When to exchange US dollars to Euros

Old May 21st, 2013, 11:36 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When to exchange US dollars to Euros

I will be traveling to Barcelona and Venice from California in June this year. I believe both currencies are Euros. When and where is it best to exchange my US dollars to Euros? Before or during the trip, or should I just use US dollars and they would still accept it?
travel_4_food is offline  
Old May 21st, 2013, 11:42 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 25,940
Received 4 Likes on 4 Posts
Unless you know how the markets move I'd pull Euros from the first airport you land at in Euroland.

Do not try to buy in dollars, firstly it is frankly rude, secondly, if you do get anyone to take them, they will return the favour by ripping you off on the exchange rate.

Saying all of that you may see "$s taken" signs in just a few shops say near the docks to service unsuspecting cruise passengers. I'd avoid the temptation.

What I would do is search this website to understand if you are hit by any problems with US credit cards (search "Chip and Pin") to make sure you don't have any issues there as well.
bilboburgler is online now  
Old May 21st, 2013, 11:50 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27,617
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Where can you spend euros in California?
thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2013, 02:17 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<< Before or during the trip, or should I just use US dollars and they would still accept it? >>

If you want a bad exchange rate then you can do either of these things. If you want the most for your money use your ATM/debit card at an ATM machine (same as you would do at home). In Barcelona avoid ATMs at La Caixa as they charge a E3 fee. It's the only ATM in Europe that I've found that charges a fee.

Check how much your bank charges to use a foreign ATM machine and if they do charge then try to set up an account in a bank that does not charge a fee, such as a credit union.

I know Bank of America charges a hefty fee to use foreign ATM machines. The only time they wave the fee is if you use an affiliated bank (if an affiliate exists in Italy and Spain).
adrienne is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2013, 04:06 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,886
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You cannot use $ is europe - any more then spend euros in CA.(This isn't 1945.)

You do not "exchange" currencies anywhere. You pay for all larger costs with a credit card and you pull walking around money from your checking account at an ATM - with a debit card NOT a credit card (which will cost you a very high rate of interest).

You need to check what your bank charges for ex-US ATM use - and see if they have partnerships with any banks in Spain or Italy. The best way to save is to pull cast for 4 or 5 days at a time to limit your bank's charges (do not go pulling 40 or 50 euros at a time).
nytraveler is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2013, 04:18 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,063
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I use a Bank of America card, & go onto their website to find a partner bank in that country. I aso get about $50-100 in euros here from BOA. Yes I pay more and pay a fee, but I don't ever want to buy euros at an airport. If you check when you get there will find it exhorbinant(sp). I also dont want to be stuck maybe waiting for the money exchange to open, etc. This way I can buy my bus/metro ticket to the city center.

The ATMs pull up so you can continue in English and even I find it easy to use.
jan47ete is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2013, 05:48 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,427
Likes: 0
Received 11 Likes on 4 Posts
There are ATMs at the airports, no need to use the money exchange, pay its rates, or wait for it to open.
Nikki is online now  
Old May 22nd, 2013, 05:48 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 229
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am in the minority on this, but I like to change a good bit of dollars into Euros before leaving the U.S. I do this with Wells Fargo and pay the spot exchange rate plus five percent plus five dollars for the service. Look online to find a branch which offers this service. Since I don't have an ATM card that provides no foreign transaction fees, this is competitive with what I would have to pay using an ATM, except I don't have the hassle of finding an ATM which will accept my card. Some people do have "free" ATM cards with no fees, but for me this would entail opening a new bank account, and I just don't feel like doing this to save $50 or so.

Again, personal experience, we had an ATM card get eaten in Italy once, after the bank closed Friday afternoon. If I had not had a good bit of cash plus credit cards we would have had to put our trip on hold until the next Monday so we could retrieve our card. My wife and other family members have also been victim of debit card fraud, and I just don't like any card which drains money out of my checking account.

This is just my view. Using dollars abroad was a great idea in the early 1970s, when currencies were controlled and people wanted to get their hands on dollars. It's a terrible idea today. Expect to lose 15-25 percent of the value of your dollars if you do this.
FHurdle is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2013, 06:43 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,429
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There are always ATM machines in the arrival area of European airports. That is always the first thing I do after I get my luggage.
As long as you tell your bank when and where you will be traveling you should have no problem at all.
MarthaT is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2013, 07:26 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,210
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I NEVER get foreign currency at home (bad exchange rates plus fees), so I always get cash in the country I'm visiting. And except in some very limited circumstances, you cannot use US dollars abroad. People want and deserve to be paid in their own currency. Would you take euros if someone was paying you for something? No ... so why would you ever expect someone else in the world to do that.

1. Always use your ATM/Debit card in Europe to take out money from a European ATM (ideally finding one that your bank will not charge a fee for using). This is the only way to get the best exchange rate and it's always better than getting money at home. FYI: Many (if not most) European ATMs are actually on the streetside of banks and aren't in a closed vestibule. I prefer to use an enclosed ATM, but that's just not always possible.
2. Never use your ATM/Debit card to buy anything when you are traveling abroad. The money leaves your account immediately and may not be restored for a long time if there is any fraud.
3. Do use your credit card (even if it carries a 3% foreign-exchange fee) to buy expensive items and pay for your hotels. It's safer and generally gets you the same exchange rate you'll get by taking money out of a European ATM.
4. Always carry some cash with you, but rarely more than 200 euros at a time. That way you have a bit of cash if something goes wrong but not enough to bankrupt you if you lose it.
doug_stallings is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2013, 07:29 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49,560
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<<Some people do have "free" ATM cards with no fees, but for me this would entail opening a new bank account, and I just don't feel like doing this to save $50 or so.>>

Well, I do. I can use that $50 for a nice meal or a nice purchase. I don't understand people who just throw money at banks for no reason. It doesn't take a lot of effort to open an account at a credit union or bank that doesn't steal money from you for no reason.

There are ATMs on just about every street corner in Europe, at every airport, every train station, you name it. It doesn't take much effort to slip your card into one and pull out euros, less effort than it takes you drink your first coffee after arrival.

As for trying to use U.S. dollars in Europe, well, that's a rather appalling idea. I suppose there might be the occasional merchant here or there who would see that as a marvelous opportunity to rip of a gullible tourist and who would actually do it, but it would show a stunning lack of cultural sensitivity and you'd be very worthy of whatever huge monetary hit you'd take.
StCirq is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2013, 07:45 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,160
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We have accounts in 2 different credit unions, one where we do our regular banking and another which we just use for travel. And we have debit cards and credit cards from each. It only takes $5 to open a checking account. We have rarely been to the first credit union, where we've had an account and used it regularly for 30 odd years. We pay all our bills online and have done most other business online or over the phone.

(Most credit unions do not charge a transaction fee for foreign ATM withdrawals and the conversion fee is a very reasonable 1% over the interbank rate.)

We have never had any problems using ATMs abroad, including China. If you're worried about an ATM eating your card, stick to bank ATMs when the bank is open. And never use your debit card when you can use a credit card, where you have greater protection.

FH and his family members have encountered problems, but that doesn't accurately represent the experience of the vast majority of travelers.
Mimar is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2013, 10:30 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 229
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Mimar is wise to have a separate checking account, using one just for travel. Certainly if Mimar is only paying a one percent overcharge the use of such an ATM card makes sense.

As I have posted, we've had some bad experiences. My wife's ATM card does charge her the 3 percent charge, plus an access charge, so for us it is easier AND CHEAPER to just change money beforehand.

At some point I may go ahead and open a travel ATM account with a no-fee card. But even should I do so I am still likely to pre-exchange at least a few hundred dollars in advance, provided I can do so at a low fee. I like having cash money on arrival, with no looking for an ATM to take my card and no waiting behind a bunch of people trying to withdraw money at the same time.

This is just my view, and I admit again I am in the minority on this.
FHurdle is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2013, 06:41 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,160
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just want to add, don't use a credit card to withdraw cash, except in an emergency. Interest starts immediately.
Mimar is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2013, 09:29 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 24,295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Using an ATM only when a bank is open doesn't always solve the problem of a machine that eats the card. Once in Nice we had that problem, and we couldn't get the card back for 2 days because someone had to come and unlock the machine to retrieve the considerable number of eaten cards.
Underhill is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2013, 09:50 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We carry dollars to exchange into Euros and Swiss Francs all the time (at least twice a year). Our usual stop is at a bank in the European airport (for us that is usually Zurich or Frankfurt). We do not get foreign currency from our local Wells Fargo bank! Too expensive!!We also use ATM cards for several accounts.

We also always come home with the left over Francs and Euros, since we know we will be able to use them in the near future.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2013, 10:02 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,900
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<Some people do have "free" ATM cards with no fees, but for me this would entail opening a new bank account, and I just don't feel like doing this to save $50 or so.>>

I don't either. I could see doing that IF you liked the new bank and wanted to use it as your regular bank, of course. But I would never do that just to get a certain card for a vacation. I presume most people have a reason for the bank they chose and it is never just one issue. At least, I do. If someone has no reason for picking their bank and finds another one that is equally convenient and has as good terms on other things, sure, I'd change.

Now my bank now does have no ATM fees (for me, anyway, I have a premium account), but for a few years it had an ATM fee and I didn't change banks just for that reason as even though I travel to Europe each year, I still only use the ATM a couple times during a trip, I mainly use credit cards.

But what I would suggest was get a second bank for savings that might have an fee free card. That way you don't have to change banks, but you have the use of such a card when you need it (and it can be good to have 2 cards as a backup). And if it is done by mail or online, you don't need to make that many transactions if it is just a savings account. So I do recommend that, but not changing your entire bank account just for a vacation if it doesn't make sense in other ways. I have a second savings account I opened online with Capital One which is a money market account only. I get a debit card that is fee free and no foreign transaction markup. Money markets don't pay much nowadays, but it actually pays more than my checking account, of course.
Christina is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2013, 12:39 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<<Yes I pay more and pay a fee, but I don't ever want to buy euros at an airport. >>

(1) Who "buys Euros" at an airport? Every international airport has ATMs in abundance. Geez, even the Japanese, who have fewer ATMs per capita than Europeans or Americans, had two within about 15 meters of clearing immigration at Narita.

I haven't changed dollars into local exchange media before leaving the US since 1997 (and I got a crap rate from my local C---e bank then, Itellyouwhut).

(2) To add to this good point - "Just want to add, don't use a credit card to withdraw cash, except in an emergency. Interest starts immediately" - that's not at a purchase interest rate (which is the advertised rate that the card purveyors use to get you to subscribe), it's at a cash withdrawal interest rate, which is usually higher. And that immediate interest accrual sucks.
BigRuss is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2013, 12:47 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"I am still likely to pre-exchange at least a few hundred dollars in advance, provided I can do so at a low fee . . ."

FHurdle - you usually don't get hit with a "fee" in the US when exchanging, you get an exchange rate that's about 8.5% or more worse than the Interbank rate (the true exchange rate). Thus, even with your wife's ATM card and access fee (for us, it would be 6.5% for the first $100, 5% on the first $200 with our crappy Chase deal [hence, the other account with Cap One]), you get hit harder exchanging at the US bank.
BigRuss is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2013, 01:55 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 229
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
BigRuss, when changing money with Wells Fargo I was charged just under five percent over the "spot" rate. Today the Euro is trading at roughly 1.29. That means that when getting money from Wells Fargo I would pay approximately $1.354 per Euro.

Since my wife doesn't have a "no foreign exchange fee" ATM card, paying a five percent premium is as good or better deal than using an ATM card. And we don't have to wait in line at the airport to use an ATM, or walk around trying to find one to take our card, or worry about it being eaten.
FHurdle is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -