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Exchanging Dollars for Euros - Best before leaving or after arriving?

Exchanging Dollars for Euros - Best before leaving or after arriving?

Old May 4th, 2010, 08:06 AM
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TravelingMan61,

No. They are not interested in changing your $100 or $500 or whatever. It will cost them more in time and effort than it's worth so you get a poor exchange rate.

99.9% of the time for 99.9% of people your best bet is using an ATM. Your bank changes thousands and thousands of dollars to euros a day so you benefit and get a better rate.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 08:11 AM
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PA,
Good summary. Banks are in business, and the more 'exotic' the transaction, the more they charge. Buying euros at home is 'exotic', getting them from an ATM in Europe is 'normal', except for the electronic processing.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 08:26 AM
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"when I travel in May (historically speaking) its value against the dollar goes up...so for me to exchange at my local bank at $1.39 and a $5 fee will be much less than me paying $1.58 in May...now who is daft?"

Wonder how ma23peas fells now??

This morning the € is at the lowest it has been in over a year . . . . . Where is that $1.58 she forecast?
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Old May 4th, 2010, 03:59 PM
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dlpiano
I agree, this is my first visit to this forum and doubt I'll be back. People are rude on this site. Trip Advisor removes posts that are rude or offensive.

As far as the whole exchange thing, I visited my bank yesterday and a financial advisor and I decided to exchange before I went. It depends on a person's personal situation. We've experienced identity theft and along with a couple other circumstances we will not take our debit card. My bank charges only a 15 dollar fee, so I can get a few hundred Euros before I go and have less hassle. An intelligent person gathers all the facts and makes the best decision for their circumstances. What will work for one, does not constitute a good fit for another.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 04:47 PM
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SCarolina: "I agree, this is my first visit to this forum and doubt I'll be back. People are rude on this site. Trip Advisor removes posts that are rude or offensive."

You registered to post this one and only entry to tell us you won't be back?

People are not rude here -- they try to help people. If you don't like the advice - fine. But trying to save folks money and preventing security problems is not rude. Fodors editors DO remove nasty threads/posts -- none on this thread even come close to that level . . . .
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Old May 4th, 2010, 05:04 PM
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Don't mess with the ego of ma23peas as he/she will hunt you down. He/she is fantastic, just ask!
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Old May 4th, 2010, 05:27 PM
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Back on topic, get your money at an ATM at the airport, usually a good exchange rate. Get it there, there could be a lag between available ATMs.

Short story: we arrived in Ireland at 5:30 am with a small ziplock baggie of euros, left over from previous trips. We go up to the cafeteria for a scone and tea, energy to get going. We are done, I say: aren't you going to clear your tray? He says: She will do it. (an employee clearing some tables.) We hit the road toward Galway, through the Burren. I get thirsty. Can we get a bottle of water? Oops, we left our baggie on the tray. Good bye 25 euros, where is an ATM? We have already passed Lahinch. (See ATM at the tourist office.) Not a one to be found in Ballyvaughan. Back down to Lisdoonvarna, back down to Kilfenora, eureka! Should have carried on toward Galway, but we love driving around in circles in Ireland.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 04:51 AM
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SCarolina--what exchange rate did you get at your bank? If it was good, please let me know the name of the bank.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 05:57 AM
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SCarolina: "My bank charges only a 15 dollar fee, so I can get a few hundred Euros before I go and have less hassle. An intelligent person gathers all the facts and makes the best decision for their circumstances."

I hope that "all the facts" included what the exchange rate was vs. current market rates and not just the $15 fee.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 06:08 AM
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When I asked at my bank about exchange rate to get euros, I was assured by the young teller "it's the market rate..."

I don't think he had a clue about buy rates vs sell rates, cash vs. electronic/interbank rates.

I'm sure many uninformed bank customers are similar assured by even less informed bank employees.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 07:18 AM
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Maybe it is because I am in a major area for tourists, but for the last 20 years I have been changing about $200 USD for Euros or pounds at an excellent local office in Miami. I have found that it helps to have enough for arrival taxis, or incase I arrive very late..My rate has always been better than the foreign airport rate. I also check on the conversion rate my credit card charges for my charges in a foreign country. Some cards charge 3% and some as low as 1%. That is another cost that adds up if you use your credit card for big items.
It all depends on how much research you want to do. Find out the $ to euro rate in the newspaper or internet. Call the credit card company about their conversion rate.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 07:30 AM
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>>>I have found that it helps to have enough for arrival taxis, or incase I arrive very late>My rate has always been better than the foreign airport rate.>>As far as the whole exchange thing, I visited my bank yesterday and a financial advisor and I decided to exchange before I went.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 08:24 AM
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nexttrip--Visa and MC give you the best possible rate on both credit card purchases and ATM withdrawals--unless you find a crazy source of foreign currency that likes to lose money on exchanges. Even with the 1% Visa/MC network fee, the ATM rate will beat any other rate you can find. Again, this is true unless your source likes losing money on its transactions--and I have not found any source like that.

So why don't you give us the name of your source?
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Old May 6th, 2010, 10:43 AM
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Euro is down $1.261 now...of course, the dow is down >500 points.

So on the one hand, my trip to Europe will be cheaper, but I just lost big $$$$ in the market...
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Old May 6th, 2010, 12:23 PM
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"So on the one hand, my trip to Europe will be cheaper, but I just lost big $$$$ in the market..."

At least you're getting to Europe while the euro is lower. I just lot big $$$$$ too but I'm stuck here envying people who will be in Europe. Poor me!

Forget the loss, it will recover eventually (she said hopefully). Just go and have a great time.

Bon voyage!
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Old May 6th, 2010, 01:53 PM
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If you are leaving Tuesday it will be hard to purchase Euros ahead of time here in the US. When I went to Europe in 2008, the bank here had to send out of town for them and it took several days. I took about $400 US in Euros with me, and was so glad I did. My granddaughter woke up the morning of our leaving for Europe with a sore throat. We were arriving in Rome on a national holiday. Had to take several cab trips, to pharmacy because closest was closed for the holiday, and visit to hospital. I am so glad I had the euros, and not have to worry about trying to find an ATM. In addition to all this, our luggage did not arrive with us! What a fun day, but it worked out and we had a great time. I feel that it was well worth spending the money for the exchange here.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 04:32 PM
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If you belong to AAA, they exchange at the current rate for NO fee. Just give them a few days to get the money. I realize that it is too late for the initial question, but may help out others.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 07:36 PM
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Cricket808285: "If you belong to AAA, they exchange at the current rate for NO fee"

I belong to AAA, and I would never get currency there. Sure there is no "fee" - but they do jack up the rate so it ends up costing you a fair bit . . .
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Old May 7th, 2010, 05:08 AM
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"An intelligent person gathers all the facts and makes the best decision for their circumstances. What will work for one, does not constitute a good fit for another."

That's true, and the facts are that the rate is better at an ATM than at a bank, AAA or airport exchange. ATMs are plentiful at airports but if someone is worried or afraid they can't find one (?) and willing to pay an exchange fee to buy euros in the U.S. at a higher rate, then do it. Maybe it's best for your peace of mind, but is not the best rate.

The OP asked what is the "best" way and that is using an ATM.
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Old May 7th, 2010, 05:16 AM
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"If you are leaving Tuesday it will be hard to purchase Euros ahead of time here in the US."

That was a Tuesday in September 2009.
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