ATMs in Europe still the best way?

Mar 26th, 2008, 02:26 PM
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ATMs in Europe still the best way?

I haven't seen any recent posts on this: I know Fodorites generally recommend waiting until arriving in France and then getting Euros from the ATMs, but with the US dollar weakening daily, mightn't it be better to buy my Euros now rather than wait for our May trip?
fischerl is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 02:32 PM
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What sort of exchange rate are you going to get buying the Euros at home? Most likely, there wouldn't be a savings, even if your prognostication is correct, which is far from certain. Even if the general trend of the Euro is upwards, it can still bounce between now and your trip.

WillTravel is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 03:05 PM
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Who knows, I'm positively sure the $ will lose another 25% until the end if 2008. It will settle at about $2 per Euro. The € is a bad investment, the $ is a lot worse. Who knows what the € will be, when you're planning to go in May. (I'd expect about 1.75)

I wouldn't worry about the € but about inflation in the US. It may eat up your money fast. Anyway, I'm betting money on a rapidly falling dollar, and I ain't going to lose...
logos999 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 05:45 PM
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bozama is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 08:15 PM
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WillTravel, that's a good point. I don't know the exact rate because I can't find that information on line. I'll call the bank and ask them. Do you know what the exchange rate is at Paris ATMs?
fischerl is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 10:15 PM
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>exchange rate is at Paris ATMs?

plus spread plus VISA/MC fees plus YOUR banks fees.
logos999 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 10:28 PM
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Please ignore logos999. He is Fodors' resident trouble maker (at the moment anyway) and merely gloats about the $/€ situation.

Buying the € ahead of time makes almost no sense. Even IF the rate worsens by your May trip - it likely will not fall far enough to come close to the rotten rate you will get from your Stateside bank. Most US banks charge nearly 10 more - or even worse - per € than what you get at European ATMs

Plus then you have the security issue of carrying all that cash w/ you.
janisj is online now  
Mar 26th, 2008, 11:02 PM
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janisj, we'll see at the end of the year. It's NOT a situation it's dramatic. But anyway the good thing is that you too will see.
So please folks, if you want to stay ahead in that matter please do ignore janisj's posts! Get you a**es up and inform YOURSELVES.
logos999 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 11:10 PM
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"we'll see at the end of the year."

logos - honey, darling -- the OP is not traveling at the end of the year. He is going in less than 2 months. There is little likelihood the $ will fall enough in 8 weeks to come close to justifying the inflated rate he will get at a US bank.

And even if it DID come close - there is still that little issue of securing all that cash. nutty idea.
janisj is online now  
Mar 26th, 2008, 11:42 PM
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To return to the OP focus - using ATM's is the best way to get your Euro's (if travelling from the US). The exchange rate will be "competitive" (whatever that turns out to be on the day it will be better than you can get on main street) and commission on the transaction is relatively low. Add to this the security of not having to carry too much cash at one time and it remains the most sensible route.

Do call your bank and tell them you are heading to Europe. They may have good advice on which ATM's to use and may make a note on your account that there will be some transactions in a foreign country etc. (Our Citi card was blocked a few years ago simply because we drew cash every day for a few days in London)...
Piedmont_Phil is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 01:36 AM
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Hi F,

This morning, the interbank rate is $1.58.

An ATM will charge you $1.60.

Your bank might charge up to 3% conversion fee - $1.65.

Your bank might add $5 to use the ATM "out of network" - 2% on a $250 transaction - $1.68.

Can you buy Euros at home for $1.68 or less?

PS, what if the Euro drops to $1.56?

ira is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 02:17 AM
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If you can acquire Euros at the Euro zone posted buy rate, buy them. Chances are this is impossible. The difference in value now and May will be low. Visit your bank and get their debit card fees! Check other banks. The expense of converting currency is going to be a very minor part of your budget. Assume a $5,000 budget. Converting this to Euros may cost $100...the price of a Paris Dinner.
GSteed is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 08:28 AM
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Hmmmmm, and the talking heads on CNBC speculate that the $ may have almost bottomed. Although if it does start turning up, I'm sure it won't be fast enough to help my trip which is also in May.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 09:28 AM
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I'd think that the USD will continue downwards, if only because of the recent and projected future interest rate cuts.

But since no one can predict what will happen, is buying Euros now not something of a gamble?

Were you going to buy all of your euros beforehand ($2000-$3000 worth)? And carry this around with you?

By buying now, you are locking in at a worse rate (due to bank costs) hoping for the currency to go down even more so that you break even or do better.

I'd use ATMs and their rate. In the whole overview of holiday costs, the convenience of an ATM and small overall $ lost if the currency did go down would outweighs buying now
Michel_Paris is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 09:52 AM
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I don't think it will be THAT big of a jump in the exchange rate to warrant buying euros now. Not to mention carrying all that money around would be crazy.

The exchange rate has only changed about 20cents since my trip to France last summer when the rate was 1.38. So, that is only an increase of about .025cents every month.

Assuming the same rate of decline (and I know there are 5000 things that could happen for the decline to be more), the estimated exchange rate would be about 1.63. IMO, not really worth buying euros now.
off2CU is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 01:17 PM
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I travel to many places in the world, over 100 countries. I usually like to have some of the currency of the country with me, in case plane arrives when money changers are closed or I am in an area that does not have ATM's, and need euros or local currency for bus or taxi.
It is part of my planning for a trip to find out which money changer will give me the best exchange rate. Last week I received 1.56 euro for dollar at a local money changer I have been using here in Miami. His was by far the best rate I found. Today the rate is higher. I have found with calling around, I have never yet in many many years have paid more than I would had I waited for arrival. Most places around the world have charges. And another thing..Find out before you need money, where is the best place to change. It could be banks, or the post office and can make a big difference in what you get.
nexttrip is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 02:51 PM
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Check with your bank, then read Ira's post before you decide.

I - who is normally opposed to buying euros stateside - lost an argument with DH this week over this very issue. Ordering euro online from Wells Fargo showed a 4 cent difference over the exchange rate. An $8 Fed Ex fee was the only other add-on cost.

Factoring in the things Ira points out, it comes out pretty much even-steven and we'll land with some cash in hand. It will get us through part of the trip, then we'll hit ATMs. (We just don't want to carry enough cash for the WHOLE trip).
Worktowander is offline  
Apr 5th, 2008, 07:19 PM
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Wow--thank you all so much for taking the time to respond. So I think I'll get some Euros here (I'm supposed to pay my B&B host in Euros upon arrival), then use the Paris ATMs as we need to. Thanks again. I am not a numbers person, so I appreciate your patience!

fischerl is offline  
Apr 5th, 2008, 08:01 PM
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I don't know if this helps or not, but I'm going in Jan 2009 and I have been purchasing Euro since I started planning the trip - 15 months ago. When I started and put together my budget not including airfare, it was about $1.42 a Euro. Now of course it's about $1.57 and my sources seem to think it will be about 1.67 by the time I go in January 2009.

If you purchase Euro here you have to rememeber that the price on the exchange is NOT what the bank will charge you. They will typically add a few percentage points to cover their operations and hedge their bets. Hence if the FOREX rate is $1.58 the bank may charge you $1.65 - adding anywhere from 2 - 4 - 6% to the Forex rate.

My cousin fortunately works at a bank so I was able to get her to purchase Euro for a few percentage points less than what the bank usually charges non-employees.

Exchanging US$ there is also not a good idea since you get raked on the exchange rate AND get charged a handling fee.

When you use your ATM card YOUR bank will add points to the transaction and add a handling fee.
Also different Credit Card companies will charge a different exchange percentage. Capital One hs traditionally been the lowest for me. They just charge out the current rate without adding anything.

For cash in hand, you may want to get some Euro's now. You can also get euro in Traveller's Checks. In any case it's better to over budget. To go that far and not be able to do most of what you want or be so concerned with the budget that your find yourself making frequent trade off's is no fun.

Like I said I don;t know if this will help. I'm taking fairly good amount of Euro with me, but will still use my Credit Card for some things like the hotels.

josep55 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2008, 08:34 PM
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josep55: How do you plan on securing all that cash??

also - "my sources seem to think it will be about 1.67 by the time I go in January 2009." No one knows what the € will be a year from now - not even central banks . . . . .
janisj is online now  

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