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Buy Euros before I go or at ATM's in Germany?

Buy Euros before I go or at ATM's in Germany?

Old Jun 17th, 2014, 05:50 PM
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Buy Euros before I go or at ATM's in Germany?

I am going to Germany at the end of July 2014. I am not sure whether to buy euros in Canada before I leave or to buy in Germany. I have read some rather old posts from people suggesting to buy only a little bit at home and then find ATM's during my vacation when ever I need to top up as it is cheaper. They also suggested the added benefit of not having to exchange euros back to Cdn dollars which can also be costly.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I have a Royal Bank debit card and don't expect there to be issues trying to withdraw money overseas. I will contact my bank to confirm access to my money from ATMs.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 05:58 PM
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We always take some with us. then you don't have worry about getting cash when arrive. can get it from an atm at your leisure
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 06:03 PM
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You will pay a lot more for your Euros if you get them before you go. I've never had trouble finding an ATM in an international airport upon arrival.

Do check on what your bank charges for use of a foreign ATM and for foreign exchange.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 06:03 PM
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Get your euros from cash machines in Europe. It's the cheapest way to get money. I asked my bank to raise my daily limit to $500 per day, as my bank charges $5 for each withdrawal, regardless of how much much I withdraw.

I will draw smaller amounts of money only toward the end of my trip if I see that I won't need $500 worth.

There will be ATM's in the airport when you arrive, but if it will make you feel a more secure, you might buy a few dollars worth of euros before you go.

As you say, you should contact your bank before you go to notify them about when and where you'll be gone. I also call my credit card company to notify them that I'll be traveling.

I am a bit paranoid, so I make sure that I can draw cash with my credit card or that I have 2 ATM cards--just in case.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 06:49 PM
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Totally agree with everyone that have recommended contacting your bank to let them know the dates and where you are traveling and to check what they charge. Also the credit card company as well! I usually go to a bank in town and get only $300 worth of Euros, then the remainder of the trip I use ATM which do give you the best and most current exchange rate. I was not happy with my bank in ordering some Euros. I found IBC bank in town that has Euros on hand and I purchase only a small amount. Happy Travels
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 06:58 PM
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 07:01 PM
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" I make sure that I can draw cash with my credit card"

Using this as back up plan only as using a credit card to get cash is a really bad idea. It is a loan. You start accruing (high) interest immediately, there is usually a pretty high fee to do so, foreign transactions fees etc.

Much better to have 2 ATM cards from 2 different accounts.
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 01:18 PM
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I usually get out a small amount before I go, for various reasons. For example, arriving at Rome airport, I wanted to make a bus connection and did not have time to wait in the ATM line. Also, on my last trip, I could not withdraw using my ATM card at several different machines, despite having notified my bank in advance. My husband ended up calling them for me; they had my notice on record, but wanted to make sure the withdrawals were legitimate and had, in fact, contacted our joint email account. Uh, thanks?!

But many people seem comfortable not arriving with cash and it is usually fine.
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 01:49 PM
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I have seriously never had a problem getting money from an ATM when I arrive at a destination.

Do call your bank before you leave to let them know you'll be in other countries. And familiarize yourself with the currency so you'll know how much to ask for. The only time I've ever had a problem is when I have forgotten to do that and had no clue how much to take out.
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 02:27 PM
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Thanks to all for the advise. Seems like everyone is in agreement. I will get a little before I go, then top up along the way!
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 03:55 PM
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I have never bought Euros in the US before going to Europe. What's the point? Isn't it better to take some of your own currency with you as a back-up, then just change it if you get stuck and HAVE to have Euros? Presumably you will have a few credit cards as well - but in the remote chance you can't use them and your ATM card doesn't work, just change your native currency at the airport for Euros.

It seems extremely unlikely you'd ever be in a scenario where you can't use your ATM card to get euros, can't use one of your credit cards, and can't change your home currency to Euros, particularly if you are arriving at an airport or major train station.

I've never had trouble getting money out of an ATM machine there (or at least, in the rare case that one ATM machine rejected my card, the one across the street worked fine). I too take two ATM cards with me, though, just in case, though I have never needed the backup card. And I do take a few hundred dollars in USD, just in case. I've never needed it.
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 05:31 PM
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For how long will you be traveling for?

You won't find issues with using your RBC debit card abroad, but unless you have a VIP banking account, you will be paying $5/withdrawal in ATM fees and ~2.5% foreign exchange fee. Consider opening a Scotiabank account (Basic Banking Plan) and leaving $2000.00 in it it so that the monthly fee is waived. Then top it up with your budget for the trip. You will avoid paying the $5 ATM fee so you don't have to carry around lots of cash with you and only pay the ~2.5% foreign exchange fee. Remember that you can only evade the ATM fees if you use an ATM that belongs to Deutsche Bank (part of their Global ATM Alliance), which won't be difficult to find.

BTW, use your RBC debit as a backup, NOT cash advance from your credit card! Aside from the applicable service fees, spread on the foreign exchange rate and surcharges, you will also be paying interest the minute you get your money.
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 06:32 PM
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What's the point in not taking a little Euro with you? Well, would you fly somewhere in the States, say from Los Angeles to New York with zero cash in your wallet because you can always get some at an airport ATM?

What if the airport ATMs are not working? And yes, I have had this happen before. And once on a trip to England, my magnetic strip on my debit card accidently got demagnetized. Oh brother. Fortunately, I had a husband with a debit card, and even more fortunately I had a friend who worked at the Lloyds Bank that wouldn't take my card. So I was able to get a replacement card in a few days, but had I not had those two other avenues, I would have been up ___'s creek.
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 06:32 PM
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Different banks have ATM agreements with differing banks in Europe. Knowing which ones your bank may have an agreement with may save you some fees.

Also be aware of what your own maximum daily cash withdrawal is and you can use the site xe.com to give yourself a general notion of how many Euro your max daily withdrawal limit converts to.

And one more thing. There have been instances in which people have been unable to use an ATM in Europe and they get some sort of machine message that the funds are not available.

Do not panic. Go to another machine and try again.
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 07:10 PM
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Surfergirl: What's the point in not taking a little Euro with you?

I dunno - because I'm frugal? Why pay for something I don't need?

Well, would you fly somewhere in the States, say from Los Angeles to New York with zero cash in your wallet because you can always get some at an airport ATM?

No, you must have missed the part above where I said I would TAKE MY OWN CURRENCY plus credit cards. I always take a few hundred USD with me to Europe, just in case; if I don't need it, nothing lost - I just bring it home.

What if the airport ATMs are not working?

I'd use my credit card. If cash was absolutely required to get me out of the airport and credit cards wouldn't work, then I'd change some of my USD as a last resort. But I've never needed to do that.
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 09:00 PM
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I meant that it would be less stress, less anxiety after a long flight if you had euros on hand. If you are concerned about exchange rates, find an atm in the airport. I think you will find your local exchange rates are much better than you will get at any airport.
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 09:48 PM
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Maybe because I live in a big city that has places with fairly decent exchange rates, I find it cheaper to exchange $$ for a few hundred Euro before getting on a plane.

I'd rather pay a few extra dollars at the front end that enter a foreign country with no Euro and only dollars, and have to pay exorbitant exchange fees at the airport to change my dollars into Euro at an exchange place.

That few extra dollars on the front end -- a de minimis amount in my opinion, especially after an 11 or 12 hour flight, works best for me. Subjective, perhaps, but for me it seems more practical and more frugal.

Again, we all have our own personal comfort level.
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 10:26 PM
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Surfergirl: Maybe because I live in a big city that has places with fairly decent exchange rates, I find it cheaper to exchange $$ for a few hundred Euro before getting on a plane.

It's still more expensive than getting the Euros at an ATM once you get there.

I'd rather pay a few extra dollars at the front end that enter a foreign country with no Euro and only dollars, and have to pay exorbitant exchange fees at the airport to change my dollars into Euro at an exchange place.

I'd rather not exchange my dollars, either, at all, and I've never needed to. It's an emergency backup that I've never needed to use. (Just in case - like having my second ATM card.) Because I've never had any issue getting Euros or other European currency from an ATM, on numerous trips overseas, I've never had to worry about it.

If one time in ten I am forced to exchange $100 USD at a high rate at a European airport due to some emergency, because my two ATM cards didn't work and my several credit cards for some reason couldn't be used to pay for transit or something, I'm still way ahead of the game doing it that one time vs. buying Euros at home every time before I leave.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 11:41 AM
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If we are paying Euros for our first place we will normally come with enough Euros for that, accessing the ATM's for cash at the airport (we tend to stay at least 6-7 days each place). Certainly when we stayed at the same place for almost 3 weeks in Rome we came with Euros.

A friend of ours several years ago had a problem getting money from the ATM (long story, problem with his bank at home)and had he not been traveling with friends that could lend him money (and using his charge card for everything else he could)his trip would have had a really horrible beginning. Hubs would never take that chance We have two ATM cards for one account, one ATM for my bank account and of course a few charge cards each. I think people need to do what makes them comfortable (and less stressed). So far it has been successful for us.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 08:51 PM
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I know that this is mostly a psychological issue, but the currency exchanges at airports in Germany do not charge "exorbitant fees". The exchange rate is the official cash exchange rate (which is slightly worse than the interbank rate which ATMs use, or the CC companies for card transactions) plus a fixed fee of €5-6 per transaction.
Also your local bank (actually your national central bank) should have two pairs of exchange rates published for foreign currency: buy/sell cash, buy/sell interbank.
So that fixed fee is what makes it costly if you exchange small amouts like $50 or $100.
So you pay €55 to get €50, €105 to get €100, €205 to get €200.
If you add the slightly unfavorable exchange rate for cash, you obviouslyl pay more than for getting cash from an ATM - but the extra costs for such emergencies should be in the vicinity of a large frappuccino...
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