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Money matters - question about $$ in Europe

Money matters - question about $$ in Europe

Old Apr 22nd, 2004, 02:07 PM
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Money matters - question about $$ in Europe

It's my first time to Europe - we're going to Italy and London and I had a question about $$. I've read everywhere that exchanging your money at the airports or at banks is not recommended because of the horrible exchange rate you get. But, what should I do? I'm assuming I'll need some type of local currency when I land (I'll need to pay for transportation to my hotel) How much cash should I carry with me on my flight i.e. how much cash will I need right away?

Is it best to just use credit cards for everything and then use ATM's when I do need to have cash??? Should I even bother to get travelers checks??

I'm going to London for 2 days and to Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice and Udine) for 3 weeks.

THANKS!!!
jamocha151 is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2004, 02:37 PM
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Type "ATM" into the text box at the top of this page to pull up hundreds of prior threads on this topic.

Your arrival airport will have numerous ATMs. Get local currency there.

If you are nervous and really want to have some prior to arrival, get about $50 worth at your departure airport. The exchange rate will be lousy, but it's not that important for a small amount.

Use credit cards when possible and ATMs for cash as needed.

Have a wonderful trip.
Lesli is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2004, 02:47 PM
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Ok, this is what I do.
About 2 weeks before my trip I contact my local bank and order $100-$200 worth of currency for the first place I'm going to. Some big banks don't require any advance notice for euro or pounds, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

The exchange rate will not be great, but I don't care.I like having the local cash in my pocket when I land. Airports and train stations do have atms, but I just don't want to deal with it when I land, or find that there's a line, or one of the atms is out of order. But that's me being anal.

When you order your currency from your bank, be sure to request small bills, so that they don't for example try to palm off only 100 pound or euro notes.

100 pounds or 100 euro or whatever amount you get, will cover your transportation from the airport (even if by taxi) as well as tips at the hotel on your arrival, as well as your first meal(s). After that, use credit cards for as many purchases as possible, cash from atm withdrawals for small purchases (souvenirs, snacks, and such)and for tips. A small number of restaurants and cafes and shops don't take credit cards, but if you are stuck they almost always know where the nearest atm is.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2004, 02:49 PM
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I agree with Lesli!
Check with your credit card providers: some charge only the V/MC 1% (USAA) and some 3% (Citi/AA/MC) and the exchange rates vary as well - I use my USAA cards overseas (never in the USA)despite no cash back nor "miles".
ATMs are fine as well and the exchange rates or generally OK.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2004, 03:03 PM
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Everyone has their own system matching their comfort levels. I carry $300-400 U.S. cash split between my person and bags, and then exchange it at banks. I also take an ATM card for withdrawl in local currency. You will only need a small amount "right away" for a taxi, bus, train maybe sandwich and bottle of water.

I prefer not to use credit cards except for emergencies or to pay a large hotel bill, simply personal preference. Travelers checks again only as backup (or if a hotel won't accept a charge card). Except for the hotel bill, plan to cash them ahead in a bank (not use direct in a shop or restaurant).
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Old Apr 22nd, 2004, 03:05 PM
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My rule of thumb is to know where I can get local money when I arrive. If I don't know for sure, I get enough local currency before I leave to get me to my hotel. If I do know, I wait.

In your case, you are arriving in Italy and you need euros. Those can be bought in the USA at most major banks for about 5% above the wholesale rate of exchange. If I were in your position, I would pay the extra few dollars the minimum number of euros would cost me and have them in my pocket when I arrived. The most I would get would be enough for cab fare, perhaps breakfast or lunch, and a little extra.

On the other hand, if I arrive in Munich from the States, I know that the airport has ATMs and I know where they are. The machines are reliable and I can draw out euros there. So I wait.

I use my credit card extensively for large purchases. But small purchases sometimes are cash only payments.
Therefore the ATM is useful for spending money.

Be sure that you have a credit card that does not charge you the exta percentage for a foreign currency conversion. (Some do; some don't. MNBA is one that does not and I use that card overseas.)

So in a nutshell: I have some local currency on arrival (or know where to get it), use a credit card for major purchases, and use my ATM card to access my checking account for street money.
Because of mishaps, I carry two different credit cards and my wife and I each have an ATM card.
Out of habit, I carry a few traveler's checks, but some of mine are old friends. They have gone to Europe, Canada, New York, etc. with me on numerous occasions. They are sort of a security blanket.

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Old Apr 22nd, 2004, 03:47 PM
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Well, you can be sure that there will be currency exchangers open in London and Rome (FCO) airports, unless you're arriving in the middle of the night. That means even if you can't find a working ATM, you can still exchange money.

And the rate at those "expensive" exchangers cannot be worse (or much worse) then you can get here at your bank.

Therefore, you really don't need to get pounds or euro here, in my opinion, as long as you have US$ cash, and you're not arriving at a tiny airport or any airport in the middle of the night. Worse case is that you have to look for the exchanger, and wait in line to get your money.
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