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Converting dollars to euros in the States before trip?

Converting dollars to euros in the States before trip?

Old Aug 20th, 2015, 01:15 PM
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<i> I don't recall the dates, but when I looked at my statements after the trips, the amounts in dollars for the pre-bought euros and the ATM withdrawals for the same amount of euros were very close, so it was clear that there wasn't any funny business on the rate.</i>

And in both cases you could have been charged a conversion rate of 3%. Without checking with a site such as this one: http://www.xe.com/creditcard-charges-calculator/ there is no way to know how your exchange rate compares to the daily rate found by Googling "euro to dollar" the day of the conversion.
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 01:34 PM
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I assumed from the start that in both types of transactions the bank(s) involved were making money on the deal because they're providing a service--that you are never going to be able to change your money for foreign money, on a consumer basis, for free. The original question was about how you get cash for Europe in a way that is cost-efficient. My analysis--which I did pretty carefully before I did this the first time--was that it was about the same cost to order some euros ahead of time from my bank as it was to pull out an equivalent amount from an ATM in Europe. That was confirmed by looking at my bank statements afterward to see the amounts in dollars and the per-transaction flat fees.

I have in fact been charged steep fees from using European ATMs (in particular, in the Czech Republic). Whether that money goes to my bank or a European bank isn't the point. The point is, can you get some euros before you go, if you so desire, in a way that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and where you're not being taken advantage of? The answer is yes, at least from my bank. I'm not saying it's better than using an ATM in Europe, just that, for me, it came out about the same.
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 02:57 PM
  #143  
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Even though I said I wouldn't, I feel the need to come back to this thread just to clarify one small thing. NewB did NOT tell me about the thread. It was cut and pasted and sent to me in text screenshots by a friend from another site who is also on these boards. I had actually ignored it as I thought it was extremely petty, however when NewB brought it up in this present thread I felt I had to respond. He certainly did not tell me as I do not know him and he has no way of contacting me.

And YES the thread about Atlantis was written by a friend's kid who I said could post from my account for HER Sweet Sixteen. I'm 43. And didn't have a Sweet Sixteen. I think she ended up going on a Mexican cruise if I am not mistaken. And half the kids ended up getting sick. Not fun.

Barcelona is fabulous! Our hotel gave us this portable little modem type shebang that we carry in our bag and that gives us wifi so we can use Google etc whenever we need it without having to be in a wifi "area". Our cellular data plan only gave us unlimited texting and super minimal internet usage outside of wifi areas so this was really excellent. And it was a courtesy of the hotel. Absolutely free. And Paco Merlago and Tapeo were divine! The razor clams were as briny and sweet as I recall and the Padron peppers perfect!

NewB, sorry you had to take any heat!
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 03:11 PM
  #144  
 
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Remember travelers checks? Thank god those days are over.

I had no trouble identifying with Zenfoodist. Guess we pretentious New Yorkers are all alike.
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 07:35 PM
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Guess we now will sleep better tonight.
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 08:54 PM
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If you change money at an exchange booth, do you need to tip the person. If so, what is a fair %.
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Old Aug 21st, 2015, 03:12 AM
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>>>The original question was about how you get cash for Europe in a way that is cost-efficient. My analysis--which I did pretty carefully before I did this the first time--was that it was about the same cost to order some euros ahead of time from my bank as it was to pull out an equivalent amount from an ATM in Europe. That was confirmed by looking at my bank statements afterward to see the amounts in dollars and the per-transaction flat fees.<<<

The most cost-efficient way is using an ATM card issued by your home bank that doesn't charge fees (usually credit unions have the least fees). Ordering before you leave will cost more. You can't really do a "before" analysis except to find out the fee your bank charges to order the money and their mark-up on the money you get (they will ding you with both fees). Checking your bank statement means nothing unless you check history converters.

>>>I have in fact been charged steep fees from using European ATMs (in particular, in the Czech Republic). Whether that money goes to my bank or a European bank isn't the point. <<<<

If you used a bank ATM and were charged a fee, it was charged by YOUR bank, not the European bank. If you used a private ATM, they might have charged you a fee plus your bank would tack on their fee.

My CU used to give me the interbank exchange rate and no fees (not even the 1%). A few years ago, they started charging the 1%, but they still give me the cheapest rate for the day of the transaction (the interbank rate fluctuates during the day).
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Old Aug 21st, 2015, 04:11 AM
  #148  
 
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I guess nobody is interested in the original question since post 10 max.

It has turned into a gossip tread long ago.
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Old Aug 21st, 2015, 07:42 AM
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kybourbon: I don't think we're ever going to convince carlym . . .
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Old Aug 21st, 2015, 08:02 AM
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<i>I don't think we're ever going to convince carlym . . .</i>

True, but other readers might consider their options when planning their next trip.
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Old Aug 21st, 2015, 07:58 PM
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Ahh, a neat final bow on this thread's wrapping, circles back to the beginning and concludes
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Old Aug 21st, 2015, 08:28 PM
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The rate paid by the father was 5.5 percent. Yet an ATM card charging three percent plus five dollars comes out to 4.25 percent. So the rate the father paid was not unreasonable.

Admittedly he will not have the adrenaline rush that comes with wondering if ATMs will be available and working when he arrives. He won't have the joy of walking around for thirty minutes to an hour looking for an ATM that will take his card. He won't get to experience having his card eaten, and all his vacation plans go up in smoke.

Do any of you know of an insurance policy that travelers can buy that will compensate them for eaten ATM cards or form having to spend their very, very, very valuable vacation time looking for an ATM? I figure I would want an immediate payment of $5,000 for an eaten ATM card and $1,000 if I had to spend more than 10 minutes looking for a machine that would work. Whatever the cost of that policy would be is what it costs to arrive in Europe with nothing but an ATM card.

There is nothing wrong with using an ATM card, but you should arrive with a wad of cash and keep one with you at all times.
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Old Aug 21st, 2015, 08:54 PM
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FHurdle: >>He won't have the joy of walking around for thirty minutes to an hour looking for an ATM that will take his card. <<

Oh come on . . .

>>but you should arrive with a wad of cash and keep one with you at all times.<<

Absolutely ridiculous. A <i>wad</i> -- seriously?

How about the panic one feels that wad is lifted by a pick pocket on the Metro?



>>Yet an ATM card charging three percent plus five dollars comes out to 4.25 percent.<<

I have no ATM cards that charge 3%. One adds nothing, and three add 1%. One does charge $5 - but they refund that $5 up to 4 X a month. And I only use that ATM as a back up. My other ATM cards charge $0, $1.50, and $3 (and that one also refunds the fee monthly)
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Old Aug 22nd, 2015, 01:07 AM
  #154  
 
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Waw
'compensate them for eaten ATM cards '
' $1,000 if I had to spend more than 10 minutes looking for a machine that would work'

Don't know where you live. I use ATM's every week. Got 3 cards 'eaten' in over 20 years. And got my cards back the next day from the bank nearest the ATM.

10 min looking for an ATM - like in Paris ? And how much time would you allow to find a bank ? One that is open, on top of it...

99,9% of the ATM's I ve been to were in working order.
France is not a third world country with no running water and even less working ATMs.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2015, 04:16 AM
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Some day I hope to see a post here:

"We found when we returned from our European vacation that our bank actually charged us a fee of $5 each time we used an ATM. In addition they added a 1 percent service charge." We figured that for the two times we used ATM's, this actually cost us an additional $15 total on top of the amount of $9,750 we were already spending on our trip. This is outrageous. Now I know that I should have researched to find a bank with a better ATM rate, switched banks before I left, and spent the time looking for the appropriate partner banks to avoid fees while enjoying Europe. I am currently seeing a psychiatrist for the outrageous stress, this horrendous expense has cost me."

I'll admit that I sometimes get caught up in these discussions telling people to change banks to get a better ATM deal, etc., but honestly in the grand scheme of European vacations -- how much total money is being saved and how much effort is going to changing banks and then limiting yourself to searching for the right ATM? It's a vacation, for heaven's sake, most of us would spend more on a nice ice cream in the afternoon that we'll spend in ATM fees on a two week vacation.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2015, 06:07 AM
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pariswat,

You may have only had three cards eaten in 20 years, but if one of your cards was eaten on a Friday afternoon with no possibility of getting it back until Monday you would be more careful.

My having to search for working ATMs was in Italy, but I haven't found France to be full of them, either. Dealing with the ATM takes time. Frequently there are people using it, thus causing a huge wait. Sometimes they are broken, and my wife's card doesn't work at some machines for some reason.

I will say that I used to convert about $2,000 before a European trip and then take another thousand or so in American currency. I would put as much as possible on my credit card. On my last trip I found that in many areas it is now virtually impossible to exchange actual currency, even at ridiculous exchange rates. So for my next trip I'm going to learn how to get a cash advance on my credit card or else get a pre-paid debit card. I will not get a bank debit card because they almost always result in all of one's money being drained out of one's checking account through fraud.

At any rate, my point is the five percent upcharge that many banks get for euros (with no added fees) is a small price to pay for the huge convenience involved. I've actually exchanged for as little as three percent, for what it's worth.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2015, 06:28 AM
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"I will not get a bank debit card because they almost always result in all of one's money being drained out of one's checking account through fraud."

That's a rather bold statement. Do you have any sources to back that up?

I don't know anyone personally who had their checking account drained. It does happen, but usually when people are careless with their card and pin number.

Everyone uses debit cards where I live - you could simply not function without one. You cannot get cash from a bank without a card, we don't use cheques, and not all shops take credit cards.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2015, 07:05 AM
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<So for my next trip I'm going to learn how to get a cash advance on my credit card or else get a pre-paid debit card.>

And you were complaining about fees using a debit at the ATM?? Cash advances on a CC are just about the single most expensive way to get funds!
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Old Aug 22nd, 2015, 07:31 AM
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>>>The rate paid by the father was 5.5 percent. Yet an ATM card charging three percent plus five dollars comes out to 4.25 percent. <<<

Who would be foolish enough to have an ATM card with those crazy rates?

>>>Admittedly he will not have the adrenaline rush that comes with wondering if ATMs will be available and working when he arrives<<<

Like exiting baggage claim and walking 20 feet to the multiple ATM's? It's not like you don't have to exit where everyone else does. I travel to Italy often and never have a problem finding an ATM. There is no way you aren't finding multiple ATM's in the airports.

>>>He won't get to experience having his card eaten<<<

I've never had a card eaten (in the US or abroad).

>>>So for my next trip I'm going to learn how to get a cash advance on my credit card or else get a pre-paid debit card.<<<

Wow. Talk about fees. Cash advance on credit cards is like taking a loan and interest accrues from the day you get it. Pre-paid debit cards charge you to load the card, give you a lousy exchange rate, charge you to use the card and if any money is left when you return, sock the fees to you again. Probably the two worst ways to get money. You are more likely to get pickpocketed those big wads of cash than having a card eaten or not finding an ATM.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2015, 07:34 AM
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"I will not get a bank debit card because they almost always result in all of one's money being drained out of one's checking account through fraud."

Almost as dumb and bizarre a statement as "I'll never fly because airplanes almost always result in crashing and killing all passengers."

Actually, I'm even wondering if more people have died in plane crashes than have had their entire bank accounts wiped out via ATM fraud. Just curious. But "almost always"? Was this supposed to be a joke?
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