Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

best to buy euros in US, at airport casio, or bank in Brussels?

best to buy euros in US, at airport casio, or bank in Brussels?

Mar 27th, 2015, 06:40 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 58
best to buy euros in US, at airport casio, or bank in Brussels?

We are headed to Belgium and Lithuania in April. We were wondering whether it would be best to buy euros at our bank (Bank of America as of today is charging a tad over $1.14 per euro, quite a bit over the exchange rate of $1.09).

If we wait until we get to Brussels--and perhaps bring cash (something north of $2,000)--can we do better?

Finally, we are cautious people not prone to carrying huge amounts of cash. Does carrying this much strike anyone as unwise?


Lnwyd is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 06:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,410
99% of the people here will tell you to just use ATMs when you get there, that's what I do, too. What did you do on your previous trips to Europe?
elberko is online now  
Mar 27th, 2015, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,821
NONE of the above. USE AN ATM.
Gretchen is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 06:55 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 11,775
Don't do either. I haven't exchanged dollars for euros in years, but I know that it's not an economical way to get cash. Either the exchange rate is bad or you're charged a fee. Just use the ATM machines you will see all over, including at the airport when you land.

The two most economical ways to spend when you're in Europe are credit card and ATM. My bank (Wells Fargo) charges $5.00 per transaction, no matter how much money I get, so I get the maximum ($500 worth of euros) and carry it in a money belt.

If you're nervous about landing with no cash, get $50 worth of euros from B.of A. before you go.
Pegontheroad is online now  
Mar 27th, 2015, 07:01 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,458
Make sure you inform your bank that you are traveling. Find out what the fees are, and consider opening a credit union account if they are high. (I have a Capital One account I use for travel that charges no foreign conversion fees and no foreign ATM fees, but most credit unions only charge 1% foreign conversion and will allow a few fee-free withdrawals. I dumped Wells Fargo because of their fees.)

I do not generally travel with a lot of cash, and I wear a money belt.
thursdaysd is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 07:42 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 58
Thank you one and all. We are normally ATM/credit card people. On this trip we have discovered that B0A has no partner bank in Belgium (go figure) so there are additional fees for withdrawals. We also are making a substantial gift to a church rebuilding fund in Lithuania (the family church built in 1888 burned to the ground a year or so ago) and as we can't seem to arrange for a check in euros (again, I guess because they don't have a partner bank, B0A simply won't order us a check). As all those fees add up we were trying to figure out an end run. I suspect you are all right, though, and we should stick to what we normally do.
Lnwyd is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 07:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,631
If you travel much, it would pay you to have an account elsewhere that doesn't charge all the fees the big banks do. Credit unions, for instance often do not charge for use of a foreign ATM, and likely charge less than the 3% that BoA charges on foreign exchange. The best deals I've found are brokerage houses. I have a checking account through my brokerage that doesn't charge for use of foreign ATMs, reimburses me for any fees the foreign ATM might charge, and charges only a 1% premium on foreign exchange.
Kathie is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 07:59 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,541
Even without a partner bank, and even with the fees -- using an ATM card is cheaper than buying currency in Europe.

But BofA does have higher fees than some other banks/credit unions. Opening a special travel account in a local credit union is an option.
janisj is online now  
Mar 27th, 2015, 08:08 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,868
I have never found that an ATM in our varied travels through Europe EVER charged a fee. None was a partner bank with our bank. It is only YOUR own US bank that charges fees.

We also have set up special checking accounts for travel only which charge no fees AT ALL.

Capital One, though we have a 4 year old account. Not sure the ones they offer now have the same deal.

Andrews Federal Credit Union.

These both offer fee free Credit Cards as well. Both were opened online and all transactions are done online or via mobile banking app.
DebitNM is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 08:11 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,458
Have you asked your bank about a wire transfer? Looked into using xe.com or PayPal? Looked into Western Union's fees? I'm not surprised you can't get a check in euros, but that is far from the only option.
thursdaysd is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 08:16 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,541
I have had to send very substantial amounts to a relative living in eastern Europe -- I just go to my local bank and do wire transfers straight to his bank account. Yes there are fees -- but it doesn't cost more depending on the amount and there is no security issue carrying beaucoup $$$

If you are making a substantial donation, I;d consider a bank transfer and then just use you ATM card for your own cash requirements during the trip.
janisj is online now  
Mar 27th, 2015, 08:19 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,600

To transfer money for a donation, try http://www.xe.com/xetrade/ if you need to have a precise foreign amount, or https://transferwise.com/landing/int...onalPageUrl=us to have a precise dollar amount. Either one will be cheaper than your bank. I've used both with no problems, transferring considerable amounts of money.

In addition, consider setting up a travel account with a local credit union; they usually do not charge for foreign withdrawals more than the 1% Visa conversion charge.
Michael is online now  
Mar 27th, 2015, 08:22 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 36,438
Although other credits card now do it as well, I'm a long time fan of Capital One which never charged any fees for credit card use. So a few years ago, I also opened a Capital One checking account (totally free) and got an ATM card with it, for great rates and no fees at international ATMs. In addition, I now use that interest bearing checking account as a separate travel fund, putting spare money when I can and having the amounts already there for cash withdrawals when traveling, as well as paying travel bills once back home.

Not sure this is worth mentioning, but Belgium is the ONLY European country where we had great difficulties using ATMs, they simply wouldn't work for us in Brugge and in Brussels.
One person in our small group had some sort of ATM card that did work, but the rest of us could not get cash using our BofA, Citibank, and Capital One ATM cards, although they worked everywhere else we went on that trip. But that's now been about 5 years ago -- not sure if whatever that issue was (expressed by others as well) still exists.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 08:27 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,541
I'd heard that before NP. I'm spending 4 days in Belgium late next month and was worried. To be safe, I now plan to get a lot of € from the ATM at St Pancras before boarding the Eurostar (they issue both £ and €)
janisj is online now  
Mar 31st, 2015, 02:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 58
OMG. What a lot of information. My mind is spinning! I had not even considered a credit union. What great advice. And there is no question but that certain cards work better in Europe than others. I need to sort all this out. Thank you so much one and all.
Lnwyd is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:07 AM.