What am I missing?

Amex Gift Card use in Europe. What am I missing?

Jul 2nd, 2012, 06:34 AM
  #1  
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Amex Gift Card use in Europe. What am I missing?

Heading out in two days. I've always used my cc for as many transactions as possible and carried a bit of cash, which I get at the ATM, as well. Saturday the teller at my bank suggested that I purchase an Amex gift card (or two) in the amounts of $500 and use them instead of credit cards. Why? Even though my cc doesn't have a conversion fee, I will pay the daily rate for the exchange, which will take a few days to process. With the Amex, I've already paid (no cc to pay off when I return) and the euro rate will be instantaneous.

There has to be something I'm not seeing, since I've not read about this suggestion before. Is it hard to use the gift card?

Your help in working my tired mind for me is much appreciated. Thanks!
MelJ is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 06:45 AM
  #2  
ira
 
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Hi Mel,

>There has to be something I'm not seeing,...

A. There is a charge to load the card with your 500USD
B. The exchange rate for converting USD to Euro is worse than what you get at the ATM
C. If you want to reload the card, there will be a charge for that.

Maintain course and speed. Don't be distracted. Enjoy your visit.

ira is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 06:46 AM
  #3  
P_M
 
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There is no benefit to using an AmEx gift card in Europe or anywhere else. The teller doesn't know what s/he is talking about. Just stick with your original plan.
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Jul 2nd, 2012, 06:51 AM
  #4  
P_M
 
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One more thing:

The teller has probably been instructed to offer the AmEx card by the branch manager. I would call the manager and tell him/her what you just told us, and let that person know that tellers should stop recommending this option to customers. There's no telling how many customers took this bad advice and found out too late what a rip-off it is. This is not good for the bank's image and will cause mistrust with the public.
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Jul 2nd, 2012, 06:55 AM
  #5  
 
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I've not tried to use an AMEX in Europe, but I wonder how well it's received. (In my experience, a lot of places in the US don't accept it).
Bitter is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 07:27 AM
  #6  
 
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Yeah, just sounds like a bad deal all around for the consumer, something that is being pushed by the bank, because apparently the banks in this country aren't making enough money.

In general, I have found that most bank tellers know nothing about the best way to handle money for international travel. They just know what products they are told to push - sort of like the "financial advisor" who continually pushes insurance products
november_moon is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 07:32 AM
  #7  
 
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I don't even take my AmEx card with me to Europe. Very few places accept it. And even in the states, it is not accepted every where.
scatcat is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 07:55 AM
  #8  
 
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Look at their T&C. I don't know which type of Gift Card you are looking at, but one says, "A Gift Card may be used at merchants and retailers in the United States" and "The Card cannot be used at ... ATMs."
You would be paying high fees for using the card at what restricted places you can use. In return, the seller gets a commission out of the excess fees you will be paying. What a sweet deal for the seller.
greg is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 07:58 AM
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It's a rip-off and you should call your bank and complain. I have never met a teller at a US bank who knows jack about exchange rates or the best ways to handle international travel.
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Jul 2nd, 2012, 08:08 AM
  #10  
 
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"Saturday the teller at my bank suggested that I purchase an Amex gift card (or two) in the amounts of $500 and use them instead of credit cards. Why?"

Simple . . . because the bank and Amex make $$$ on it. Just a sales pitch.

I'd complain to the bank manager.
janisj is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 08:22 AM
  #11  
 
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This is a really bad idea.

1) it limits you to places that take AmEx versus Visa and MC
2)they have yuor money in advance
3) there are fees to add and remove money
4) you will get a much worse rate of exchange

This is only a good idea for AmEx - and their profits.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 08:26 AM
  #12  
 
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Ditto the above posts who unmask this for the sales pitch it is. No benefit to you, possibly even detriment as AmEx often not accepted in Europe. Plus you get lousy exchange rate.
Seamus is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 08:31 AM
  #13  
 
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Many places in Europe do NOT accept Amex, including me in my B&B. Their percentage of commission is unacceptably high.
tarquin is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 09:03 AM
  #14  
 
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OK, then. I guess that answers the question
uhoh_busted is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 06:02 PM
  #15  
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Okay. Got it. Forget the Amex idea. But I do need to clear something up: The bank doesn't offer Amex. The teller was suggesting we go to our grocery story and buy it. She's just a nice gal that we see every week who had a suggestion. The bank doesn't sell gift cards.

I also agree that the bank is often wrong about foreign currency advise. Every time we go away and contact the bank about using our debit card they have a different procedure. Some times we have to fill out paperwork, other times we just have to make a phone call. This time the teller called someplace and was told we don't need to do anything at all because there was no "Visa" symbol on our card--it is strictly for debit use (by our request).

We'll see...

Anyway, as always, thanks so much for your frank help. I appreciate it very much!
MelJ is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 06:06 PM
  #16  
 
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there was no "Visa" symbol on our card--it is strictly for debit use (by our request). Actually, it is strictly an ATM card and is not a Debit Card. ATM card can only be used to withdraw cash from ATM. A debit card can be used to make purchases.
DebitNM is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 07:36 PM
  #17  
 
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Next time asked the teller what she uses in Europe. You may find that she has never been but "has heard."
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Jul 2nd, 2012, 08:21 PM
  #18  
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Okay, Debit, you're right. I used the wrong term. It's for ATM use only.
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 05:20 AM
  #19  
P_M
 
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I would follow up on the advice you don't have to do anything. Even if it's just an ATM card they might flag it for irregular use if they don't know you are overseas.
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 06:26 AM
  #20  
 
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I like the idea of an ATM only card, but my bank changed to debit and ATM. Just seems safe to have an ATM only which requires a PIN.
scatcat is offline  

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