First time overseas-How do I exchange $?

Old Feb 20th, 2005, 03:54 PM
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First time overseas-How do I exchange $?

I will be leaving for London on February 28, 2005. It's my first trip overseas, and I was wondering where and how I should exchange US Dollars into Pounds? Should I exchange money somehow before I leave the US? Or, should I exchange it somewhere in London? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
lillykinloo is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2005, 04:01 PM
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Just use your ATM card to get cash once you get there. It makes it easy!
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 04:05 PM
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There are ATMs at the airport, and that will usually be your first opportunity to get pounds in cash. Like the USA, ATMs are everywhere in Europe and they work just like they do here. Your bank will give you a good exchange rate, but there could be a fee for using an ATM outside your bank's network. Minimize these fees by withdrawing large amounts (200-400) at a time.

I like to use credit cards as often as possible because I get the same good exchange rate without the fees. Like most cards, my credit card has a no-interest grace period. As long as I pay the bill in full in the next billing cycle, there is no interest on the purchase.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 04:07 PM
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There are scores of threads from the past year on these forums.
ATMs and low/no fee CC's are the most cost effective.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 04:48 PM
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Thank you rapunzll, Edward2005, and mikemo! It sounds like ATMs and credit cards are the way to go. If I use an ATM, I know that I will most likely be charged an ATM fee. However, do you know if I should expect to be charged any kind of courtesy fee in addition to the ATM fee? Should I check with my bank on this? Thanks for all your help!
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 04:59 PM
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Find from your bank if it has an affilitate in Europe. For example, last year I learned that Barclay's is an affilitate of Bank of America.

So is Deutsche Bank.

I used Barclay's in the UK and it was the same (I think because I paid no fee.) as an on-net transaction in the US.

Different banks have different working agreements. Therefore, call and ask.
Now, don't be surprised if the person you are talking too has no idea! I have found that to be the case. A foreign what?
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 05:17 PM
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As long as you use bank-affiliated ATM machines (instead of commercial stand alone ones) you will not be charged a fee by the UK bank. Your own bank will proabbly charge the same it charges when you use a different bank's machine.

As already mentioned, BofA is affiliated w/ Barclays. But even if you don't have BofA the ATM fees will be very small.

Also - be sure your atm card access your CHECKING account - most European machines don't let you withdraw from savings accounts.

BTW, bank-affiliated ATMs does not mean they have to be at a bank branch - just look for the Bank's name on the machine (Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest, etc)
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 05:27 PM
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What does affiliation have to do with anything? I've never paid an ATM fee in Europe using my ATM card. I've paid a 1% conversion fee, but nothing more. BTW, neither my CC bank or Debit Card bank charge anything other than the 1% conversion fee. I hear some others charge more.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 06:01 PM
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Budman - True - the European bank will not charge a fee - but most US banks do charge if you use an "out of system" machine. For instance my bank charges me $1.50 to use another bank's ATMs whether in Europe or in LA, but it doesn't charge a conversion fee.

The reason to know about affiliations is for instance BofA will not charge it's normal out of system fee if you use a Barclays machine.

Most banks charge between $1 and $3 to use other ATM - so if none of your banks levy charges, that is unusual.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 06:14 PM
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As Budman and I know, USAA Federal Savings Bank charges nothing when all rebates are considered.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 06:17 PM
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Mike, what are you meaning by rebates? I'm a USAA member, but don't have a bank acct with them, although I do have a cc.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 06:21 PM
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janis, thanks, got it. My bank doesn't charge if I use an out-of-network bank to make an ATM withdrawal. The out-of-network bank charges me.

Bank fees can add up. I suggest people fine banks that charge minimal fees.

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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 08:16 PM
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rapunzll,

USAA Bank rebates fees charged by other banks when you use their ATM card. So, if I use my USAA ATM card and the other bank charges me $3.00 for the transaction, USAA rebates that for a net $0 charge. This is only for the USAA Bank accounts and has nothing to do with the credit card.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 08:25 PM
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Thanks Carroll! I'd love to bank with them as well, but my employer doesn't offer automatic deposit.
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Old Feb 21st, 2005, 06:20 PM
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Actually, it's better: my no annual fee USAA gold Visa rebated 1% for all charges from June '04 until just recently, and my USAA Plat MC just started a 1.5% rebate - these are obviously limited offers, but they negate the 1% currency conversion fee charged by V and MC.
Additionally, I was notified on Sat that my Citi AA Gold World MC would charge 3% for foreign currency transactions (in addition to the 1% MC fee). Best to leave home without it.
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Old Feb 27th, 2005, 06:16 AM
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Edward:

Forget about whether or not you're charged interest on your credit card purchase----
I have NEVER heard of an American bank not charging a conversion fee on top of the exchange rate for a purchase when a person uses that bank's credit card in Europe. Credit card purchases, in my experience, always include extra transaction and/or conversion fees, certainly more than would be charged for a simple bank ATM bank debit card withdrawl if you were getting cash (presumably to use for that purchase). In other words, if I drew cash by ATM debit card for my purchase, there's usually an excellent exchange rate (I've found it to be the same as what is posted on the internet that day)plus a 1% or less fee. To use a credit card for that same purchase, the exchange rate is not as favorable and there is an added fee of 1-3% on the conversion transaction. What is your bank and what kind of agreement do you have? This information should be shared.
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Old Feb 27th, 2005, 06:40 AM
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zola,
You are incorrect. See all the posts re: USAA Federal Savings Bank.
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Old Feb 27th, 2005, 06:55 AM
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mikemo:

My post was primarily about fees involving credit card purchases. Your post to which you refer regarding USAA is about ATM cards- . Are you also saying USAA doesn't charge more (in fees and/or conversion) for Credit Card purchases in Europe- the emphasis of my previous post?
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Old Feb 27th, 2005, 07:22 AM
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Zola,
mikemo is correct. Visa and MC charge 1% above the day's interbank exchange rate whether you use a CC or ATM (ATM networks are through the MC/Visa systems - known as Cirrus and Plus). So it is the same starting exchange rate no matter which method you use. However, SOME, not all, CC add extra fees on top of the Visa/MC 1% exchange service fee. As several posters mentioned, USAA, MBNA, Capital One are examples of banks that add nothing more. So it will be the same exchange rate using these banks' CC vs using the ATM for cash. With the added safety of not having to carry around a lot of cash.
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Old Feb 27th, 2005, 07:27 AM
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Forgot to add, some differences may be seen in the exchange rate posted on the same day due to dynamic nature of the currency market. What a $ may be worth at 8AM may not be the same at 3PM. And it also depends on when the charge is posted (a CC charge may take several days to post vs same day for ATM except weekends or holidays).
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