COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Stay up to date with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.   Learn More >

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

Buying currency online in US? Help please!

Buying currency online in US? Help please!

Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 05:39 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 36,385
here's one of many sites...yes, I used Google knowing you were too busy

http://www.ezforex.com/
Dukey1 is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 07:12 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
It is so unnecessary in the 21st century. It is a rip off (the only exception possibly being is that you're renting an apartment in some foreign placeand need cash on arrival) but) because no matter what they say, the currency exchange rate will be far poorer than anything you can get by following the advice I will give you.

1. Use your credit cards everywhere they are accepted for any purchase large or small. Make sure (assuming you are in the USA) a credit card that does not charge a foreign transaction fee such as Capital One. There are others too. Or at the very worst, a credit card that only passes along the 1% fee above the interbank rate imposed by mastercard and visa.

2. For those places where you need some cash, use the ATM's. But check with your bank as to what they charge for international ATM withdrawals. If they charge you a foreign currency transaction fee of #5 and/or charge you one red cent for an international withdrawal, tell them to go fly a kite. Go to the internet, open up an account with one of the many banks that offer free ATM or debit cards with no international fees and with no minimum balance required. Keep $1.01 in the account and before you leave transfer as much cash as you think you will need for the trip and withdraw from the ATM's on an ongoing basis. When you return from the trip, take out the cash to the cvhecking account you use for every day purposes and bring the balance on the travelling account back to $1.01.

Bingo...you can save quite a bit of money on the rip off fees imposed and don't listen to the nay sayers how nice it is to have cash upon arrival. All international airports feature many ATM's where you can stop off or even use while waiting for your baggage to come down the carousel.

The only sensible way to travel in the 21st century IMHO.
xyz123 is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 09:01 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,264
>>All international airports feature many ATM's where you can stop off or even use while waiting for your baggage to come down the carousel.
StuDudley is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 09:09 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,198
I wait until I get there and hit the ATM. I know (at least with BoA) you can order foreign currency at the bank. It takes them a few days to get it and the fees and exchange rate is not as good as the ATM method but the piece of mind might be worth it to you.
AisleSeat is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 09:31 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
If you really need euros before you land you can simply exchange cash in your departure airport, which will have a bureau de change. The rate will be terrible - but certainly no worse (and probably a lot better) than you would get from some online service.

Once there use your credit cards for as much as possible and pull walking arond money frm ATMs. Yes, it is possible that there is a strike and no money in ATM - that might happen once every 5 years or so. And your card might not work - which is why you need two - as well as at least 2 credit cards.

But carrying a bunch of euros around with you is very risky - so if yuo MUST do this for some reason I strongly suggest you divide the money up amond several people and tht each person have some money inseveral differnt places (so if someone does lose a purse or wallet or mondysack or whatever - you aren;t stuck.)
nytraveler is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 11:43 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 2,672
By all means, use the ATM once you arrive at your destination. If you want a few Euro, have your local bank order them. I usually bring E50 or so home with me after a trip and use it for the next trip until I can get to the ATM. My bank, and likely yours, gives a good exchange rate and does not charge a fee to exchange a few dollars.
mamcalice is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 12:39 PM
  #7  
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,361
My opinion is that if in the rare occasion that none of the ATMs at the airport works, there is always a currency exchange booth (travelex for example) in the arrivals hall where you can exchange some money. Their exchange rate is probably no worse than what you'd get if you do the exchange at home in the US. I usually bring with me USD 100-200 for emergency.

If the ATMs work, then there's no need to exchange any money!

Even in the event of needing a significant sum on arrival for apt payment, I don't have trouble obtaining the money from the ATM. The other day I just called my bank to alert them that my husband will be traveling, and he'll be using our joint acct ATM card abroad. Because he needs 550 euro for the apt payment, I asked the bank to raise the withdrawal limit to $1000/day.

I also always have 2 ATM cards with me from 2 separate accounts, so in case one got "eaten," I can still use the other one.
yk is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 01:18 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,937
I agree with yk, the exchange bureau is a perfectly reasonable backup as the odds are you won't have to use it, anyway. And if you do, it may be slightly more expensive than getting it from your bank at home, but not much, within the range of emergency expenses. Besides, you wouldn't need much anyway at the airport, so even though it may be a 10-12 pct markup at the airport (and your bank may charge around 7 pct), that's only a few euro difference if you get 100 euro.
Christina is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 01:38 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,264
Hey everyone.

Where in the post did the OP say he/she was arriving at an airport???? How about arriving by cruise ship, train, car, tour bus.

The OP specifically asked that he/she didn't want any lectures about not needing to purchase money in the US. He/she is traveling to the Czech Republic - so even if he/she "starts" at a Euro country airport and gets Euros there, he/she may need Czech money as soon as he/she arrives in the Czech Republic - maybe not by air.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 02:51 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Stu.....they weren't meant to be lectures. All thetime on this board we see people who have no idea about how international currency exchanges work and perhaps might not realize how much money one can lose in not making the right decisions or at least not being in possession of all the facts. After hearing the opinions of others, the op will make the best decision for himself.

My experience with those members of the eu which have not adopted the euro, such as the Czech Republic, is that the use of ATM's is probably greater than within the euro zone because for the reason that travellers arriving from the euro one will have euro but not Czech currency so the advice is still the same. Train stations will have ATM's...border crossing location will have places to exchange currency; just enough to get you to the nearest ATM.

But again, you are certainly entitled to your opinion and you expressed it. I get people all the time who tell me they won't use credit cards, for example, for small purchases for fear their credit cards will be compromised. Fine, that's an opinion. I don't agree with it but it's an opinion.

I felt the way I do twenty five years ago when I regularly began visiting Europe and feel the same way I do today....
xyz123 is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 03:13 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 9,171
If you or a friend have an account with Bank of America you can buy currency there. They were selling it for 140.00 Thursday. No fees, just a few cents more than the going rate. We were getting nervous when it took a huge jump last week but seems to be coming back down slowly.
flpab is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 03:42 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1
Triple A sells a pack of various bills at their offices called Triptiks or some such thing, it is on their website.

I agree with the other posters that you can replinish cash easily, but I also think that it is wise to have enough on you to get out of the airport or train area and then you can use your ATM in a less scam prone area.

It is important to note that many automated sites, for example ticket machines in Paris do not accept mag stripe credit cards without a smart chip. So far Chase is the only US based credit card company offering a smart chip option.
Triple A has a travel debit card, the modern version of travelers checks but it is not smart chip enabled.

I agree with the poster who recommended a debit card option. The good news is that credit cards are accepted everywhere, the bad news is that if your credit card info is stolen it could be awhile before you realize it, so a loadable credit/debit card, that is not linked to your other accounts can be useful.

Though credit card theft is not limited to Europe.. we've had our credit card stolen in Walmart in the Ozarks of Arkansas and used within hours to buy a ticket in Singapore!
comom is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 04:16 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 241
"It is important to note that many automated sites, for example ticket machines in Paris do not accept mag stripe credit cards without a smart chip. So far Chase is the only US based credit card company offering a smart chip option. "

Thanks so much for this information! I will move some money to my Chase account just in case. That's a big help!

I really do know all about the options, but when I land in a foreign country after 20 odd hours of travel, and have a bed waiting... I really just want to take a taxi or hop on the bus or whatever... What I really do not want to have to do is schlep all over the airport looking for a working machine cuz I wasn't smart enough to pack a few bucks.

Also, with a short layover in Frankfurt I want to be able to pick up a few things without having to hassle with credit cards... Having lived in Europe I believe in Murphy's law. I'm not going to change thousands of dollars, but enough to get me through a strike, or avoid some of the horrific ATM fees (which can negate any savings, according to my daughter's last trip in Paris last year.

All of which was why I didn't want any lectures. LOL

Dukey1 -- not only did I google to DEATH but I even googled with the word "forex" -- I just couldn't remember the rest. It's a shame that you had to negate your kind act of supplying the information with the snide swipe. No one HAS to answer or help on this forum. But instead of saying "go google it" or "go look it up" you could just ignore the post. I spent an hour last night giving info to people about various spots that I know about -- sure they could look it up -- but I have the info at hand -- why not help? That's what's so fab about this forum -- the kindness of those who help! (Now if we can just that one person to STOP removing posts that mention names... grrr... lol)
TravelinFeet is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 04:22 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 241
Oh, that reminds me of the time I was driving from Cannes to Paris via the Alps. We ate dinner in Italy and I left all my cash as a tip... didn't know there was a toll before leaving Italy. Oops. I just looked at the guy, held my hands palm up and shrugged in the universal sign of "what are ya gonna do" and said "non-che piu" (obviously I don't speak Italian) then offered him francs or dollars -- he took the francs, lol.

It is just sooooo much easier to get a day's worth of money when you're here and not dealing with anything else... And of course I keep it in my money belt and/or other places that are less obvious than a wallet. (Heck, for Rome I'm considering carrying a walmart wallet stuffed with paper, so they steal that one and leave my real money alone lol. )

Thanks again to those who were helpful!

TF
TravelinFeet is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 05:44 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,734
Just moving money into a Chase account won't do you any good. You would need a credit card (I know of no US ATM cards with chips) with an actual chip in it, and I believe the fees for the available cards are quite high. I've managed without one, although it is annoying not to be able to buy train tickets in France, for instance, without standing in line to deal with a real person.

The way to avoid excessive bank fees - for both ATM and credit cards - is to use a bank that doesn't charge them. I have an on-line account with Capital One, in addition to their credit cards, for that very reason. It's also why I have a Credit Union account.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2012, 08:40 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,093
I'm an American living in Paris 7 months each year. I do very well using ATMs for all my cash requirements here in Paris and all throughout Europe including non-Euro zone countries. It's as simple as using ATMs in small town USA. Why complicate your life? I have and recommend a Capital One Credit card and Capital One savings account thus I pay no, zero, none ATM or foreign transaction fees with either the credit card or atm card.

As information I obtained an American Express Blue Card (with the chip) in hopes of being able to buy train tickets from the ticket machines in France but they do not work; you need a European card with chip. You can buy short distance tickets though since most station's machines now accept currency as well as coins. I renew my Navigo (Paris metro/RATP pass) that way all the time.
LarryJ is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2012, 09:15 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Try Andrews FCU...they offer a credit card with chip and pin with no annual fee.
xyz123 is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2012, 10:08 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,734
@xyz123 - That's very interesting, as I would love to have a chip and pin card. However, I can't find anything on the site that says who can join, only a reference to being within the "field of membership". Also, there's nothing on the credit card page about chip and pin.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2012, 10:20 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,867
I have just applied for and gotten an Andrews FCU CHIP and PIN card. It is a true card, no need for swipe. See this thread:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...redit-card.cfm

I have links on a post with FAQ's and where to apply. You do need to join the credit union but can do so with a $5 deposit. And you also need to join American Credit Council to join the credit union [since you won't belong to any of the groups] but that is free and can be done right from the application page to join credit union.

[There are no annual fees, but right now, I don't know what, if any, foreign transaction fees might be charged. Will know that tomorrow when I call; I just did all this on Friday.]

Join the credit union FIRST, then apply for the card, so you have a membership #.

And FYI, Chase has a debit/ATM card with a chip and pin. I could not find any chase credit card that has true CHIP and PIN.
DebitNM is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2012, 10:59 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,734
Thanks!
thursdaysd is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO