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Buying Euros prior to departure or using an ATM

Buying Euros prior to departure or using an ATM

Jul 13th, 2011, 05:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 346
Buying Euros prior to departure or using an ATM

I have to pay cash for an apartment in Italy during our vacation. I would normally just withdraw from an ATM but I have a question on rates. The conventional wisdom is ATM withdrawal exchange rates are "wholesale" rates, which are much better than the retail "sell" rate banks give. I Bank with Citibank and I just checked the rate for buying Euros in NYC, and its 1.48. However, the official exchange rate I see on the web is currently 1.407. Citibank charges 3% for all ATM withdrawals overseas, so assuming I get an ATM exchange rate of 1.41 (hypothetically speaking using the live rate now) plus 3% I still come out lower than what the Bank is charging to buy Euros here. Is my thinking correct that going the ATM route, even with the 3% charge is the better one?
AKR1 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2011, 05:32 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 396
Depending upon how much you take out in advance, there is probably no real difference.
See if you can get an ATM card that charges no fees (Schwab) or less than 3% before you leave.
JerryS is offline  
Jul 13th, 2011, 05:51 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,525
I think you will find that euros will be cheaper via an ATM in Italy. There is less overhead to supply euros in Europe.

One thing to remember is that you will probably need multiple withdrawals if a large amont is needed. There are two limits...your 'account' limit and the ATM's limit. You can do several ATM withdrawals in a row, until your account daily limit is reached. You might consider seeing if your bank can raise your limit. Also (I believe this applies to Italy, does to UK and France) the ATM will not allow you to choose checking or savings account, it will select your 'primary' account, so need to have funds stored in right place.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Jul 13th, 2011, 06:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
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You want to tell your bank to set your withdrawal limit high. Each ATM use will cost you a fee from the ATM owner as well as from your bank. Last month in France it cost me $5 for the one use (my limit is very high and I take out more than I think I'll need and save the rest for my next trip).
winnick is offline  
Jul 13th, 2011, 06:47 AM
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Winnick brings up a good point, but not every country's banks charge a fee to use their ATMs. For example, no bank in Ireland charges a fee to use one of their ATMs. The only fees you pay in Ireland are those which are assessed by your bank in the U.S. Perhaps an "expert" on Italy can say whether Italian banks charge a fee to use their ATMs or not.

If there are no high fees charged by the Italian banks, you should do better by getting your euros in Italy rather than from a bank in the U.S. before you depart.

Also, very good information from Michel on the daily limits.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2011, 06:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 47,430

NOT TRUE! The ATM owner in Europe charges nothing, unless you use a "private" ATM, meaning one not affiliated with a bank. The ONLY charges will come from your own bank, which is why it pays to shop around for a bank like mine that charges nothing.
StCirq is online now  
Jul 13th, 2011, 07:16 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 170

I have never, ever, in any European country, been charged when using an ATM except charges from my own bank (they, a Swedish bank, charge a fee when withdrawing money from an ATM in a non Euro country).

So I do believe that StCirq is 100% right.
hoxa61 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2011, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,921
Depending on your departure date you might be able to set up an account with a bank or credit union that charges at most the 1% conversion fee. BofA does not charge if you use a partner bank (BNI affiliated with BNP-Paribas in Italy). If you travel abroad annually or more frequently, you might decide to set up a travel account where you deposit your travel money before departure. I use a credit union, but it is not convenient for States side withdrawals, so I use a bank for my non-travel transactions.
Michael is offline  
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