Money Exchange - Age Old Question

Sep 18th, 2009, 04:20 AM
  #1  
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Money Exchange - Age Old Question

Here goes it...traveling to Italy Thurs...

I have 150€ already that I exchanged in US to have cash on hand. I have money in bank to withdrawal at ATM once I get there or use as a debit, so I am good there.

Here's the question....my mom wants me to exchange $1500 into Euro's before we go so she can give me, my sister and her our own spending money. A nice little treat from her. I know exchanging here is costly....and withdrawing once we get there is on a $250 limit per day...sooooo, should I take the $1500 us dollars and exchange for euro's at Italy airport for best rate or go ahead and exchange here before we leave?

Geez.

D.
Dawn3333 is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 04:24 AM
  #2  
 
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I have a friend who gets her Euros from AAA, it costs more, but it suits her fine. If that's what your mom wants, let her do it.
Nlingenfel is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 04:25 AM
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You should first contact your bank and tell them you will be in Europe and when, otherwise they may lock your account.

Next, you can have them raise your daily limit.

Don't even consider taking dollars for exchange at any airport currency exchange, you will get absolutely doinked on the exchange rate. Plus, you probably should not even consider carrying around that much cash.

You can easily get Euros at any ATM, bank ATMS are the best, for the best rate. Check your own bank for any related charges. If you have an acct at a credit union, many of these do not have charges. Your bank may also have European branches.

Check it out before you leave, but do NOT take so much cash.

dave
daveesl is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 04:42 AM
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You should get the money from your mom and put it in you ATrM accounts. It would be foolish to exchange it before you leave. You aren't limited to $250 per day. Your limit is whatever your daily ATM withdrawal limit is and I doubt it's as low as $250 (most are a minimum of $400 and many are higher). Some ATM machines in Europe might have a withdrawal limit of 250€ (currently $365) per transaction (not per day), but if your daily limit is higher and you can do another transaction for the rest of the money. It's not clear whether she is giving you each $1500 or just $500.
kybourbon is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 04:51 AM
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A friend recently exchanged dollars at her local bank for Euro before her trip.
I asked her what the exchange rate was and it cost her an EXTRA $100 for the $1000 she exchanged because of the poor exchane rate they gave her. You might do better but why shrink your spending by an extra $100 if you do not need to. It isn't as if you need the money immediately upon arriving, do you?
As suggested, I wouldn't carry that much cash. That would be my first concern.
Secondly. I would do as kybourbon suggested. Deposit it in your account here and withdraw at an ATM there. You won't know exactly what exchange rate you received until you return home and check your statement.
I would figure each Euro you withdraw will cost you $1.50. And that should come pretty close to what you will get.
Sher is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 05:11 AM
  #6  
 
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1. Call bank and then the number on the back of the Debit card. Tell them you are going to Europe and the dates. Call them again just before you leave to make sure they have your information.

2. Raise your limit to 1000.00 per day on ATM withdrawals.

3. Deposit cash in Checking account, not saving. When in Europe you cannot access your saving account from an ATM.

As daveesl says- Don't even consider taking dollars for exchange at any airport currency exchange, you will get absolutely doinked on the exchange rate.

I disagree with him a bit on amounts to carry on hand. I take 2500E with me when leaving US. I get it from my Credit Union and they charge me .50 cents for the letter to sent the request in. They charge me the daily rate of exchange, so it is cheaper than ATM, when considering ATM fees. I stash cash under my clothes in a pouch made for this and never have had any problems in the 30+ years of traveling. I keep 20-50E in my front shirt pocket for small purchases -cafe' at a restaurant, etc. I do not like my cc or atm number wandering all over Europe, being used all the time for small purchases of food, clothing, presents, etc. I had a cc card cloned in 2000 and it took a year to finally get it settled. If it had been my ATM card. . . I do not even want to go there. You can dispute cc charges and not pay them. Money taken from ATM and your bank account is GONE!! Very hard to get back and you have no money to live on, get home on, while arguing, etc. Protect your ATM card more than cash. All of your money is available to thieves. Also, I NEVER use ATM card in any other place other than a Bank ATM machine or inside a bank, from a teller. I pre-book most hotels and they are paid for before I leave. At my age, sleeping on the streets does not sound to attractive. (Tried it last year in Paris, and not really worth it.) When they want a cc card for security when checking in at hotels, I have a cc I use for this. Not ATM. Be sure to take at least 2 or maybe 3 cc. If possible, have one Visa and one Mastercard and the third can be another one of these or another type. Also, obviously take ATM card. If you can, and have two different bank accounts, take two ATM cards. That way, if one is compromised, you have a back-up. I have two bank accounts, one in a Credit Union and one at a Walk all over you. (Wachovia) With two cards, if one is stolen or machine eats it, I have a back-up. I split my bank cash between them, when traveling, so if I have trouble, all is not lost. I really do not use Debit cards that much. Back to caring cash and paying for everything that way. Today, most young people think nothing of Debit carding everything, MacDonalds, coffee at Starbucks, etc. They carry no cash. My children do this. I carry cash. Old school, I guess. If power goes out, I can still buy things. See nice jewelry on street from street salesman, cash works, buying bus ticket from driver, etc.
jkbritt is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 05:30 AM
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>>> Protect your ATM card more than cash. All of your money is available to thieves. Also, I NEVER use ATM card in any other place other than a Bank ATM machine or inside a bank, from a teller.<<<

That's not accurate. All of your money is not available to thieves and you will pretty much have the same protection as a credit card. If a thief stole your card they would still need your PIN and they wouldn't be able to withdraw anymore than the daily limit. Surely you would report your card missing. Under Federal law, if you report it missing before the thief uses it, you are not responsible for the amount withdrawn so you wouldn't be out any money. If you report it within two days even if it was used, you are only responsible for $50. If you don't report it for 60 days (can't imagine why anyone would wait that long) then you could lose your money.
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/cons...dit/cre04.shtm
kybourbon is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 05:32 AM
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J62
 
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"They charge me the daily rate of exchange"

Another one conned by that line from an unwitting teller. Yes, they gave you the daily rate of exchange to SELL you euros in the US. Pray, tell us the actual excahge rate & date for comparison. I'll bet you $1 it is very different than the daily interbank exchange rate.
J62 is online now  
Sep 18th, 2009, 05:51 AM
  #9  
 
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I would also advise that you take the $1500 and deposit it into a checking account that can be accessed via ATM. It is the most convenient and most economical.

Pay attention to the advice given above about contacting your bank and letting them know where and when you will be traveling so there is no hold on your accounts.

I also keep the international customer service numbers for my bank cards in a separate area from my cards. I learned this after being pickpocketed in Paris by some real pros. It would have saved me hours and lots of phone calls home trying to get cards canceled and access to cash.
kfusto is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 06:02 AM
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The last of May, 09, I bought Euro's at 1.342. I called the Credit Union just now and the exchange rate I would pay for Euro's is 1.472 plus the .50 cent charge. Using ATM card, on a 25 day trip buying all the other little things, like drinks in a bar, coffee at a Cafe', etc.maybe 45 uses during the trip. How much would the fees be?

While you are disputing the charge and the bank is checking you have NO MONEY LEFT or very little money left in your checking account. It could take a week or more and you have NO CASH, if you are relying on the ATM Debit card to live on. Pins can be stolen or acquired. Someone looking over your shoulder, watching you enter pin while paying for a restaurant meal, etc. There are several computer programs that can find your pin number fairly fast. After all, it is only a 4 digit number and each number only has 10 choices, so it does not take to long to get a pin...Plus, you call your bank and they freeze the card. How are you going to get cash from ATM when you have no card and the account is frozen while they investigate? The bank will have to send you another card in the mail. It might take 1 to 4 days to get another card with another number to access the account. It might take 2-3 months to get it all straight. During that time, your cash is gone. They will replace it, waayyy down the road, IF they think you are correct. You are not libel for the withdrawal after notifying the bank, but it will take time to get your account straight. During this time, you do not have access to the disputed withdrawal amounts. Bottom line, protect ATM card and use more cash.
jkbritt is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 06:44 AM
  #11  
J62
 
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If you are getting the 1.47 rate to BUY euro in the US today then you've got a great arrangement with your CU. I'm happy to send you the $1 bet (if you tell us the name of the CU so we can do the same ).

As an experienced traveler you know to look for the actual rate, not just what a teller states is the "daily rate."

My bank and CU both quote a no-fee service, but the rate is the usual ~7% over the interbank rate (1.47 today). Since most Americans aren't conversant in currency exchange it's easy to get duped, hence my warning to the general forum reader.

I disagree about the security risk of using an ATM card, but we can agree to disagree.

You've opened up a whole new can of worms about using ATM/debit card as point of sale. You are correct that it's become very common to swipe plastic (CC or debit) for small purchases - I think nothing of buying a single coffee using plastic. My ATM doesn't charge for point-of-sale purchases in the US or abroad (excepting the 1% forex fee). I have no problem with a flat % cost - 1% is in the noise. A per-transaction fee could really add up if one is used to swiping all the time. Caveat emptor.
J62 is online now  
Sep 18th, 2009, 07:06 AM
  #12  
 
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J62 - I'm curious to as which credit union is giving that rate for advance cash although my credit union does give the interbank rate for ATM withdrawals when I use it in Europe

jkbritt - Your info about ATM cards just isn't accurate. I provided the government link explaining the actual obligations/laws. You are just assuming what might happen without facts. Even is someone got your pin, they are still limited to the daily withdrawal limits. Most people carry two ATM cards for two different accounts so wouldn't be without cash even if one were compromised. The only way you would have no money left is if you only had the exact daily withdrawal limit in your account and nothing else when your card was compromised.
kybourbon is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 07:09 AM
  #13  
 
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There are many posters who have never had problem getting cash from ATMs, so considerations other than rate and fees seem irrelevant. I am not one of them.

About the best protection to deal with "other factors" is to have multiple debit cards from different banks. My latest snafu was informing the bank about using a card overseas. Instead of enabling the card for foreign transcations, the bank managed to code my card as "lost." I took me a long telephone call going up the supervior ladder to argue that they made a mistake and that I should not be forced for wait for a new card.

If the cards are stored at different locations, it also protects you from losing all sources of fund at the same time.
greg is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 08:51 AM
  #14  
 
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The last of May, 09, I bought Euro's at 1.342. I called the Credit Union just now and the exchange rate I would pay for Euro's is 1.472 plus the .50 cent charge. Using ATM card, on a 25 day trip buying all the other little things, like drinks in a bar, coffee at a Cafe', etc.maybe 45 uses during the trip. How much would the fees be?

While you are disputing the charge and the bank is checking you have NO MONEY LEFT or very little money left in your checking account. It could take a week or more and you have NO CASH, if you are relying on the ATM Debit card to live on. Pins can be stolen or acquired. Someone looking over your shoulder, watching you enter pin while paying for a restaurant meal, etc. There are several computer programs that can find your pin number fairly fast. After all, it is only a 4 digit number and each number only has 10 choices, so it does not take to long to get a pin...Plus, you call your bank and they freeze the card. How are you going to get cash from ATM when you have no card and the account is frozen while they investigate? The bank will have to send you another card in the mail. It might take 1 to 4 days to get another card with another number to access the account. It might take 2-3 months to get it all straight. During that time, your cash is gone. They will replace it, waayyy down the road, IF they think you are correct. You are not libel for the withdrawal after notifying the bank, but it will take time to get your account straight. During this time, you do not have access to the disputed withdrawal amounts. Bottom line, protect ATM card and use more cash.
jkbritt is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 09:18 AM
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First, carrying that much cash is not a good idea.

Second, you will lost about 8% of the money by changing in the US. Do you want to throw $ 120 out the window?
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 02:09 PM
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kybourbon,
I think jkbritt has obscured his point by using ATM card and debit card as if they were the same. With a debit card there are two limits, a cash withdrawal and a purchase limit. While you may have a $500 cash withdrawal limit your purchase limit may be $3000. If your number is compromised the thieves can empty your account quickly. Depending on your debit card agreement the bank may have up to ten business days to investigate the loss after you notify them. During this time you don't have access to your money. Because of this an ATM card is safer.

Henry
Henry is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 02:21 PM
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Henry - It's possible jkbritt is confused about the difference between ATM cards and debit cards (or perhaps doesn't know there is a difference), but keeps saying ATM card when he/she means debit card. I think it's important to point out inaccurate information on these threads since they will be searched by others in the future. I have an ATM only card which I use when traveling. My daughter lived in Spain for six months and used nothing but her ATM card for money.
kybourbon is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 05:11 AM
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This has been my experience. A few years ago I had to exchange at the airport and it cost me almost 30% in fees and poor exchange rates. I can't recommend that option.

If you are going to Rome, there is a money exchange near Termini station that gives the bank rate. I have used this every year, one or two times a year, for at least the last five years.

As you exit from the trains into the central hall at Termini, turn right. Exit onto Via Marsala, cross the street and turn left. Walk one block to Via Vicenza. There is a money exchange on the corner that charges no fees and gives the bank exchange rate (I have verified this).

I always take a supply of hundred dollar bills with me and exchange them there. I have never had a problem.

Have a nice trip.
Hal8999 is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 06:12 AM
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I think the problem is the mother thinks it will be more "fun" to give actual euro as a gift than USD, but doesn't know anything about money exchange so doesn't realize how expensive that will be. Money is money, so I think she could get over that idea and just give USD as a gift and the recipients can put it in their bank account to use with their ATM or debit card. Problem solved. If she is really dead set on doing this (which I think not), you'd have to shop around to find the best exchange rate to see if you could do better than what a bank might charge, which might be about 7 pct. I would get very annoyed at my mother if she did that, I'll admit, as it would be creating work for me which I wouldn't want to do at all.

jkbritt is confusing ATM cards with debit cards as you can't buy things with an ATM card. Also, you couldn't drain a bank account as there are limits, so that just isn't true. I have an ATM card with is NOT a debit card which some people seem to think doesn't exist, but they still do. It is solely for use to withdraw cash at an ATM, that's all. I cannot buy things with it, and it has no VISA logo on it. It's just a bank card to withdraw money from my own accounts. I don't know how a computer program could easily find out my PIN if someone got my ATM card (they wouldn't get it from me, as I never enter it in front of anyone nor have it visible to anyone watching or a camera), as it would have to generate a list of 10 to the 4th power of numbers (really more as some PINS are 6 digits), or 10,000 combinations. Sure, you can print out a list of 10,000 numbers, but then what -- some guy enters them one by one into an ATM machine until they find the one that works? I think that would take rather long and can't imagine a guy on the street standing at an ATM machine doing that. If it were 6 digits, that would be another 1,000,000 combos to try, so I guess without knowing how long the PIN is, in theory someone would have to enter over a million combinations to try to randomly guess your PIN.
Christina is online now  
Sep 19th, 2009, 07:04 AM
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None of my banks offer ATM cards any more. 10 years ago, I had a choice of ATM or debit cards. I took ATM cards to Europe then. But now if I have a checking account, my banks only issue debit cards.

I can still get ATM cards if I only have a savings account, but such card is useless at ATMs in Europe.
greg is offline  

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