What kind of Currency Should We take?

Old Aug 13th, 2002, 02:21 PM
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What kind of Currency Should We take?

Is it best to take traveller's cheques, some U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars or just use the ATM machines. Would Canadian dollars be accepted there? Are ATM machines easily accessible all over Portugal?

Old Aug 13th, 2002, 02:30 PM
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Don't take ANY currency, except the few US$ or Can$ you might want to use enroute. Same for travelers' cheques. Only a FEW in either US$ or Can$ to use for dire emergencies.

For 99% of your cash requirements, use your ATM card, and creditcards for most purchases, petrol, car rental etc.
Old Aug 13th, 2002, 02:32 PM
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Posted here on another thread, just minutes ago:

Author: Rex ([email protected])
Date: 08/13/2002, 06:30 pm

Message: Here are your five best bets:

1. Credit cards
2. Credit cards
3. Credit cards that work in an ATM
4. ATM cards
5. Cash or travelers checks - - tie

Best wishes,


Old Aug 13th, 2002, 02:44 PM
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No matter what you hear, you MUST have a little real cash with you all the time in order to avoid some common difficulties. I don't mean a whole lot---just enough to take care of things like parking fees, toilette fees, occasional small purchases, postage stamps, magazines, and lots of other little things that you can think of.

Some of our posters get a little carried away with urging people to take practically no cash; that is not a good idea. Sooner or later, that ATM card will be used to fetch cash anyway. So why not start out with the right mix of money? Usually, I take about $100 to $200 worth of the local currency used in the place where I'll be landing to start my trip. Beyond that amount, usually travelers' cheques are the best. Do have an ATM card and at least one credit card (Visa or MC best). Upon arrival in Europe, test your ATM card as soon as you can and withdraw some cash---how much depends on what you need it for. But test it at any rate, because the card or the machine might not work. Don't be discouraged if you can't get money out of a specific ATM; just find another and try again.

If I'm arriving over a weekend or holiday when I know banks won't be open, I usually take a little extra cash just to be sure.
Old Aug 13th, 2002, 03:05 PM
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Forget the travelers checks. No, most businesses in Europe will not take foreign currency, nor will they take travelers checks, even in local currency. Just get some cash with your ATM when you get there. If you use your credit card to get cash from an ATM, your CC company might charge you big cash advance fees.
Old Aug 13th, 2002, 03:12 PM
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Yes, forget Traveler's checks, get enough foreign currency from your bank before you leave to take care of the first few days of your trip and take $$ cash. It's easy to go to any bank in Europe and exchange your dollars. That's what we do, always!!
Old Aug 13th, 2002, 04:53 PM
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Our strategy is to always take $100 worth of the currency of the country we are landin in. We get the money exchanged at an American Express office near our home. This is just in case things are closed or we need it before we find an ATM. After that we use ATMs along the way for cash and our VISA whenever we can. It is so easy to get cash from an ATM that it's scary. Traveler's cheques are a pain in the butt and we took them once just-in-case and never used them.
Old Aug 13th, 2002, 05:16 PM
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This Spring we spent 10 weeks in PT. We brought 500Euros with us, and replenished them at ATMS...with a very occasional "dud". Once in Braga (on a Sunday we tried 4 machines without results.) Other than that NP.

We also brought with us 1200Euro in American Express Travlers Checks. Sure hotels were willing to accept them, however most wanted to levy a 15% surcharge! We came back with 1150Euro ...our bank charged us a 5% currency conversion fee! Smile. Our debit and credit cards were charged a 2% fee for ATM transactions.

My advice, similiar to above, carry 300Euro in cash, carry several different ATM cards (not debit cards!, although we found they worked >90% as well as the Credit Card type.)

With the Feb 15, 2002 introduction of the Euro in PT there seemed to be a chronic shortage of "change". Once in Castelo Branco we were turned away from a site, because the fee was 0.5Euro, and all we had were 10Euro bills! But that was unique to the currency changeover and the very early season.

Some CDN cash will be useful on your return to the airport.
Old Aug 13th, 2002, 07:24 PM
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Old Aug 15th, 2002, 12:27 PM
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Hi. As for ATM´s you have lots in Lisbon and Porto, but in smaller villages there are less, but there is always at least a couple of them (even in tiny villages - in Corvo island in Azores you have 300 residents, and one ATM, so there is always a machine nearby)
As for foreign currency: USD or Canadian dollars normally aren't accepted, in fact, only taxi drivers (to keep their bad reputation worldwide) accept USD, but you always loose money.
Old Aug 15th, 2002, 01:13 PM
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I have carried the same $200 in traveler’s checks for the last five years to Europe. I get some local currency at an ATM at the airport.
The traveler’s checks are for emergencies only.
Old Aug 15th, 2002, 01:45 PM
Cash / ATM
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Disagreeing with most of the above posts, here is my experience and my method (tested recnetly in Amsterdam, Switzerland, Paris, Venice and Mexico):

Never buy local currency from home, it's a waste. Simply do it at the airport window when you first land. The charges will be less and exchange rate better than your home bank.

Secondly don't count on any ONE method. That's potentially a horrible situation just waiting to happen. Having said that:

1) DO carry cash. Don't be afraid of it. I take at least $500US.

2) ATMs are the best ~ when available, when functioning, providing your card is not lost or damaged. Never leave yourself with only this option. Also take your daily maximum withdrawl amount when you use one (because charges are based per transaction on your home bank's international fee).

3) Travelers checks are OK as a back-up. But many small places might not except them, so you have to go to a regular bank to change them.

4) Credit cards, again, are OK for emergencies but smaller places may not except them, even some hotels and restaurants. Good for identification of if you plan to rent a car. The more high-end you travel the more likely you will be in places able to accomodate them.
Old Aug 16th, 2002, 09:47 AM
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A note that debit cards in Portugal use a four-digit PIN. If your card has a six-digit PIN, go to your bank and change it.

We were there in May and took $200 in Euros and $200 in US travellers cheques with us and then used ATM's the rest of the time. The only town where there was no ATMs was Sortelha and that is a bit off the beaten path. We had no problem with a Royal Bank debit card through Spain and Portugal. We used the credit card only for hotels and meals, and even then, we mostly used cash.

If I recall correctly, we actually had only about $20 CDN and withdrew in Pearson on the way home. US and CDN $ are not of much use there. You will get a bad exchange rate.

About 10 years ago my husband had his wallet stolen out of a buttoned and velcroed pants pocket so we try to carry only one or two days' of cash ever.

We have found in Europe in general that CDN travellers' cheques are a pain in the butt.
Old Aug 16th, 2002, 09:53 AM
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When you suggest to use ATM card but not a debit card, what is the difference?
I have a visa debit card with a pin that comes out of my checking account, which is this?
Oh, I hate this, the worry is about to ruin my trip.
Old Aug 16th, 2002, 02:13 PM
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Debit vs Credit card. Not much difference. Some car rental firms want a credit card. Both can be used interchangeably. The Credit card offers a little bit of added protection for purchases, replacement, etc. But not enough to worry yourself sick over.

Just go have fun. You will love Portugal!!
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