When to exchange US dollars to Euros

Old May 23rd, 2013, 02:07 PM
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Buying €/£ at home is not a good idea. There are always one or two who suggest doing so . . Great - it works for <i>them</i>. But to advise someone asking about the best way to get cash overseas that is not being helpful IMO. Anyone is totally free to waste a little money and not worry about carrying all that cash with them -- but PLEASE don't suggest it is a sensible way to operate in the 21st century.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 02:13 PM
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I know that in the US it is accepted practice to tell your bank you're going abroad.

my only experience of this with a UK bank led to my card being stopped.

DH, who had not told his bank, had no problems.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 02:20 PM
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Interesting. If you don't tell your US bank, your card will almost certainly be blocked (true for both ATM and credit cards). They want to know dates and places, and Capital One will only take 60 days at a time, I have to call them from the road if I'm gone longer. In fact, if I'm buying something from a foreign company, I have to call about that, too.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 02:35 PM
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When we left for our first trip to Europe and were a little anxious about everything we did organise a small amount of euros and pounds through our bank here. Just enough to get us from the airport to our accommodation and to pay for a meal if we wanted.

The next time we didn't bother and just found an ATM at the airport. The first ATM we found wasn't working which was a little stressful, but the next one was fine.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 02:55 PM
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In fact, if I'm buying something from a foreign company, I have to call about that, too.>>

really thursdays? that must be a pain if you're booking a foreign trip.

DH was very grumpy with me for [as he saw it] getting my card blocked and I am under strict instructions not to tell them next time.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 03:35 PM
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If I'm booking a foreign trip I just tell them I'm traveling in that country or countries, and then cancel the alert when I finish. But you're right, it is a pain. It's also a pain to remember to use my Cap One card instead of my Citi card to avoid the foreign conversion fee. I once got hit with that buying from Lonely Planet!
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 04:56 PM
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The OP is going to Venice and Barcelona.

For some reason I have a hard time with Bank
of Venezia ATMs.

When we were at Marco Polo last June, I couldn't understand the ATM keyboard for B of Venezia. Even though the instruction were in English, the key pad was all in Italian.

Luckily, we had euros from Düsseldorf Airport
ATM Deutsche Bank.

How I love Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse!

Same thing at B of Venezia near Rialto. Key pad all in Italian. Red and Green keys.

Keith and I found a Deutsche Bank ATM near San Marco.

So, I would bring some dollars with me in case ATM doesn't work for you at Marco Polo.
You can always exchange a few dollars at Cook's or cambio to at least get you on the Alilaguna or Piazzale Roma bus.

But you could use credit card for tickets at the desk.

You won't be stranded!


Thin, who has 25 euros in his wallet for tickets to ride the Pizzale Roma bus in July
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 06:20 PM
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As an aside, I buy up euros from returning friends - usually they are our DDs' friends. Some younger people (not my kids, hehe) don't feel theyll go back to europe anytime soon and want to get rid of all, inc coins. We strike a deal better than a bank. Plus, these "kids" get dollars for their coins and are really happy as some of them have had a lot! And I get coins for cab tips, drinks at airport etc. . Its win/win.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 08:30 PM
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I'm with Thin. I get about 200-400 Euros before we leave (cabs, first day's food at little places), and get the rest from ATM machines in Europe. I like having some money in case something comes up. I also like to bring about 150€ back from vacation, and keep those small bills and change as seed money - or gifts to family members who are going to Europe.

Use Capital One as my credit card, no fees. Have BofA and use BNP Paribas, Barclays, and other members of their Global Alliance so no $5 fees.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 10:44 PM
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we usually have €100 or so left from our last trip. I keep € change too for luggage trolleys etc. though i don't always remember to take it with me!
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Old May 24th, 2013, 02:41 AM
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Best way to handle money on holiday....

1. Use a credit card for every purchase no matter how large or small. You will be shocked or perhaps not to find that credit cards are taken almost everywhere in this day and age although some may have a silly requirement of spending a minimum amound, perhaps a bit more pervasive in Italy and Span than in say the UK and France...(well maybe I won't try to charge something for less than €2 or so say at a small ice cream stand). If you are from the USA (or another country where such things exist) use a credit card with no foreign transaction fee.

2. Supplement by withdrawing small amounts of cash from ATM's using an internet bank (again there are a good many in the USA although perhaps not as many elsewhere) which h issues an ATM card (preferably although a dbit card is okay if necessary). The advantage of using an internet bank (with no fees and no minimum balance requirements) is should the card get compromised, your main account where you probably pay some of your recurring bills is safe from the vermin who pull this kind of garbage. But I have done many one week or two week holidays where I made a €20 or £20 withdrawal to start the trip and hardly spent any cash at all. No worries about exchange rates and whatever; you get the exact interbank rate.

To me, and I know others disagree, this is the only way to travel in the 21st century (remember Karl Malden and travelers cheques. Do they exist anymore?)

2.
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Old May 24th, 2013, 06:01 AM
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I agree with xyz in general, but I would put the limit for credit card transactions higher, and note that you will need cash for markets, usually for taxis if you take them, and for less-visited countries. You may also encounter a surcharge for using a credit card, although that is more common in Asia.

If you're paying by credit card be alert for the dynamic currency conversion scam, when you card is charged in your home currency instead of the local currency, at a bad-for-you exchange rate.
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Old May 24th, 2013, 07:14 AM
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FHurdle - you've made a good case for me to move money to WF . . . ;-).
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Old May 24th, 2013, 07:18 AM
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Yeah, Cap One needs to be fully informed ahead of time. The pluses of Cap One cards are the low-to-no forex fees, whatever manner of rewards they offer, and EXCELLENT customer service if you need to contest a charge (easy to wipe one off if you get screwed, contrast to . . . every other bloody issuer).

Cap One is also hyper as a Jack Russell terrier about fraud (this is good for keeping cardholder costs low), thus its vigilance needs to be offset before you travel abroad.
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Old May 24th, 2013, 07:44 AM
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Doug Stallings, excellent idea about credit cards and debit/ATM cards, I found it to work well for me too. Southern Africa: for those that want to visit SA, feel free to ask questions I lived there for 45 years I might be able to give some info.
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Old May 24th, 2013, 11:24 AM
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A quick point about Capital One. I have no problems with them and for years used their cc's because of the no foreign transaction fee thing which they pushed hard to help build up their card base.

However, even though they pushed hard on the no foreign transaction fee thing, Cap One has been adamant about not issuing cards with emv chips which are discussed at length elsewhere. While not, at present, a big problem the problem is growing.

I would opt in this day and age for the Bank of America travel rewards card; no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee and it does have an emv chip although it is chip and signature rather than chip and pin or a credit card issued by one of these fcu's : Andrews FCU 9the air base), SDFCU (State Department not San Diego) or Pen Fed (for Pentagon not Pennsylvania) FCU all of whom offer credit cards with emv chips which will work at unpersonneled kiosks no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

Capital One's reaction when I called to ask when to expect a card from them with an emv chip was that all merchants are required to take any valid mc (or visa) and can process all types of cards and there is no need for an emv chip. Try telling that to a French gas pump on a Sunday afternoon in some rural area of France. I wonder what the response would be!
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Old May 24th, 2013, 11:53 AM
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I'm in the minority with FHurdle and am a long-time WF customer. Next month I need to pay my €1000 apartment rental immediately upon arrival in addition to €100 for the driver from Naples to Positano. I will, therefore, get at least €1200 from WF before leaving, since I don't want to be struggling with the ATMs at the Naples airport. But that is just my personal preference - I will pay a little for peace of mind.
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Old May 24th, 2013, 11:54 AM
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Do gas pumps give the Gallic shrug?
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Old May 24th, 2013, 12:21 PM
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Charles Schwab offers a checking account that has an attached ATM card. They do not charge foreign transaction fees and even reimburse you on the next month's statement for any fees the originating ATM bank charges. Capital One Visa does not charge a foreign conversion fee either. Hopes this helps
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Old May 24th, 2013, 12:24 PM
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The first time we went to Paris the ATM people (who put the money in the machines) were on strike. So, I always get some foreign currency from my bank before traveling. Kind of hard to get a cab when you have no funds!
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