Money conversion question

Old Sep 17th, 2003, 07:26 PM
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Money conversion question

Is it better to get money converted at one of the counters at the airport (like JFK) or do it at the ATM in Heathrow? Anybody know?
Luv2Travel is offline  
Old Sep 17th, 2003, 07:30 PM
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not a bad idea to take $50 converted with you, but the rate will be far better when you arrive at your destination...i prefer to wait until i am away from the airport to do it--rates may vary or less service charge, but it depends on your schedule, etc as to when it is best for you...i rarely take any foreign money with me anymore, unless i have some in the drawer
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Old Sep 17th, 2003, 07:34 PM
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I purchase most of my items in Europe by credit card because the credit card companies give you the best available exchange rates for the date of purchase. It is the best, most economical way to convert money in Europe, plus if you have problems with a purchase and/or a delivery, you have a means of dispute with the vendor when you return home.

However, I do get a small amount of money converted at the currency exchange windows to have for a cup of coffee, a magazine, a tip for my driver. I've done these money exchanges in Vancouver and in London when I arrive - I don't think that there is much difference in the service charges in the end. I don't worry about it because I change such a small amount of money - I usually go for convenience over a few cents. I think it all evens out in the end....

Best Regards,
Julia Elzie
Cruising Co Etc
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Old Sep 17th, 2003, 07:53 PM
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We found that by using our debit card rather than our credit card, we got the same good echange rate, but avoided the additional (1t least 1%) Visa surcharges.
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 05:40 AM
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You will always pay the highest price using Airport exchanges. We always take some pounds with us and then use ATMs to get additional pounds. Everyone has their own way of doing this, some carry no pounds with them and get what they need at Heathrow. We like have $200 to $300 in pounds with us. That way we are ready to get a taxi and get to the hotel and look for a ATM later.
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 05:52 AM
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I always exchange a little money at my bank ahead of time. Much cheaper than the airport.

Be careful with credit cards, most of them do charge a surcharge. ugh. Find out ahead of time if yours does.
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 06:26 AM
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Even if your credit card charges the usual 1% conversion fee plus an additional 2%, I'd be surprised if it even approached the cost of exchanging money at an airport counter. And don't be fooled by signs that say "NO FEE". Maybe there's no fee, but for small amounts they may be charging you as much as 15% over the usual exchange rate you'd get with your credit card.

That said, if you want $20 worth of foreign cash, then by all means do a booth exchange. So it cost you $25? What's the big deal if it makes you feel more secure?
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 06:31 AM
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There still remains a great deal of information out there...

Even if you are dumb enough to use one of the credit cards imposing the 2% surcharge, you will do far far better using a credit card than exchanging cash or TC's anywhere. And the thing is that it isn't even close.

When I was in London last month, the interbank rate was $1.59 to £1. At the exchange booths, the best you could do was at Marks & Spencer which was about $1.66...most of the banks were about $1.70 and to add insult to injury the banks add other fees for exchanging cash or TC's.

The advise remains the same:

1. Use credit cards (hopefully you're smart enough to read the threads or call your cc issuer to see which ones impose the 2% surcharge...all banks pass along a 1% surcharge no matter what they say) everywhere they are taken and that means everywhere even for the smallest purchases.

2. Use the ATM's (again hopefully you have read the posts concerning fees..remember the banks in Europe due to the regulations of cirrus and plus do not impose any fees for use of their ATM's, you pay whateer your bank feels it can charge you) for those few times you will need cash (pubs, sandwich shoppes). Do remember that in both Paris and London, the local transportation systems take credit cards so if you're arriving at Heathrow, even if you have no time to get sterling at the ATM, you can use your credit card to buy your underground tickets. And the station at Heathrow have ATM's anyway so I don't see why it would be necessary to get cash before arrival but if that will make you feel better, then throw awy the extra money it costs and do it.

This is from a veteran traveller who makes 3 or 4 trips to Europe annually. Never once has this strategy failed...
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