currency

Old Apr 15th, 2005, 06:52 PM
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currency

Is it easier to handle your money by: travelers checks, ATM's, or charge cards? Coming from the States and just a little concerned. Is it easier to exchange money at the airport or at one of the banks?

Appreciate any help, first time to the UK and can't wait!!
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Old Apr 15th, 2005, 07:03 PM
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This question comes up a lot, so here goes my canned speech: ATM is by far the best way to go. You will get a better exchange and pay the least amount in fees by using the ATM. Exchanging traveler's checks is a thing of the past. If you want to bring a few hundred in US$ in cash or traveler's checks as a back-up only, then that's OK, but do not plan on using them unless something really strange happens and the ATMs aren't working. Odds of that are very slim, but if your ATM card gets lost or stolen you will be glad to have a plan B. Many Fodorites recommend having a spare ATM card from an account on a different bank, but that's up to you. I don't think the following is necessary, but if you want to get a few pounds at home that's OK, but don't get very many because the exchange rate you will get in the US is TERRIBLE. That goes for both banks and the airport. Credit cards are good for large purchases. Have a great trip.
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Old Apr 15th, 2005, 08:18 PM
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THanks, that helps alot. First time to UK and really excited. I'll plan on the ATM's. Do you remember what the fee to use them is?
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Old Apr 15th, 2005, 08:46 PM
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My own way of handling cash & currency overseas, geniemom, is to carry along a little of each for a diversified wallet: always several hundred dollars or more in US cash; a thousand or two in travelers checks; about one hundred dollars in the foreign currency of the destination; 2 bank cards; and 3 or 4 credit cards. Many persons will tell you that one bank card and one credit card are sufficient; however, one of each is NOT sufficient. You might lose a credit card; a bank machine might eat a bank card, always after hours of course; computer systems might go down, electronic systems might fail, etc. Better to have more than one credit card and one bank card with you. Many persons will also tell you that travelers checks are old-fashioned; well, actually they are old-fashioned, just like wearing socks and underwear. Even though you will be charged a transaction fee to cash travelers checks, you will also be clobbered with the same 3% transaction fee on your credit card purchases and your ATM withdrawls. So, as you can see, using travelers checks is not a bad thing to do; moreover, they are insured. By the way: many persons will say that purchasing foreign currency here in the US before departure is not necessary and that you can do that upon arrival. Well, yes, you can certainly do it then. But be mindful that you will be tired and perhaps fatigued when you disembark from the plane. You may also have some heavy luggage to haul around with you. Will you really be in the mood to wander about looking for the foreign exchange booth? Having the foreign currency already in your wallet provides a good measure of peace of mind. Enjoy your trip; tally-ho!
 
Old Apr 15th, 2005, 08:47 PM
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There's no fee charged by the UK bank, but check with your home bank to see if they charge anything.
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Old Apr 16th, 2005, 06:03 AM
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Good grief, I wouldn't want to keep up with 2-3 debit and 3-4 credit cards!

One ATM card and 2 different C.Cds is more than sufficient. If anything happens to the ATM card, you can fall back on the C.C. My husband keeps one and I keep one. Travelers checks are insured but they're a pain in - - - to use. I do like having some starter currency, but that's an individual choice. I do carry a small amt of US to have for the airport small expenditures. Anything that I'm not using 'today' goes into the money belt.
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Old Apr 16th, 2005, 06:24 AM
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Geniemom,
Check out this thread about ATM fees
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...t=0&dirtyBit=1.

UK bank ATMs do not charge a fee for use. But there are lots of charging ATMs there. These are supposed to be labeled clearly and disclose their fees before you complete the transaction. These are usually located in convenience stores and casinos but are starting to pop up in heavily touristed areas as well.
If you want to avoid UK ATM fees, look for the bank label on the ATM and read the screen carefully for fees.

Your own bank may charge an out-of-network fee for use of the UK ATMs. This is separate from any fees that may be charged by the local ATM. You need to check with your bank about their out-of-network fees.

I personally use CC everywhere. I have one that only charges the usual 1% MC conversion fee and nothing more. I travel to the UK very frequently and save my pounds for my next trip. Otherwise, I get some from the ATM on arrival. Have not used TC in ages.
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Old Apr 16th, 2005, 06:38 AM
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niblette, could you tell us please which bank issues MC with a 1% fee? Thanks.
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Old Apr 16th, 2005, 06:40 AM
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USAA Federal Savings Bank M/C only charges the 1% conversion fee.
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Old Apr 16th, 2005, 06:43 AM
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Thank you Budman.
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Old Apr 16th, 2005, 07:19 AM
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You don't have to worry about money while travelling in Europe any more than you would while travelling in the US. An ATM or Check Card from VISA or MC, a couple of credit cards (again VISA and MC) and thats about it. The typical moderate and up hotel and restaurant in Europe accepts plastic.
In the very rare event you have a problem with ATMs, you might consider bringing one hundred USD per person to exchange at a bank or cambio at a poor rate. I haven't done this in years, so I have no idea what the current fees would be.
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Old Apr 16th, 2005, 08:53 AM
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Thanks everyone, all suggestions taken and considered. JohnWM, that was pretty much what I had in mind. Helps to see someone else is one the same wavelengh.
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Old Apr 16th, 2005, 09:31 AM
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I think 6 cards (2 + 3-4) is a little over the top. However many you take, make sure you write down all the information in case you should need to cancel them.

For me: 1 ATM, 1-2 charge card, 200 local currency, 300 US currency, is plenty to make me feel secure.

ATM fees, if applicable, come from your home bank.
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