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Converting dollars to euros in the States before trip?

Converting dollars to euros in the States before trip?

Old Aug 14th, 2015, 11:59 AM
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Now that you know how to get Euro with lower fees than you first found out, the next way the financial companies fleece you is with DCC=Dynamic Currency conversion.

>>>I will mostly use my credit card methinks.

This is a pest you encounter using Credit Cards abroad. In simplest term, when you use your CC in Italy, the merchant will offer you a "benefit" of having the transaction done in dollars. You always select the local currency = Euro in Italy.

Explanation. There is no "benefit" for you AT ALL. NONE WHAT SO EVER in getting charged in dollars!!! If you have gotten the bite, you will parting with perhaps additional 6% cost for absolutely no reason.

They convert Euro to Dollar at abysmal rate favorable to the middle man in cahoots with the merchant. Both get cuts out of the deal. What these rascals hope you assume is that having you charged in dollars you imagine getting a favorable rate and knowing the amount to be charged. Neither mental imagery is correct.

You get hit with an abysmal conversion rate hidden from you.
Then you DO NOT avoid foreign TRANSACTION fee either. Those cards that do charge fees would mention foreign TRANSACTIONS and not foreign CURRENT conversion. By saying foreign TRANSACTION, the bank gets to collect the fee even if done in DOLLARS in Italy. If all your CC are zero foreign Transaction fee type, this is not an issue, but you will part with about 6% in DCC if you have taken the bite.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 12:02 PM
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But both my "normal" bank and CapitalOne 360 accounts have ATM cards that look exactly like credit cards: personalized with name embossed on the front and expiration dates, and visa or mastercard logos in the corner and holograms on the back. The only physical difference between them and a credit card is one says, "Check Card" and the other says, "Debit."

I am remembering (at least 20 years ago) when I did have an ATM card that was not a debit card and did not have my name on it, just a string of numbers that was somehow tied to my account. I assume that is what people are getting handed to them in person?
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 12:19 PM
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More on dynamic currency conversion using Credit Cards in Italy

>>>I will mostly use my credit card methinks.

If you read promotional materials from the DCC provider, you will understand why this is so prevalent. Here is an example right out of a sales pitch to businesses to use DCC:

<i><u>Benefits For You</u>
Gain extra revenue for your business without increasing your
base prices or affecting your competitiveness.

The extra DCC revenue grows as your business grows – the
more you sell the more extra DCC revenue you earn.</i>
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 12:33 PM
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Tom, many ATM cards are also debit cards. Given the lack of fraud protections for debit cards issued in the US, I try to avoid these cards. My local bank gives me an ATM-only card at my request - looks just like any other ATM/debit card, but without the Visa/MC logo. My brokerage gives me a debit card with the Visa logo on it, but I only ever use it in ATMs.

I'm glad Greg told you about DCC - it's one of those things people who have not traveled internationally don't know about, but it is a way for banks (and merchants) to fleece you.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 12:45 PM
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<i>looks just like any other ATM/debit card, but without the Visa/MC logo.</i>

It's not clear that such a card would work abroad. My ATM card needs the Visa logo since it is Visa that processes the conversion (1% fee).
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 12:52 PM
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I guess I am 5 years behind the times http://www.creditcards.com/credit-ca...mbers-1273.php
Since I get mailed a new debit card every 4 years at expiration local replacement has never come up.

RE DCC: I must be lucky but I have only run into it twice. A very touristy shop in Ft William, UK, and the Innsbruck, Austria, tourist information center.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 01:11 PM
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>>RE DCC: I must be lucky but I have only run into it twice. A very touristy shop in Ft William, UK, and the Innsbruck, Austria, tourist information center.<<

We encountered more of it last April in London, being asked fairly regularly about declining to be charged in dollars and actually being handed the machine in order to do press the button to do so. Judging from that, I'd guess this will become more common.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 02:04 PM
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>>You mean they set up the 3D type with your name, 16 digit number, and expiration date on it and stamp it right in the bank? Then ink on the black for the raised letters?<<

Yes -- all of the above . . .
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 02:10 PM
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<i I used the only ATM at terminal 1, FCO Rome (It was a Poste Italia ATM), and actually got a better rate than the going rate for that day-- I checked on xe.com, i.e. I "made money." No 1% charge, actually made money.</i>

Tom, that's my tax money the Poste Italiane gave you!
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 02:10 PM
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Trophy: that sucks because it is a scam. And why is a public entity like the tourist information office is doing that?

Another thing popping is having to press yes or no for leaving a tip or not. I noticed this in London last year and Copenhagen this year. After waiting 40 minutes for the check in the Copenhagen Wagamama (10 minutes to flag someone down then 30 minutes for the check to arrive including 5 minutes of standing and waiting) I rather resented being posed the question.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 02:18 PM
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Bvlenci: it could be that I got the following day's rate for the transaction or some midday rate. It's really hard to know what is going on. But my 4 Italian ATM withdrawals had way less than 1% charged, less than 0.5%, calculated using the closing day rate. I was just interested.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 02:21 PM
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Tom, I have it on good authority that tipping isn't required, you can simply leave your spare change, and that only stupid Americans who are attempting to ruin European culture tip.

Please resist all phoney attempts on the part of wait staff encouraging this practice, and for further reading look up the thread on tipping maids in France. Remember, dining is an all night event in Europe, so stop trying to subvert this, as well.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 03:59 PM
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Bookmarking
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 04:35 PM
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Sorry but this poster claims to be a "seasoned traveler" and yet continues post question after question that clearly indicates that. is not the case. Had to book airfare through Barcelona in order to get the lowest fare possible, then wants references and opinions on every private driver and private tour available because this just has to be the perfect trip.


Honestly in all my years on Fodors I've never seen the like. And that is as much as I will say. Anyone who cares to blast me for stating the obvious, feel free. I've stayed out of this one until now.

Jeez
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 05:17 PM
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No - they can give you ATM cards with Visa or MC logos on the spot - the blanks are made out that way - mine has MC although I don;t use it as a credit card but only to take money out of my checking account.

It just depends on how willing your bank is to be helpful.

My late mom had put her money in a local bank close to her house and they were useless - operating in the 19th century. The last time she ordered checks it took seven (7) weeks. When they didn;t come in 3 she called and they gave her the runaround. So at 4 weeks I started calling. Finally ended up with the branch manager who said there was nothing she could do - that's how the check company works.

Now, when I order new checks -Citibank but the same check company - they arrive in about a week or 10 days. Granted I order online. I told the manager that and she said she couldn;t help - since the local bank didn;t work that way (and she admitted she had at one point worked for Chase and knew people got their checks in about a week since the bank required it of the check company.)

So some of you who have trouble getting things quickly should investigate why your banks choose to do this.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 05:41 PM
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Sorry to have irked you so, Dayle. My deepest apologies.

You are never obliged to respond. Perhaps you are not aware. I apologize for not being as "seasoned" as you would have preferred or if I surpassed the acceptable number of posts for a particular trip. Sorry that I want my trip to be "perfect". As for Barcelona, it's one of my favorite cities and our friend in NYC is a manager of the Cosmos and has some connections with players there and turns out my son will be getting to meet some players on RC Barcelona (talk about "perfect"!) and YES it was a NON stop flight into Europe and we didn't mind having a long weekend in Spain. What's your issue? We clearly understood that paying for hotels and meals in Barcelona would make it much more expensive **overall** but non stop was really what we were after on our way out. And it's what we got. Plus a weekend in Barcelona. Win Win. I know how to use ITA Matrix as well as the next person and book a minimum of six flights each year. I generally get excellent deals.

I will be gone from these boards in a matter of days and considering my next five trips over the next 8 months will be based in North America, this Dumb American won't be needing any further assistance. My trip report will be shared via Facebook with the six or seven "friends" I made here who are also on Chowhound. And a few of the dinners might even be featured in a publication or two that you might or might not read. Thanks to my queries and the generosity of this board's members, I have managed to procure four things which would never have been possible:

1. A fantastic driver (with whom, incidentally, we will be dining one night and possibly even preparing tomatoes with one evening since we are missing the week we normally can them here in NYC...we've chatted many times...in Italian as I speak 5 languages... shocker!...and have managed to hit it off!)

2. A full day charter captain introduced to us by the aforementioned fantastic driver whose rate was HALF what we would have paid with Lucibello, L'uomo e mare, Blue Star etc

2. A beautiful villa in Sorrento I would never ever have even considered and that I am hoping will be the highlight of my trip

4. a Home Food dinner in Monti

Oh. And in keeping with the integrity of this thread... an ATM card! Which was issued in about 12 minutes at my local bank before work this morning.

My favorite part of YOUR S O L O trip to Italy report, Seasoned Traveler Extraorinaire, by the way.

"Roma - Day 8
Today was my reservation for the Borghese Gallery. My time slot was 11:00 am, but I was up early in search of cash. Turns out my ATM cards were not the same network as most of the Bancomat machines conveniently located absolutely everywhere."

I won't be having that problem, Dayle. I will have euro in hand.

Perhaps another trip or some more photos of "orphaned koalas hugging teddy bears" will make you less grumpy?
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 05:48 PM
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Yes, I seem to be behind times on bankcards by many years. I can't keep up.

RE "dining is an all night event in Europe": I can do a 2-3 hour dinner once a week, but not every night as happens on vacation. Most days I want to be in and out in an hour and get in some lie down time or a walk. There was one time we had 7:30 pm Vatican Museum tickets and had to leave, so I had to go out and get the waitress (smoking and sitting across the street on the back of a vespa alternating hugs with her boyfriend-- also on the vespa-- with drags on her cigarette) to get us the check.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 05:55 PM
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Believe me, Michael, my card works abroad. What is important on an ATM card is the network the card is on, like Cirrus.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 06:31 PM
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Does your Chase Saphhire card have a chip in it? It will be easier to use if it does. I think you can use the magnetic swipe still if it doesn't.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 06:56 PM
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After all of the queries and advice sought, and after all of the excellent advice and personal references you have been given, how very special to tell everyone you will be sharing your 'report' with a select few on Facebook and Chowhound. That is, if you can find the time with all the domestic travel you have planned. I have to say I am not surprised. The amount of name dropping and humble bragging over the past months, in the over 25 posts, has been at times pretty amazing. I had no idea you spoke, gasp, 5 languages or you had such personal futbol club connections in Barcelona. Well, now I do.

Your response above could not have been more rude.

Bon voyage.
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