Where to exchange money?

Old Jul 28th, 2003, 10:09 AM
  #21  
 
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Elaine, that's a pretty good list of reasons! My solution is to retain between 100 and 150 Euros at the end of each trip to "seed" the next one. I leave it with my passport and I consider it a little promise that I make to myself to go back soon.
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Old Jul 28th, 2003, 10:16 AM
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Jon: you worry about being robbed and forced to withdraw fund with your ATM card. Simple answer, what I do is not carry my ATM card with me at all times. I only carry the card when I want to use it. Overseas I keep it with my passport.
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Old Jul 28th, 2003, 10:25 AM
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Believe it or not, but sometimes airport ATMs are unavailable or out of order. It has happened to me several times in various airports, including major and minor ones. If that does happen, you may then have to wait in line to exchange money or TCs (although a lot of people say they don't carry them anymore, but I always do). It's not the end of the world, just takes some time, but some prefer not to do that. I will admit twice I've had problems with neither one being available (in Paris and at Quebec City) when I landed. This is not the norm, of course. I don't get some ahead any more if I am going to land in the morning at a major airport.

I carry TCs and find them useful myself, so I am not one of those who recommend you never carry them. I can tell you exactly where to go in Paris to get rates on TCs about same as ATM card.

Last month I repeatedly got exchange rates in Paris for TCs on 2.2 pct below the current interbank rate--there was absolutely no fee on top of that rate difference. That is better than some CCs, and the same as when I use my ATM card to get about $100 as I have a $2 fee. Paris has very competitive currency exchange services.

London maybe not so much, but they aren't terrible as I noticed them when I was there last year. People who complain about TCs usually try to use them to pay directly, take them in euro and thus pay a bad exchange rate upon getting them in the US and then are surprised they have to pay to cash them in Europe even when they are in euro, OR exchange them at the biggest ripoff tourist location (ie, Montmartre).

IN any case, I can't imagine not having an ATM card for daily living, but the AAA fixed credit card someone is referring you to above is a possible idea. However, the one I'd suggest is not a fixed limit credit card, they have an ATM card (VISA Travelmoney or something like that) you can buy yourself at whatever amount you want to buy (I think $300 is the minimum). YOu can then use it at any ATM to withdraw your prepaid cash (supposedly without any fees, at least for a certain number of transactions). That's a good idea for you.
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Old Jul 28th, 2003, 11:26 AM
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Everyone has their own method & personal quirks (whether you feel the need to arrive with some foreign currency in hand or not, etc.).

If you feel strongly about not using an ATM card, then I guess you carry some US cash to exchange at a money window in the airport when you arrive. And use travelers checks, but plan to go into a normal bank not expect to spend them directly at businesses (as many do not accept them).

Jon, To answer your original question, the BEST exchange rate, is using an ATM card with a 4-digit pin tied to your home checking account. My daily withdrawl limit is $300USD imposed by my own bank (and a $2 fee per international transaction). So no one's going to wipe out your bank account in a "stick-up".

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