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How best to get Euro at lower exchange rates?

How best to get Euro at lower exchange rates?

Nov 5th, 2003, 06:16 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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How best to get Euro at lower exchange rates?

Leaving from Los Angeles next week for Madrid. Exchange rate is $1.30 for each Euro!!! Would appreciate suggestions of where to get better rates. If someone was in Madrid a short while ago, what were exchange rates at the ATM or at the airport?
travel333 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2003, 06:27 AM
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Usually any ATM will give you a better exchange rate than using change bureaus or kiosks or even banks from what I've experienced. I'm not sure I can accurately comment on different rates given by different bank network ATMs...that probably is handled as an inter-bank transaction and since banks get a better excahnge rate than the general public does this may be why you get a better exchange rate by using an ATM.
Nov 5th, 2003, 06:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,145
Hi travel,

JJ is right. You get the best exchange rate using your ATM card. It is the current bank rate + about 1 basis point.

European banks do not add a fee. Your home bank will probably charge you an out of network fee.

I buy about $100 worth of Euro at the departure airport (paying the few dollars extra) in order to have cash when I arrive.
ira is offline  
Nov 5th, 2003, 06:51 AM
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And I STRONGLY agree with Ira as to having a little local cash on hand WHEN you arrive. That way if you can't find an ATM immediately, or if it is broken (I've seen this, too) you have some ready money for transport, etc.
Nov 5th, 2003, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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In my 35 years of European travel I've never seen a European airport at any time of day or night not have a currency exchange open. Forget buying Euros here at an inflated rate and oft with a minimum transaction fee and first try the many ATMs and if by chance your card doesn't work, go to the airport bank. Carry some US dollars which, heaven forbid you can't get euros at the airport for some ungodly reason, these can always be exchanged in a pinch somewhere. Put angst to rest but make sure you ATM card has a four-digit PIN number and the strip on it is in pristine condition. I've had cards that work here not work in some European ATMs which had more sensitive readers i guess. Visa MCard always can be used in a pinch for cash advance at ATMS and in almost any hotel, restaurant and supermarket.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Nov 5th, 2003, 07:55 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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If anyone could recommend a specific bank/ATM to use in Paris or Brussels, I'd appreciate it. Someone had mentioned on a similar thread that Citibank visas/mastercards are the worst in terms of exchange rates...is this true? What if it is a debit card that has a mastercard logo? The exchange rate is bad enough!

Also, is it easy to find an ATM at Charles de Gaulle airport, and at the Brussels Midi train station? I would imagine so, but want to double check. I'd much rather use an atm than buy euros over here. Thanks!
mp413 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2003, 08:04 AM
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It doesn't matter a bit which bank you use in Paris, and you could drive yourself crazy trying to locate specific addresses. There are banks practically everywhere in Paris, and you can use the ATMs at Post Offices, too.

I also ALWAYS arrive in Europe with some euros in my pocket. I don't care to wait in line at an airport ATM machine after being on a plane all night, or find out that the one in the airport isn't working (as is the case every so often at CDG). Nor do I want to use an exchange bureau where I won't get such a good rate either. So I always land with at least 100 euros in my pocket. It's just one less thing I can do before I leave. When I arrive in Europe, I want to be ready for the trip, not dealing with money issues.
I don't know which aérogare you're arriving at in Paris, but if it's number 1, there's an ATM right at gate 34, where you will come out after getting your luggage. As you exit the large couble doors into the main airport corridor, turn right and the ATM is right there on your right. Be prepared to stand in line.
StCirq is online now  
Nov 5th, 2003, 08:12 AM
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Some of these questions are very common and have been discussed continuously on the board.

1. I don't have the same paranoia others have who tell me what if the ATM's are down etc. Well if the ATM's are down, and it's never happened to me, you go over to the currency exchange which every international airport has many of and exchange. You do a little better than you do by exchanging in the US. It's a hassle to exchange cash anywhere you have to but no more of a hassle on the right side of the pond than the left side. So there's no need to scurry around finding Euro here. Besides, it's just one other thing you can forget.

2. Use credit cards everywhere they are taken. You get a little more leverage in case something goes amiss and don't have to worry about constantly changing cash. Yes Citibank credit cards add surcharges on foreign charges while others don't but you can read all about that in the other thread.

It doesn't make one iota of a difference what ATM you use while in Europe. The bank there has nothing to do with the exchange. The €20 you withdraw from their machine is €20 to them; they couldn't care less what that is in any other currency. They submit it to the international clearing house for the network your card is one and that network handles the exchange.

As noted European banks do not add fees for withdrawals from ATM's. Your bank may or may not.
xyz123 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2003, 09:21 AM
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I have arrived at CDG airport around 11 pm to midnight and NO currency exchange booths were open. Perhaps they have changed hours, that was a few years ago, but at that time they were not open all night. Can't speak to other places in Europe; I have also arrived at an airport in Canada when no booths were open either as they took a 1-2 hour lunch break with no replacement staff (it was probably Quebec). If you are arriving in themorning, I don't think there would be a problem, however.

ATM at CDG not too hard to find -- the one in Terminal 2 is right next to the exchange bureau.

Citibank VISAs are not THE worst, they are the same as many many others--all of whom are probably in the "worst" pile, but not just one.
Christina is online now  
Nov 5th, 2003, 11:20 AM
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A very small correction to the statement made twice above -- that it doesn't make any difference what bank you use in Paris.
Actually with my Bank of America ATM card, I know that if I use an ATM at a BNP bank, my bank won't charge a thing as it's a "partnered" bank. But if I use another bank there will probably be $1.50 charge from my bank to have used an "out of network" ATM. I understand many US banks charge anywhere up to about $5.00 for a transaction, so if they also have partner banks, it starts making a little difference. This isn't enough to get excited about, but just wanted to clarify that point.
Patrick is offline  
Nov 5th, 2003, 01:06 PM
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Although it might seem like splitting hairs, that is a problem for your bank and a fee imposed by your bank. The currency exchange is not affected by which bank you use..whether your bank imposes different fees is between you and your bank.
xyz123 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2003, 01:47 PM
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I agree totally, xyz, both about the fact that it isn't really the exchange rate, and also about the fact that this is really splitting hairs.

I just didn't want anyone to get the idea that the bottom line doesn't make ANY difference what bank you go to. Most people consider their extra fees whether imposed elsewhere or by their own bank as part of the "bottom line" and therefore it WOULD make a slight difference to them at which bank they used an ATM.

Let's be honest there are even a few exchange booths that actually give great exchange rates, but those are the ones that add huge conversion fees. I wouldn't ignore those fees and tell someone that if they get a great rate (ignoring extra charges) it would be smart to exchange their money there!
Patrick is offline  
Nov 5th, 2003, 05:07 PM
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mp413, I use an ATM/debit Mastercard. Never had a problem finding an ATM anywhere in Europe, just look for one with the Mastercard logo.
jsmith is offline  
Nov 5th, 2003, 05:25 PM
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We've found the best rate using our debit, rather than credit, card; the bank doesn't charge any additional fee.
abram is offline  

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