Euros - Cash or ATM or CC

Sep 20th, 2006, 08:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 19
Euros - Cash or ATM or CC

Hi all,

I know this has been asked several times before but thought I could get specifics from some of you on this (I know wishful thinking):

1. I have a Bank of America Check card (ATM): does anyone know the fees to withdraw in Italy and Greece? I know in France B of A has an arrangement with BNP Paribas. Do you know how they determine exchange rate? What additional fees as a percentage are charged?

2. Is it advisable to just carry Euros in Cash - say about 700 for a 9 day trip (rely on Credit card for rest)

3. I have a Citibank credit card and they told me they charge 3% foreign fees but use the Wall Street Journal exchange rate on the day. Is that bad? Sounds like the exchange rate would be better than any Exchange store.

Please advise.
sleeplesstraveler is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 08:10 PM
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1. There are sometimes slight differences in various types of BankofAmerica accounts, but generally speaking they will charge you $5 for each un-affiliated ATM withdrawal in a foreign country. My account with BofA, however, waives the first two of those charges each month.

The exchange rate should be the same as the current "interbank rate" -- I use to find that. To that they add 1% which is a separate line on your statement. However, I found this summer that they actually started with a rate that was 1% lower than the rate for the same day as the transaction was recorded. So once they added their 1% I was getting the actual rate.

There are no affiliated banks in Italy or Greece to avoid the fees.

2. For two of us, we tend to go through about 300 euro per 10 days to 2 weeks. We charge most things.

3. Apparently the Wall Stree Journal rate is the same as the rate as that's what I always compare my Citibank credit card charges with. Yes. Visa adds 1% to that and Citibank adds 2% more.
Many find that outrageous and apparently there are still a few cards you can get to avoid at least that last 2% (CapitalOne and Credit Unions, for example).

But you are right that even with 3% added it is probably considerably better than you can get exchanging money.

Sep 21st, 2006, 08:47 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 19
thanks for your detailed reply Neo.

Would you believe that none of the B of A customer service reps I spoke with, could tell me the ATM fees/conversion %. I spoke to about 5 reps over 2 days and even visited a large banking center in San Francisco !!

Thanks for your help.
sleeplesstraveler is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 12:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
B of A does reduce your wealth by 3% everytime you use the credit card.

Capitol One, as I described in a post now sunk very low on the list, does NOT.

I cited actual charges, the daily exchange rate, and the price I actually paid in US dollars.

Go with Capitol One unless you have a brokerage firm account that charges zero.

bob_brown is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 12:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,491
Hi S,

Use your credit card when possible. Use your ATM card for cash.

I wouldn't go walking around with 700E in cash.

ira is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 12:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 93,125
My BoA/ATM gets $5 a pop plus 1% conversion (i'm planning on changing banks soon!)
suze is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 02:09 PM
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Suze, but did you compare the exchange rate with the current rates? Did you read my statement above. I don't care if they want to add 20% so long as they've discounted the exchange rate by 20% before adding it back on. Who cares if there is a 1% fee if they've also discounted the rate by 1%?
Again, I'm not sure if that's some sort of bonus I got with my type account, but it's sure worth checking out.

Incidentally, with two of us each getting two free "non-affiliated" withdrawals each month and using partner banks in other countries, that $5 fee doesn't mean much to us either.
Sep 21st, 2006, 02:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,746
Using euros or taking them in hand for use during the trip is the best (IMO) but not always an option. You will get the best price for something because when using your ATM/check card and your Visa, you will be charged a transaction fee each time. Regardless of the bank (my "bank" is a credit union with no fees for withdrawal in the U.S.) however in Italy, I am always charged a fee when withdrawing cash. While the amounts are small, they still add up.

The only advantages to using a credit card is 1) getting miles or points credit on your purchases and 2) not having to carry around a lot of cash. In the end, that makes up for the fees you may incur while using it. If you do end up taking euros with you, I would take just enough to start you on your trip (like 200 e or so) then you could use the ATM later on to get out more. The current exchange rate as of today (9/21) is 1 euro = 1.26814 USD
Huitres is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 07:23 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 19
Hello all...

I spoke with a customer service agent and a manager finally at B of A that mentioned that if I withdrew cash from affiliated banks in certain countries there would be no charge or conversion fee -- just the exchange rate.

I am listing the affiliated banks he mentioned to me in the countries that I am visiting (my apologies for spelling errors):

Banqua Antoniana
Banqua Nazionale
Banqua Lavoro

Alpha Credit
Commercial Bank of Greece
Ergo Bank
Ionian and Popular Bank
National Bank of Greece
Athinai Bank, Athens

BNP Paribas


sleeplesstraveler is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 07:51 PM
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I'm not going to shoot the messenger, but frankly I have a hard time swallowing the idea that BofA has 6 different partner banks in Greece.

Considering the track record of BofA people not having a clue what they're talking about, I'm almost willing to bet you've found another of those.
Sep 21st, 2006, 08:04 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 19
you are absolutely sounds rather suspect having that many partners in Greece

However, he was correct about BNP Paribas. I know that from experience albeit couple of years ago.

Also, I should clarify that there are other banks in France -- I just did not care to know which ones since I know a couple of Paribas locations.

I had them denote my account that this is what they advised. So you know what, I may just try it out in the interests of research and the greater good of those on these forums.

au revoir, andio sas, ciao, goodbye --

sleeplesstraveler is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 08:07 PM
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There are other partner banks in France besides BNP Paribas? That's major news to me and contrary to anything I've ever heard. If he told you there are more, then I think that makes his other list seem even more unlikely.
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