Old Dec 25th, 2000, 03:31 PM
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What is everyones advice on travel money in Europe (London,Brussels,Rhineland,Innsbruk,
Vienna,Venice,Lucerne,Milan and Paris). Is it best to use credit cards, traveler checks or exchange cash each time? Any other advice is appreciated, my first time to Europe.
Old Dec 25th, 2000, 03:44 PM
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It seems the best approach is to use credit cards to pay for things - you get a good rate - do not use credit card as ATM - you will be charged as a cash advance. For cash needs, ATMs abound - you need a four digit pin. Most people on this board have brought their travelers checks back with them but you may want a small amount for back up. You should have two credit cards and two ATM cards in case the mag strip goes out, one is stolen, etc.. My experience is limited to Italy in October but you might do a search for ATMs, etc. Hope this helps. Merry Christmas and Happy traveling New Year!
Old Dec 25th, 2000, 03:48 PM
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Simpllified answer, credit cards and ATMs as much as possible. That presumes your credit card is paid up and not incurring interest from the time you make the charge, and that you're taking cash from your checking account and not a 'cash advance' against your credit card.

It's probably a little more complicated than that for most of us, though, and you'll find an extended article on the subject at

Old Dec 25th, 2000, 04:03 PM
Bob Brown
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My standard approach which has evolved over the years is now this:
1. Depending upon where and when, I show up at my first destination with the minimal amount of local currency my bank will sell me so that I don't have to look for an ATM just after arrival.
(I also has some Austrian schillings when I arrived in Salzburg at night and wanted enough to pay the cab fare to my hotel. Good thing, too, because the ATM was out of order. Out of money??)
2. For most of my currency needs I use my ATM card against my checking account.
I find it easy to do and ATM's are usually easy to find.
3. For all eligible purchases I use my credit card. Using it reduces the amount of cash I need to carry and it gives the best rate of exchange available to me.
4. For an emergency backup, I carry a few travelers checks in US dollars. If I don't use them, I can convert them at home. In fact, they were my source of cash after the last trip until my retirement checks came in.

The last step I want to take is to convert from one currency to another at a bank. First, coins are not accepted, so you either give them away or carry them around with you indefinitely. Second, when converting one currency to another, you take a clipping on the exhange rate. I converted some French Francs to Swiss Francs last summer after we found some French francs that we had forgotten about and the bar car closed at Frasne. Because I had no plans to return to France, we converted the francs, but the commission taken by the bank was non trivial. Don't ask me how much; I just shut my eyes and did it.
Old Dec 26th, 2000, 09:14 AM
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Things to do with the coins (don't be fooled by change: 10ff is about $1.50 and 20ff is $3.00; pound sterling coin is worth about $1.50 - use them up as soon as you get them, unless you're planning a return trip. Learn the coins; lots of Americans just hand over big bills because they don't understand the money, and end up with their weight in coin): At airports there are boxes and on most flights there are envelopes to donate your change to feed hungry children; there are jewelry findings to make a coin into a charm; flexible magnetic strip, cut to size and glued to a coin, make it a refrigerator magnet.
Old Dec 26th, 2000, 09:27 AM
Bob Brown
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Let me make a slight amendment to my earlier post. We had no plans to return to France on that trip!! My love affair with Paris is still in second place after the Berner Oberland in Switzerland, which is pretty good considering I prefer mountains.

Elvira is absolutely correct about the value of coins. Just because we as a society don't know what to make of coins larger than 25 cents, don't make the mistake of thinking that metal in your pocket is like a pound of pennies.

My wife gets a little amused at me when I conduct a "French metal" count each evening. But about our 3rd day last summer, I figured out we had 200 ff in coins! More than $25.
But purchasing a carnet of 10 bus/Metro tickets, and a stop at La Brioche Doree took care of the problem.
Old Dec 26th, 2000, 09:50 AM
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Bob's advice is very good. Usually I like to get a couple of hundred dollars in local currency, if we are going to a couple of destinations, I break it up, $100.00 French $150.00 Pounds Sterling etc. My husband and I split it in half and each carry some in our money belts and a small (one day's worth) of cash in our pockets, we use this as Bob said, for taxi's upon arrival, coffee in Airports, magazines, tips etc... Then we pay for our rooms and as many meals as possible on our Milage Plus Master Card, then we use ATM's for all the rest, transportation etc. It always helps to have a couple of sources for money, in case, as Bob mentioned ,the ATM at your location is not working, or, as happened to us in Wales over Easter Weekend... your ATM strip becomes demagnetized and you can not get any cash... panic panic! Luckily we could get cash advances on our Visa for the rest of the trip, but we generally don't like to do that for obvious reasons... Have a great trip and remember that Discover card is not accepted in Europe and as mentioned above, you will need a 4 didgit PIN at many locals in Europe. Bon Voyage!
Old Jan 1st, 2001, 05:18 AM
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I agree with the above posters, but just wanted to mention that I have needed to pay cash for many things in other countries because the small places we like to visit, eat and shop in just don't take credit cards. It never hurts to have a little cash (or as pointed out - coins) As for the coins, don't be shy or feel cheap, the sales people expect you to pay with coin and other than stocking up on gum and candy at the airport you'll be stuck if you don't spend them!
Old Jan 1st, 2001, 07:52 AM
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You will find ATMs at every corner in most of the places you mentioned. Maybe the only place where you will have to scrounge around a bit is Venice (I was on Giudecca island, so I had to take a boat to Pza. San Marco for an ATM). But if you want to have check out their positions before you go, you can find the one that is closest to your hotel ... a great idea, makes life so much easier ... by going to the following site:
You will find that the majority of ATMs take most cards.
Old Jan 2nd, 2001, 05:40 AM
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During a 10 day trip at the end of November 2000 I used my ATM card for all cash I needed and my credit card for all major purchases plus hotel and meals. I had traveler checks with me and never cashed one. We were in Belgium and France and never had any trouble finding an ATM machine even in the smallest towns. Only one time did I find one that was out of money (in the village just at the end of the causeway leading to Mont St Michel but on the Mont itself there was one). When I received my bank statement in December I found that I had received a very nice exchange rate, and even with the $1.25 charge for the ATM I did much better than I ever would have at money exchange places cashing checks. I also was pleased at the exchange rate I got on my credit card and there was no service charge (Citibank MC) plus I got a mile for every dollar I spent posted to my Freq. Flier program.

Take traveller checks for backup but you can pretty much count on the ATM card and credit cards throughout.

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