Exchange rate: Best bang for your buck

Old Sep 25th, 2007, 03:26 PM
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Exchange rate: Best bang for your buck

I am leaving for the UK this week and I was wondering what the current best deal is for exchanging money. As we all know, the American dollar is shrinking drastically. My question is: Should I exchange money in the US or England or should I use the ATM's in England or use credit? I know that a three percent charge is added from US banks when money is taken out of ATM. Another question is, Would it be better to exchange dollars to pounds in US or UK? Can anyone provide advice on this matter? Thanks.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 03:41 PM
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Please do a search here on currency, ATM, exchange,etc...

This is a very common question and there are many many threads with plenty of info.

Short answer...ATMs using debit card (not credit card)
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 03:53 PM
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Thanks for the help. I will look in the Fodor's website.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 04:03 PM
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Check with your bank on any additional charges when using your ATM card outside of the country of issue to get local cash ... For me was cheaper to bring cash into a specific country and exchange locally in exchange booths...
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 04:08 PM
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>> should I use the ATM's in England <<

Use ATMs in England. Try to open a checking account in a Credit Union at home if you still have time to do so and use their card, which does not charge the 3% to withdraw from your balance.

>> Would it be better to exchange dollars to pounds in US or UK? <<

In using ATMs, you'll not be 'exchanging' dollars for pounds - you'll receive pounds in cash.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 04:09 PM
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"I know that a three percent charge is added from US banks when money is taken out of ATM."

No. No. A thousand times no. I guess a very few banks do that, but some charge nothing at all. Most seem to charge 1%. Some have an additional per transaction fee. But it is downright wrong to say you KNOW that US banks do that -- because most of them don't!

And Peter B's experience is contrary to most posters here. I have NEVER seen an exchange booth that will exchange your currency for as little as 1% over current bank (XE) rates. One or two may exist somewhere in the world, but I'm not sure where you'll find them -- certainly not in airports, train stations, or any major tourist centers.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 04:21 PM
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Please ignore PeterB's advice. Almost all his posts are about Poland - and even IF his experience was common in Poland, it would have nothing to do w/ how things work in the UK. (even in Poland - using an ATM is normally much better than exchanging cash)

the only mode more expensive than using travelers cheques, is exchanging currency for currency. Just use you ATM card.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 05:06 PM
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If you have a BofA account, try to use a Barclays ATM exclusively. It will avoid the $5 per transaction that BofA usually charges.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 05:25 PM
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Listen to NeoPatrick and Janisj. PeterB knows not of what he speaks with regard to the UK.

FTR, my bank charges zilch for an overseas withdrawal. Your "knowledge" with regard to the 3 percent added is just hearsay....might be true for a bank here and there, but not a generalizable piece of knowledge.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 06:25 PM
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I've NEVER used a credit card to get cash in any country, including the USA (my own). Forget travelers' checks, money exchanges, etc.

Go to the nearest ATM and take out the maximum allowed by your bank (banks vary - I think the limit on mine was $300 per withdrawal). My bank also charged a flat $6 fee every time I used an ATM, whether I removed the equivalent of $10 or $100 so it was cheaper to take out larger amounts.

Ask your bank manager before you leave so you won't be stuck with any unpleasant surprises as withdrawal charges can add up. And, of course, just take out any amount you're comfortable walking around with. Maybe you'll hit the jackpot, as I did once or twice with my bank manager, and have all the withdrawal charges reversed when I returned home. Never hurts to ask !!
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 07:04 PM
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If anyone knows for sure of a bank in Central Florida currently charging no fee for ATM withdrawls, and that is a member of an ATM network common in Italy, such as Plus or Cirrus, I would very much like their name. Why? I recently heard about ATM rate increases and I'm headed to Italy next month, so I called my bank - several times. Sure enough they have gone from 0 to 2% this year. So then I called my business bank. Again it took several calls to get a straight answer. They have gone from 0 last year to 3%. So I called a few others -2-3%. Capital One has a money market account with a $500 daily limit, 6 withdrawl per month limit, 11 day hold on your first deposit and no ATM fees. And they are in Texas. Will that work in Europe? But better, is there a no fee ATM tied to a DDA at an actual bank with a branch in Central Florida?
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 03:16 AM
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After my 05 trip I learned that Chase was charging 3%. Thanks to info here I then used my Credit Union card instead. No extra charges in 06 and 07.
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 04:06 AM
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Generally use your credit cards to purchases goods & services and use your debit card to get cash from ATMs

Tell your bank & CC issuer you are going abroad, find out the charges they'll impose, see if there is anyway you can reduce the charges (eg partner banks, size of withdrawals), get their overseas contact numbers for when they forget you are going abroad and change your PIN to a 4 digit NUMBER as non-US ATMs don't have letters on them
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 04:53 AM
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One more time. Please differentiate between Credit Cards and Check/Debit Cards.
CCs charge for supplying credit. They do allow an interest fee period. They also charge a 'foreign transaction fee'. If the invoice is not paid on time, an annual interest fee of 36% is levied.
C/D Cs charge a currency conversion fee. 1% is common. No credit is involved. The ATM machine fee is a separate cost.
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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I am always surprised at how many Americans ask whether it would be cheaper to exchange for euro in the US than in Europe. Why would anyone think that could be the case? Do Europeans think it is cheaper to obtain currency in a country where it is not the local currency, than in the one where it is?

It just seems like such an unusual thing, to think euro would be cheaper in the US than where they are used everyday -- but maybe this goes along the lines of some things that actually are often cheaper when "bought" in the US than in Europe, like car rentals? That's the only one I can really think of, though. But the OP knows about exchanging money and has remembered something about getting money from ATMs abroad (but wrong), so I guess is thinking that exchanging for euro in the US would be cheaper than 3 pct? Where could that be true.

I am not singling out jeffholcomb about this at all, I don't mean to say he is particularly unaware, it is asked a lot on this website, so I was just wondering why one would ever think it could be cheaper to get euro or GBP in the US than in Europe.

It isn't that easy to get euro in the US, either, it's not like in Europe where you run across different currencies a lot or visually see exchange bureaus in the major cities for tourists a lot. So why do Americans think it would ever be cheaper to get euro in the US?
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 10:49 AM
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ok...personal experience, in Canada.

On Sep 17th, I went to my local bank and bought 85 euros cash. I paid 4.3% above the government exchange rate for that day.
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 10:58 AM
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Well, Christina, I can give you one example, although it's clearly outdated now. Before the euro, here in Naples, Fl. we had a LOT of German tourists and investors (still do). They would go to our banks in swarms and exchange their German marks for dollars. At one point I was getting ready to go to Italy and checked on the price of getting lira. The clerk remarked "are you sure you don't want German marks? We get so many we are exchanging them at actual current daily exchange rates, rather then sending them off to the home office."

Now, I realize that was a fluke, but it's not such a stretch for an American to think that a bank which takes in foreign currency might want to get rid of that foreign currency for a low price.

Meanwhile it's just as illogical that I can buy a Toblerone bar at my local market cheaper than I could in Switzerland. But I can.
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 12:39 PM
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So if none of you really know of an acutal bank with a branch somewhere in Central Florida that has no ATM charges in Europe, would you be so kind as to tell me one that only charges 1%?
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 12:52 PM
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Most of them. Some may also charge a couple dollar fee. How many times do you plan to use ATMs? Honestly, even using BofA which only charges the 1%, if you withdraw money four times during your stay it will only cost you $20. Is that really worth moving your money around and opening new bank accounts?

I just checked Wachovia, but see they have changed theirs to 2%.
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 01:06 PM
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Thanks NeoPatrick, so it's BofA plus their other fee. Sitll better than what I found. If I were asking on behalf of one or two people exchanging say $2,000 or $3,000 a year, then you would be absolutely correct, it would not be worth it. I guess I called the very wrong banks, since all I got was 2%-3% out of Suntrust, Wachovia, BB&T, National City, and one or two I've forgotten.
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