Exchanging money in Europe-help

Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 11:22 AM
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Exchanging money in Europe-help

What is the best thing for my college-age sons to do about getting euros for a trip to Ireland, Germany and Belgium? Should they get them here before leaving the States? Should they use a credit or debit card? Or should they exchange money at an ATM? What is the best thing to do for the best exchange rate? They are leaving next week and have 21 euros to take with them so far. Thanks for your help.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 11:24 AM
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Everything I've read in researching my trip says ATM, ATM, ATM. The exchange rate is fair, and he can get money out every few days so he doesn't have to exchange it all at once.

Make sure you contact the bank and let them know the dates and countries he'll be visiting, so his card doesn't get frozen.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 11:25 AM
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The debit card at the ATM is a good choice. For endless discussions of that put 'ATM' in the search box above and read away.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 12:19 PM
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Generally paying with a credit card and using an ATM card to withdraw money from the ATM machines is the best combination. Certainly better than exchanging in the USA. Check what your bank charges for foreign ATM transactions (European banks charge nothing for the use of their ATMs). Also check with your credit card company to see what (if anything) they add for paying for stuff with a credit card overseas--credit card issuers add from 0% to 3% to the exchange rate. Mine adds 1%--still better than what you can get exchanging for euros in the USA.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 12:53 PM
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Hi nw,

Charge everything chargeable, use ATMs for cash.

US dollars or Traveler's checks are useful only as emergency backup.

21E is all they will need to get started.

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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 12:56 PM
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As a Canadian, living in Germany, I would recommend debit card and credit cards. The only drawback is that alot of places take only certain credit cards, VISA is quite recognized, the others are hit and miss. Some places do not take credit cards at all. As far as ATM's go, they are everywhere and will give you the best exchange rate.....DO NOT bring travellers cheques as only certain banks will cash them and will charge a significant amount to cash them (in Germany anyway)if they will at all.
I hope this helps.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 12:59 PM
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I noticed after re-reading your post that they will be heading to Germany and Belgium, I live on the border of Germany, Netherlands and Belgium and the note I posted above refers to all three countries, the Benelux area banking is pretty similar despite being different countries.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 01:00 PM
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Don't "exchange money" at all. Withdraw direct in Euro from an ATM account - as your primary method. Back it up with a credit card, maybe travelers checks or USD/cash only for emergencies.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 06:04 PM
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There is no money changing involved. they should pay for as much as possible with credit cards (Visa and MC are very widely take, AMEX slightly less so, Discover not at all).

For walking around money they just pull cash (euros) from the local ATMs. Just make sure that the cards they have are members of some of the major networks (versus some obscure credit union with no links in europe) and that it is linked to a CHECKING account. Savings accounts won;t work.

If they would feel more comfortable having a few euros they can change $100 at the bureau de change in the departure airport. The rate will be awful but for so little money it dosn;t really matter.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2007, 05:33 AM
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I do NOT recommend credit cards, as last year most banks began charging an extra fee for transacting business in foreign currency.

To my knowledge ATM cards have emerged as the best value.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2007, 05:39 AM
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If you set up an account with Bank of America in the States, all withdrawals from Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and Barclays Banks are free (no charge for using the ATM). This will definitely be of help in Germany, not at all in Ireland but they should stock up on Euros before leaving the continent. I'm not sure about Belgium.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2007, 06:04 AM
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>I do NOT recommend credit cards, as last year most banks began charging an extra fee for transacting business in foreign currency. <

This fee 1-3% has always been there. They are now listing it as a separate item as a result of lawsuits.

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Old Jul 3rd, 2007, 06:33 AM
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I fly to Europe everyweek and everyone that I work with ONLY uses the ATM for getting their Euros. Easy,quick and cheaper than all the others. Credit cards are ONLY to be used if you run out of cash,need higher amounts,etc. They are way too expensive to use for regular priced things in Europe. There are ATM's on every corner in Europe.
Both of my kids studied abroad for several semesters in the past years and never used their credit cards unless there would be some type of emergency. I highly recommend two different ATM cards and two different credit cards-xeroxed and left with you and put in two different areas of your person so if one is compromised you are still good to go.They will have a ball!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2007, 10:48 AM
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By the way, many banks are now charging 1-3% for ATM foreign currency withdrawals (not to mention a set, per transaction fee), just like many credit cards do for charge purchases.

There's no reason not to use a credit card if you have one that does not charge anything for foreign charges, or even 1% given the convenience and safety that using a charge card provides.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2007, 11:44 AM
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Lots of advice. Poland ATMs charge $2 per transaction using a debit card to withdraw zlotych. USA bank charges 1% for its service. A credit card is just that. Pay before due date and charge is minimal. Suggestion: Install a daily withdrawal limit on all cards for both cash and charge uses. Don't be afraid to carry USA dollars and use them when it is possible.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2007, 11:51 AM
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It is not possible to use US dollars in the countries they wil be in. Changing them at banks will cost at least 7-8% above the inerbank rate (ATMs and credit cards charge only 1 to 3% over).

Anyone willing to deal in dollars will charge you way higher rates than the bank will (since they will then have the time, trouble and loss to take them to the bank) so you could end up paying 15 to 20% above the interbank rate.

Trying to spend dollars in these countries is simply ridiculous - like trying to buy something with euros in New York - simply can;t be done.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2007, 12:04 PM
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GSteed-I agree that no one wants to accept US dollars ANYWHERE overseas as they are a pain for them to take to the bank and change into their currency. Traveler's checks are also a pain to try and cash as most banks won't even let you in the door unless you have an account there.
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Old Jul 9th, 2007, 05:47 AM
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Actually, if you do for some reason have to exchange dollars for foreign currency, it never hurts to ask at your hotel. Some hotels will rip you off and make a huge profit on exchanges; but we have, on occasion, found hotels that look up the current rate in the newspaper or online and give it to you to the penny--as a convenience for their guests (and a relatively inexpensive bit of PR). Never hurts to ask.
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Old Jul 19th, 2007, 12:39 PM
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Try this on for size. Would plastic still be the best way to go given the dropping US:Euro exchange rate?

When I went to Europe last year, the rate was 1:0.824 US to Euro. Now its a mere 1:0.724 and dropping. Rates have been steadily dropping since March 07 and show no signs of stopping. This means for every 100US we exchange, we lose 10Euro - and that's just over the course of ONE year.

My travel buddy is exchanging her money now for fear it may drop even further before our trip in September 07.

Upon further research, the difference between exhanging now and in two months is only a 40Euro - max. Luckily (or unluckily) the US:Euro exchange rate has been falling at a steady 0.02 every two months. Multiply by our $2000US and subtract the difference between the current rate and anticipated rate and you get 40Euro. This simple calculation can be done on a currency converter where you dictate the rates (ie, on many cell phones).
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Old Jul 19th, 2007, 12:55 PM
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"My travel buddy is exchanging her money now for fear it may drop even further before our trip in September 07"

Extremely silly IMHO. Sure the € could rise some more - or it could correct back down a bit - or it could stay exactly the same. But your friend will have huge security/safety problems carrying large amounts of cash.
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