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Travelers cheques, credit cards or cash in France?

Travelers cheques, credit cards or cash in France?

Old May 6th, 2007, 07:37 PM
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Travelers cheques, credit cards or cash in France?

'm taking my first trip abroad later this month and would love some more expert opinions:
I'm going to France. I know I need to get some Euros for basic spending, but would you recommend getting traveler's cheques? Just using a credit card? Any advice?

I saw that American Express has what appears to be a combo -- traveler's cheques in the form of a debit card -- but I don't know what the most advantageous solution is.

Thanks, as always!
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Old May 6th, 2007, 08:13 PM
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Get a ATM card (or Debit card, Not a Credit card) and withdraw cash from an ATM. Very convenient, best exchange rates and lowest fees!

Check with your bank about the debit card/ATM card to see if they will charge any fees. Also learn what the daily withdrawal limit is?

One of my banks charges significantly higher fees than the other bank.
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Old May 6th, 2007, 08:19 PM
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The answer janis gave you on the US forum is a very good one. She pretty much covered it all.
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Old May 6th, 2007, 08:21 PM
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Definitely use an ATM card. I wold also have a spare card just in case. Sometimes a bank won't take the ATM card for some reason. I travel all the time and once when in Paris my credit card number was stolen from a purchase I made with my ATM/MasterCard. th enumber was taken from the swipe machine. It could happen here but all the same I only use cash now to make purchases abroad.
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Old May 6th, 2007, 09:11 PM
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As Fibonacci says, check the charges at your banks for the ATM use. One of my banks charges $2 for using a machine other than theirs plus $3 for using a foreign machine plus a 3% foreign transaction fee. The other bank charges $1.25 for using a machine other than theirs plus a 1% foreign transaction fee. That's a difference of 3.2% on a $300 withdrawal.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 02:31 AM
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You have four options: A credit card, a check/debit card, travelers checks and USA cash. France uses Euros as its currency.
If you use a credit card for purchases you will incur conversion costs, probably 3%. Make sure you pay the card bill on time. Arrange service with your bank.
Convert USA bank cash (debit/credit card) at an ATM into Euros and use them for purchases. Cost, the ATM fee and perhaps a 1% conversion charge.
Travellers checks. Not recommended because of difficulty of cashing them.
USA Dollars. Change at money stores. Rates will vary; highest at airport and hotel.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 03:38 AM
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My advice...unless you think you must have a few Euro available when you first hit the arrival airport terminal (and if you do you can get those at a change bureau at the departure airport but only get the minimum) then get all your cash from an ATM.

Use a credit card and cash from an ATM; NO traveler's checks..more hassle than they are worth IMo and a lot of merchants won't accept them.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 06:40 AM
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FWIW pretty much all of the cafes and restaurants use a small, hand-held wireless machne to process the bill on your credit card. Once in a while the waiter will tell you the card is no good - it would not process. Ask the waiter...

Encore, s'il vous plait

...as this is usually because of the machine, and a second try will cause it to work.

Pjk
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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I spend a lot of time in Orleans, a city of some 100,000 or so and no banks in town change money or travelers cheques anymore - only can be done at the post office at not great rates. I assume this is representative of much of France except perhaps in heavily touristed areas.

So travelers cheques are not for France i think.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:30 AM
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In summary...for low cost and convenience...

You could get some euros at home, to cover getting from your airport to your hotel on the first day...say 100 euros. You will pay more at home, but since it is a small amount, not a big deal

Use ATM card, linked to your checking account, not your credit card. Make sure that you have a 4 digit pin. You will be able to use this everywhere. I believe, and others here can confirm...that you could check to see if your bank has any arrangement with other banks in France to reduce costs. Also, know what network your card is on (Cirrus,etc..) so you can confirm machine over there will be on same. I've never had a problem with this, but to be sure...

Use credit cards to pay for large items like hotel, big purchases. Realize that North American cards don't have the smart chip technology, so buying things like SNCF tickets from a machine won't work, need to to go to ticket office or use cash.

Don't use traveller's cheques or any VISA/AMEX prepaid products, bad fees.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 02:43 PM
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The above reply is perfect. My husband insisted on taking some travelers checks last fall. NO bank would cash them. (In contrast to our experiences 20 years ago.) ATM and credit cards definitely the way to go. Be sure to have a backup in case something goes awry.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 02:51 PM
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I haven't used traveler's checks since the late 1980's.

DO call your bank(s), both for ATM and credit card, and let them know when you will be in France. Very important, as banks are getting more fussy every day.

We're off to France at the end of next week. Hooray!
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Old May 7th, 2007, 02:56 PM
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As well as informing your bank, find out what the OVERSEAS contact number is "for when things go wrong"
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