Best deal on Euros

Old Sep 14th, 2005, 10:33 AM
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Best deal on Euros

I go to France and Italy once or twice a year. I use my credit card as much as possible and use ATMS for cash with my debit card. The money available from ATMs is so limited. Now that Citicard and Chase are charging an extra 3% and my Juniper Bank charges 2%, I wondered if it would make sense to take American dollars and go to a bank to exchange for Euros. Does anyone know if this would be worth the effort (and risk of carrying the a lot of cash)? (I have heard that Capitol One only charges 1% but I don't want another card) Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 10:43 AM
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Very bad business...I think most banks would charge you more than the 3% the ATM charges.
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 10:43 AM
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The charge for exchanging dollars for euros at a bank or exchange facility will be at least 2 to 3 times more than what you've mentioned. It is definitely NOT a good idea.

My bank only charges 1% for an ATM w/d and no flat fee if I use a partner bank. I can withdraw up to $1,000/day. I also have a credit union account which charges 1% for an ATM w/d, and a flat fee of $1 per w/d. You should shop around for a better deal, but even if you keep what you have, it still beats exchanging currency.
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 11:55 AM
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If your bank limits the amount you cantake from an ATMso stringently you should change banks.

Alternatively - if you're spendng $300-$400 per day in cash - why not use your credit card instead (I can;t imagine places with prices that high won;t take CC).

And banks changing cash for euros will charge way more than 2 or 3% over the interbank rate you get wwith ATMs - I read they charge something like 10% more - depending on the bank/country.

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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 12:24 PM
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Even with the foreign currency exchange fee assessed when using your credit cards, you still get a good exchange rate.

We figured out that in the scheme of our total expenses whether using ATMs (no charge from our bank or the foreign bank) or credit cards - totalled barely 2%. Strange, but when offset with the ATMs - it wasn't much. When using ATMs, we withdrew the daily maximum (if we even needed that much) and this would last three or four days. Of course, our spending habits and those of others may differ... but fees weren't much at all. Probably less then what we spent on useless souvenirs or items we more then likely could have found at home for less money.

The credit card companies/banks are in business to make money; you have the convenience of using the cards then carrying around lots of cash... and don't forget those frequent flyer miles you accumulate. The days of free (with few exceptions) are no more.
 
Old Sep 14th, 2005, 01:35 PM
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So limited? How much money a day do you want, and why? If you really need hundreds and hundreds of dollars in cash each day, I'd think you might get another bank account so you have another ATM card.
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 02:22 PM
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When the screen appears for dollar choices on the ATM, I always try to select 500 E, but I end up with only 200-250E. That amount is enough for 2 days but it seems easier to get more less often then going to an ATM so often. Sometimes hotels will give a discount for cash but I hever can withdraw enough to take advantage of the offer. But as someone just wrote, the fees are unavoidable--using a credit card or ATM. Our hotel bill on our trip next week to Rome and the Amalfi Coast will be 2490 E--converting that to dollars it bad enough. I was just trying to figure out the best way to pay the bill.
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 02:33 PM
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Richard:

You just need to ask your bank to raise your limit. If they won't do it, open another account at a bank that will, even if you only use that account for your trip expenses.

All I know is my French bank charges an arm and a leg to exchange dollars, even if you're an account holder - for non-account holders, it's even worse. And they charge an outrageous amount to cash traveler's checks, too, even if they're euro-denominated. So the answer to your question is, no it wouldn't make sense to carry dollars and exchange them at a bank.
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 02:54 PM
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Hello RichardJ, I was reading your post with interest and have a suggestion that St.Cirq already mentioned so I guess I should actually say I "second" her suggestion.

I am a firm believer in having a second checking account with an ATM card when going to Europe. That way if something "happens" to your first ATM card you have a backup. And our Patrick here has stated that he found in a lot of ATM's in Italy you do need an ATM/Debit card with the Visa logo. He did not say every ATM required this but a lot of them did. He is an active traveller and can always be counted on to give good and accurate advise.

If I were you I would open up a second checking account with a bank that offers an ATM/Debit card with the Visa logo. And a bank that will set your ATM withdrawal that is at a limit that meets your requirement. Best wishes.


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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 04:19 PM
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I will call my bank tomorrow morning. Frankly, I didn't know that it's my bank which sets the limit. I naively thought it was the ATM machine! Thanks to everyone for setting me straight. The only reason I asked the question about taking cash is that a travel site on line recommended taking cash and going to a bank for conversion. Last trip I was paranoid that an ATM would eat my card, so I ordered a different VISA debit card linked to the same account as protection. Perhaps I could use both cards at the same machine on the same day?
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 04:30 PM
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Ah now RichardJ, that is another point to consider. The maximum you can withdraw from an ATM in Italy. Yes they do have their limit. But you should be able to go to another ATM and withdraw more if you need to IF your US Bank allows the withdrawal.
Something that I want to share. All my Italian friends in Italy only use the ATM's at a bank WHEN the bank is open for business. That way if your ATM card is not returned or if there is any problem you can then walk inside the bank to get assistance.
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 04:36 PM
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I also agree to get another ATM card (possibly from a different bank) and/or to ask for a higher limit. I don't know if my bank is just really good or what, but the last time I was in Europe using the ATM's I never got charged any fees and got better conversion rates than even using a credit card or exchanging money.
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 05:09 PM
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I believe that credit unions generally do not charge for ATM withdrawals abroad.
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 06:29 PM
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RichardJ: "The only reason I asked the question about taking cash is that a travel site on line recommended taking cash and going to a bank for conversion."

Since that is REALLY silly advice - please tell us which site it is. Just as there are some pretty useless guide books -- all websites are NOT created equal . . . .
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Old Sep 15th, 2005, 06:51 AM
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Janis--I sure wish I could remember where I read the info about taking cash and converting to euros at a bank. I know at the time the advice surprised me--that's why I posted it. I have been searching for website and if I find it again, I will post it as a warning. Definitely proves you can't trust everything you read, even on mainstream websites.
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