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What is a better deal - US dollars exchange for Euro using Debit/ATM or via a Bank in Italy (dollars in cash)?

What is a better deal - US dollars exchange for Euro using Debit/ATM or via a Bank in Italy (dollars in cash)?

May 24th, 2005, 08:28 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 19
What is a better deal - US dollars exchange for Euro using Debit/ATM or via a Bank in Italy (dollars in cash)?

Similar topic have been discussed in the forum before. However, most of them compare Debit/ATM with Travelers checks.
Most of the people have mentioned that using debit cards. However, the debit cards could have the following charges:

. two to five percent conversion fee
. a commission of about one percent
. a transaction fee each time you use an ATM. As ATMs may have upper limit we may have to withdraw cash multiple times.

Q) How does withdrawing cash (Euro) using Debit cards in the ATM machines compare to exchanging dollars (cash) in a bank in Europe [not one of the money exchaging places]?

I have a visa debit card from Bank Of America and also from DCU credit union.

Any feedback is welcome.

mvermani is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 08:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,116
Hi mv,

An ATM/debit card used in an ATM machine gets the current bank rate plus 1% (added by Visa or MC) plus whatever your bank charges.

My bank does not add a conversion fee and charges $0.75 for an "out of network" transaction.

You will not get a better rate changing USD to Euro.

ira is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 08:42 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
My debit cards cost $1 each time I use one to withdraw cash. There is no currency exchange markup, and no percentage fee. My advice is to shop around.
Robespierre is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,113
Credit union issued ATM/debit cards generally charge less for out of network transactions (mine are also 75 cents each), so that would be my suggestion.

When we were in Italy we used our ATM/debit card daily and had credit cards for back up. It is also a good idea to bring two ATM cards just in case one were to get eaten by a machine.
Statia is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 09:18 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,323
Talk to your bank before you go. Most banks will waive fees if you have a certain $ amount in your accounts or if you have a good relationship with someone at your branch.
motor_city_girl is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,194
<<There is no currency exchange markup...>>

Statements like this make me uneasy that someone might think that you can get the "inter-bank" rate (i.e., published in the WSJ). Every financial transaction has a "buy" and a "sell" rate. Likewise, buying and selling currency across a teller's window has a buy and a sell rate. With your ATM, your bank may have buy and sell rates that are very close to each other, but I don't think it is ever accurate to say that there is "no markup" (it may indeed be less than 0.5% - - which is considerably better than you can ever do with cash).

But I have never heard of true total cost-free buying and selling of currency with ZERO cost to it. There is always a spread even if it is only a few hundredths of one percent. And sometimes the spread widens or contracts during the course of a day, and either direction can move by tenths (of one percent) or more in a single day; this is how currency arbitrageurs and speculators make (and lose) their money - - and keep currency markets liquid.

Robespierre's bottom line is still exactly on the mark. Cash "exchange" across a teller window has to reflect the cost of making that one small transaction (and thus will be in several percent); an ATM withdrawal only has to reflect the ongoing daily business in millions between your bank's network, and the network that is selling you the euros. It will inevitably be your better bet.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 1,099
ATMs I think are best. My husband and I each have checking accounts at Wells Fargo, and we split the money we're taking between the two so if one gets lost, we have enough to get through at least until a replacement shows up. Also carry a credit card in our money belt as a backup.

Plus, there's no need to go into a bank, wait in any lines or deal with some renegade bad deal you might encounter.

Happy travels.

jules4je7 is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 09:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,244
If you exchange dollars in Europe, you will not get as good an exchange rate as you will using the ATM machine for Euro directly. In addition, you will probably have to pay a commission to the bank.

We bring some $$$ for back-up and emergencies and always ending bring them back with us.

Budman is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 09:48 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
Which would you rather do...approach any ATM at any time of the day or night and get the amount of money you want...OR wait for a bank to open, go inside, wait in line (assuming there may be one) make the exchange, etc.

I suppose depending on your particular card and banking situation this savings may be worth the time and energy....perhaps not.
Intrepid1 is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 10:09 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 3,925
Intrepid, I was thinking the exact same thing.
Brian_in_Charlotte is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 01:17 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 173
An ATM worked the best for us. We got an MBNA Mastercard that has be great all over Europe. Be sure to notify your credit card company that you will be travelling abroad. That will keep them for getting worried if they see a charge in say Houston one day and Rome the next. We had a friend whose cc company stopped the card because they feared someone had stolen it.
Geckolips is offline  

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