Currency exchange advice needed

Old Jun 10th, 2007, 03:59 AM
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Currency exchange advice needed

Hello! I am about to go back to America after an amazing semester in Paris (bittersweet... I miss home but love it here!).

I have a quick question as far as currency exchange goes. I am going to close my French bank account, and there are about 250 Euros left in it that I assume they will give me in cash. What is the best way to convert these back to US dollars so that I get a good rate? What country should I do it in- France or the US? Currency exchange booths give such awful rates that I would really rather not use them.

Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks!
allyseinparis is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 04:03 AM
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Ask for your money in dollars. Do not bring euros back to the USA.
hopscotch is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 04:05 AM
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Hi A,

Take the cash in Euros and bring it home with you for your next visit.

ira is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 05:36 AM
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Or better still, keep your account open and access the cash with your ATM card next time you are in Euro countries (there shouldn't be an extra charge for withdrawing in eurozone outside of France).
Though I can understand why you want to close it as the banks demand account maintenance fee each month.
Alec is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 06:50 AM
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Here is a wild, unconventional thought, but one that I have experienced.

I live in a university town and upon occasion I have swapped dollars for euros with a returning student. We agreed on the wholesale bank rate as our exchange basis.

The student got a better rate than offered by any bank and I got a slightly better rate plus convenience. I wanted to have some € in my pocket when I landed to preclude hunting for an ATM at the airport.

Perhaps you could do the same.

Too bad you are not a UGA student or we could swap here before I leave in August.
bob_brown is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 07:13 AM
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OK - I don't know for sure - when I had an english bank account it was before ATMs were widespread -- but . . .

Wouldn't the same advice hold for euro to dollar exchanges as for dollar to euro? To use an ATM. Can you wait until returning to the States to close your account? if so, you could withdraw the money at home and then close the acct.

Of course if you have to close the acct in person in Paris, that wouldn't work.
janisj is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 07:31 AM
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We are assuming here that to close the account and take dollars would result in an unfavorable exchange rate. I know in the US, any dollar to euro transaction costs me 5% above the wholesale bank rate.

What I do not know is how bad it would be at a Paris bank. Based on my previous experiencea in pre euro days, any exchange resulted in a loss because of fees or disguised exchange rate markups.

I remember once we arrived in Lausanne and discovered I had 60 French francs stuck in a pocket in my passsport case. I had no recall of putting them there. I bit the bullet and swapped them at a Swiss bank at a rate that was a good 6% above the wholesale interbank rate.
(The advent of the euro was imminent.)

I know for a fact that exchanging euro notes in the US will undoubtedly result in a punitive exchange rage. Any time I have talked with returning students who had euro notes, they told me that the euro to dollar exchange rate was very bad.

Let's make two assumptions. 1. If you exchange with an ATM card here, you will get the wholesale rate plus about 1% to Visa or MC. 2. If you obtain dollars in Paris, you get a rate that is as much as 5% higher than the wholesale rate.

If the assumptions hold up, and if you have an aTM card on the Paris bank, could you not send it home to someone you can trust and have them draw the account down close to zero? Then close out the residual and take it in dollars? Even if the percentage rate is bad the absolute loss would be minimal.

At a penalty of 5% for the exchange we are talking about 12.50€ or $17.00.
That may be paltry to someone who pays income tax on $250,000 or more, but it was not to me when I was a student.

Of course we don't know the time frame.
bob_brown is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 07:32 AM
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Because I (am lucky) get to travel abroad quite a bit, I have a number of bags of different currencies. I always bring home my left-overs, for the next trip!! It's great to hit the ground with currency in hand, enough to get started and maybe even last for several days! Just my opinion.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 07:37 AM
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Can you even get dollars in a French bank? Maybe at the airport. I think it's going to be euros at the bank.
Can you pay off some bills, or buy stuff you need?
Gretchen is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 08:05 AM
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Can you get dollars at a French bank?

That one is in the same league as the story about the old timer who went to Gare d'Orsay to take a train to Bordeaux. He got so interested in looking at the paintings that he missed his train.

In fact, he couldn't find it.

You know folks, the returning student might just need that money after she gets home, and has not planned a future trip.

Those euros are not worth a hoot in hades in the US if you need lunch on a busy day and funds are short.

brookwood is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 10:12 AM
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Go to an ATM in the US and withdraw the money there
alanRow is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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I'm not one to play currency exchange games, but, given the future USD prospects, if the account has no maintenance charges, I would leave the money there.
We have small, (legaland non-US taxable) accounts here in Mexico for "emergency" purposes.
mikemo is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 10:48 AM
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There was a stroy here not so long ago of someone buying euro on eBay..and paying a good price for them.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2007, 10:51 AM
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Notwithstanding all the comments from folks who go back and forth to Europe and thus would keep the account or take the euros -- if you are not going back then get the US greenbacks. Every bank in France will give you dollars for euros.

As for keeping the account open, the bank will probably close it in a year and send you a check because that amount of money is of little interest to them. My Swiss and German banks closed my accounts with higher balances. My Dutch bank has more respect for my meagre account, which facilitates my travels.

hopscotch is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2007, 09:18 AM
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hey everyone! thanks for all the advice- i think what i will end up doing is not closing my account and just taking the card back with me to the US. i will just take cash out using ATMs, and the residual will be sent to me when the account is automatically closed.

what great advice... i never would have thought of that on my own! thanks so much!
allyseinparis is offline  
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