Converting dollars to euros

Sep 23rd, 2007, 11:01 AM
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rfc- Sure, credit cards are fine. Different ones have different foreign transactions fees and exchange rates. You'll want to specifically check the ones you use.
suze is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 11:17 AM
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Jam, where will you be in Italy? I can tell you off the bat that, regardless of what the website tells you, Rome does not have a Citibank ATM, however, Milan does, and it's right off Galleria Vittorio (entering through the Duomo entrance, walk until you see a bunch of people spinning around {it's right by the TIM store}, make a left until you walk out of the Gallery, and then look right).

Citibank will charge you 3% regardless of whether you have the Mastercard/Visa logo on your ATM card. Citibank charges the 3% to cover "mandatory fees." B.S. Mastercard and Visa charge 1% for their fees.

If you travel enough though, I would recommend you look at other banks. In NYC, for now, Commerce does not charge you anything extra in terms of foreign fees if you withdraw from your checking account.

And get enough €s on your way home for your next trip abroad!
mcnyc is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 11:53 AM
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we just got back from florence and since we forgot to take our debit cards -duh
we used our AMEX. we think they charge a one time transaction fee but nothing else..
jaimeenid is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 12:01 PM
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Do you mean you used your AMEX as a credit card, or to withdraw money from an ATM?
NeoPatrick is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 01:39 PM
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smoot60 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 02:03 PM
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jamieenid, if you used AMEX to get cash, you might be in for an ugly surprise when your bill arrives.
P_M is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 02:39 PM
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Gee you have so much info already I don't know if this is helpful, but I just got back from Florence and Rome. What worked for me was this. I used my credit cards for ALL hotel charges. Capital One chraged the exchange rate 1.387 (9-14) and added 1% which is a good rate. My WF ATM charged $5 ATM Fee and converted at 1.387 + 1%.
I paid $286.32 for 200 Euro. Don't panic on the exchange. Overall the percentage increase is NOT as bad as it looks in the short term. If oyu planned your trp with a budget of X$ then an increase of a couple of percentage points isn;t that bad to absorb. It's not like your buying a car there. Most improtantly ENJOY yoursef. If you need to spend a little more then do so, but don't go with a budget so tight that you don't reay enjoy things (e.g."Gee If have this for lunch I can't have that for diner..etc.")
josep55 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 05:35 PM
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If you are going to arrive in Rome and take the train to Termini, there is a change booth one block away that will give you the interbank rate. I dont know how they make money at it, but they've been doing it for years.

Walk out of termini on the via Marsala side, cross the street and turn left. Walk one block to via Vicenza. On the corner is a money exchange. They charge no commission and give a rate as good as you'll get from an ATM.
Hal8999 is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 07:08 AM
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I just got back from a sit-down meeting at Citibank here in NYC, where they said if I use my Citibank "gold" (I call it orange) card at a Citibank branch to get cash in Italy, they won't charge the 3%. Then I called the Citibank Via Leone X branch in Florence, and they told me the same time, as long as I use my debit card. There is still the conversion rate. They have a window open for "cash withdrawals" until 7 pm. I'm going to try this, but want to know...does anyone think it's a bad idea?
Alloro_beata is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 08:36 AM
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Correction: Those with a CItibank gold (orange) card will pay 1% at any atm, and those with a blue card pay 3% at atms.
Alloro_beata is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 04:11 PM
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Alloro, thanks for your information. I immediately called Citibank and to make matters more confusing the conversion rate between 1 and 3% is not always based on your color code of debit card. My husband and I are on the same checking account and he has an orange and I a blue card. I am the primary person on the account. After reading your post I called Citibank and was told that it depends on the type of account you have established. The CS agent looked through our account history and told me that I will be charged a 1% conversion rate, a relief because I was told by someone else at the bank that I would be charge 3%. Mind you the first person I talked to told me the same information you gave gold card 1% blue card 3%. I had to do further checking and probably won't know till I come back and look at my statements to see what I really got charged. Bottom line, each individual has to call their bank to find out, there's no standard rule of thumb. I thank-you for posting your findings.
Jam is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 04:39 PM
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lol, jam-
I am still recovering from the afternoon I walked half way across Rome to get to the Citibank branch behind the American Embassy, only to find them closed "for a long lunch"! Arggh! The guy on the phone at the FLorence Citibank was properly flirty though, so that made the conversation fun! It would be funny to compare Citibanks in Italy to CItibanks in the US. Sort of like comparing McDonalds!
Alloro_beata is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 09:21 PM
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PM - what kind of ugly surprise?
We looked at the site and it said that we'd only be charged a transaction fee but nothing else.
Calling rite now !!!
jaimeenid is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 09:26 PM
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neo patrick.. i used the AMEX to withdraw from an ATM
jaimeenid is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 09:27 PM
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You folks who think asking customer service will help at all, just haven't been around the block enough times. I have found (and many threads on here indicate most financial inst's are equally bad) that they almost NEVER know what they are talking about. Whether it's international banking, ATM fees/rates, partner banks, or anything else. They will tell you just about anything, and if you call back in 10 mins and speak to a different CS agent - you'll get a different answer. They just don't know which end is up.
janisj is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 10:25 PM
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yes, janusj, but, I have been traveling to Italy once or twice a year for the past 7 years, and stll I find it important to make these calls to my bank and credits card companies before each and every trip.

Yes, there are different answers each time, which is frustrating. And it goes without saying that even with careful research, there can be surprises at the end of the trip.

Do you have a good practical suggestion of a better way to work with the flawed system that's in place? My only strategy has been to travel with a variety of optional ways to get cash, as best I can. If you know of a good solution, please let us know!
Alloro_beata is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 10:40 PM
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Since you say you already know they don't give you correct info - why do you keep bothering w/ it?

I merely call my bank/credit union/cc issuers to tell them my itinerary (so they won't block the cards) and don't ask them anything. I know more what my bank charges will be than just about any CS agent I've ever spoken w/.
janisj is offline  
Sep 25th, 2007, 12:59 AM
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This is not the first time that people have discussed the question of getting insufficient or inaccurate information from banks in the US about their charges. It does not surprise me that individual customer service staff might not know about the less often invoked services, but it does surprise me that using ATMs in Europe falls into that category.

I'm no fan of Irish banks, but if I want information about the charges for various types of transaction, I can phone and they will send me out a leaflet telling me what's what. That way, staff don't have to memorise things, and I know where I stand.

What happens in the US if you are given information on the phone or across the counter and you ask to have it confirmed in writing?
Padraig is offline  
Sep 25th, 2007, 05:52 AM
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Every month I get a detailed statement from both American Express and Visa. These statements spell out in great detail exactly what their methods, costs and such are. They also advise that if I am unhappy with their methods how I can terminate my relationship with them. As a teacher I am aware that many people simply cannot comprehend these messages. Anecdotal information from Fodor's is not shall we say, a legal foot print. Why not query your lawyer with your questions? A second choice; chances are that if you phrase your questions correctly and pose them to your credit or debit card source you will get a correct answer. Good luck..
GSteed is offline  
Sep 25th, 2007, 06:02 AM
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GSteed, I think you are being naive in your reaction to getting answers from "banks". It is not so much a matter of phrasing questions correctly to get a proper answer. The bottom line is that many bank employees including those on the national telephone lines simply DO NOT KNOW. I have been told such absurd things as "if you put your American ATM card in an ATM machine in Europe you will get US dollars out". And "yes, we can provide you with foreign currency before you go and there is no charge". "Oh, at what rate of exchange?" "The same as you'd be getting over there -- the actual current bank rate". WRONG!

And while you may talk all your want about all that fine print on the statements -- no where on mine does it ever give an actual final percentage amount for the currency conversion charge. No where! It talks about how the charges are figured, but there is no way to tell from those statements whether it might end up being one, two, or three percent above current bank rates.

And your suggestion to query an attorney to get the answers to your questions is patronizing at best.
NeoPatrick is offline  

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