In the past it has been recommended to get our euros at the airport upon arrival. Any idea if this is the best way to do it in Belgium?
Most airports have ATMs, and this is a great way to get your cash money. One caveat – – make sure that the ATM is Bank affiliated, rather than privately operated. The privately operated ATMs charge a fee to access the ATM, which bank owned ATMs generally don’t.
I always get local cash from a bank ATM when I arrive typically from a bank that has a relationship with my bank in the US so I save on fees. I almost never go to an airport ATM unless it is actually a bank ATM and not Travelex.
I like to have at least some currency on hand when I arrive, whether that's from a previous trip, friends who have recently traveled, or from my bank at home. Just enough to cover taxi or public transportation to where I'm staying, maybe a meal and whatever sundries I might need. Then the next day, I seek out a bank-affiliated ATM near my hotel, and take out the max I can, and repeat as necessary.
Here's a quote from another forum participant back in 2018 .
"Look on the back of your ATM card. It should show symbols for several interconnected ATM systems. Almost all banks participate in these systems.
Examples are Plus, Interlink, Cirrus, Star, Co-op (if it is a credit union). That means your bank participates with other banks within that system, and you can use their ATMs."
Then look at the ATM and see if their machine has one of these systems on it's display. If so you're good.
I have debit cards from 2 different credit Unions and haven't had much trouble finding ATMs in Europe that can support one or both. One has Plus and Co-op and the other just Co-op.
Check with your bank or credit union to see what if any fees they charge for international transactions. Same with your credit cards.
Edited: I got mine from Europabank Bank by the butcher’s hall. I thought it was a Bank of America partner bank in Ghent, but was mistaken. When I returned I contacted BoA and it credited any fees to my account. Any atm should give you a better deal than a currency exchange booth.
Standard DCC Warning: If the ATM asks if want to proceed with the trans actions in Dollars or your home currency, or tells you what the transaction will cost in your local currency, decline the conversion and choose to do the transaction in euros, or find another ATM.
You will have run into Direct Currency Conversion. Basically the ATM operator is offering to do the currency exchange for you, no need, the card processor does this for fractions of a cent, the ATM owner will charge you several percent, maybe up to 10%.
The same can happen with credit card transactions at restaurants, hotels, wherever.
By the way, do get some euros to have, but credit cards, especially with the pandemic, are used more and more. I get 200 euro at the beginning of the trip, and that usually lasts me the trip, in the old days, that was about one days worth of cash.
There are many different opinions about this subject. Many people do get Euros from an ATM upon arrival, and it is the least expensive way to get local currency. However, many others think it is better to have some Euros in hand before arrival. There is the inconvenience of having to find a machine, the stress of hoping it works (they do occasionally malfunction), and doing it all while somewhat jet lagged. For those reasons many of us get two or three hundred Euros from our local bank before leaving. It will cost a little more, but the extra amount it cost to have money in hand when arriving is money well spent, and the extra cost relative to the overall cost of the trip is not that much.
In any case, be sure to notify your bank and credit card companies that you will be traveling. Otherwise they may see a foreign transaction, suspect fraud, and shut down access to your cards.
I got mine from Bank of America’s partner bank in Ghent, but any atm should give you a better deal than a currency exchange booth.
Which bank in Ghent is a BoA partner? Thanks!
@Continental - Here's a link to BOA's international partners. It lists BNP Paribas for France and long ago and far away a RS guide told me that they and Deutsche Bank were the best places to get cash from without a fee. I do see some locations of DB in Gent.
Thanks Pam. I definitely know about Deutsche Bank & BNP Paribas for Germany and France respectively. What I don’t know is about Belgian banks so thank you for the link!
Please be aware that the Deutsche Bank locations in Belgium are just small agencies. DB does not operate ATM’s in Belgium.
IIRC (4 years ago), there are ATMs in the Post Offices, we hit one near St Bavo’s as we we staying across from it. It was a couple blocks away, I believe it would be Lange Kruisstraat 55. No issues, no fees charged, and it may not even have attempted DCC. Our Schwab card was not a problem with it.