We travel to Europe annually. In the past when using a credit card and the clerk asks if we want the charge in dollars or euros I've said euros, which from past advice is the better way to go. That was when the euro was strong but now with the dollar so strong, is it better to ask that the charge be made in euros. Or, is it a wash?
Avoid dynamic currency conversion (DCC).
Some European merchants — capitalizing on the fact that many Americans are intimidated by unusual currencies — cheerfully charge you for converting their prices to dollars before running your credit card. Dynamic currency conversion may seem like a nice perk, but you’ll actually end up paying more. The dollar price is usually based on a lousy exchange rate set by the merchant — and to make matters worse, even though you’re paying in “dollars,” your credit-card issuer may still levy its standard foreign-transaction fee. The result: the “convenience” of seeing your charge in dollars comes at a premium.
Some merchants may disagree, but according to DCC provider Planet Payment, you have the right to decline this service at the store and have your credit-card transaction go through in the local currency. If you’re handed a receipt with two totals — one in the local currency and the other in US dollars — circle or check the amount in the local currency before you sign. If your receipt shows the total in dollars only, ask that it be rung up again in the local currency.
Independent ATMs may also try to confuse customers by presenting DCC in misleading terms. If an ATM offers to “lock in” or “guarantee” your conversion rate, choose “proceed without conversion.” Other prompts might say “You can be charged in dollars: Press YES for dollars, NO for euros.” Always choose the local currency in these situations.
Exchange rate is irrelevant to this decision. The rate they give you will always be unfavorable compared to the rate your cc company will give. Its how they make money.
It doesn't matter if the dollar (or Euro) is weak or strong, DCC is still a rip off. If you accept DCC, you will still get whatever exchange rate the retailer and their bank choose (both taking a cut), plus your bank still charges you for a foreign transaction.
"Just say no", if the menu or bill is in Euros, that is what you pay. If they refuse to charge you in Euros, just pay cash.
It is still the best advice!!!!! Always charge in local currency!!! Pay in local currency!!
Better yet, always pay in local currency (cash). Accommodations that take credit cards are the ones that charge enough extra to pay the credit card's commission. In Germany, at least, you'll save by staying in small places, and those places don't take credit cards.
In Germany, any hotel that wants to have more than 1 star has to take credit cards. As a result, there are a plethora of nice places in Germany with no star rating (why bother with stars if the most you can get is one?).
As a current visitor to Europe, I agree with the previous posters.
You (should) know what rate your bank will charge for currency conversion. You don't know what rate a merchant will charge you. It could be the percentage rate your bank charges plus an extra percentage for the business.
I pay for everything in euros even though the places I am visiting will gladly accept the USD. Right now a euro = ninety-four cents ($.94).
Although $1 = 1,04€ in the States, the inverse is true in Europe. Right now in Europe
USD/EUR for the 24-hour period ending Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 22:00 UTC @ +/- 0%
Selling 1.00000 USD you get 0.93196 EUR
Buying 1.00000 USD you pay 0.93211 EUR
EUR/USD for the 24-hour period ending Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 22:00 UTC @ +/- 0%
Selling 1.00000 EUR you get 1.07283 USD
Buying 1.00000 EUR you pay 1.07301 USD
@ +/- 0% is essential Interbank rate, no mark up/down. I.e. wholesale.
We also travel to Europe ever summer for about a month for 12 of the last 13 years and I can count on one hand the number of times we have used a credit card. We prefer to pay cash for everything except for a couple of times when we ended up in a hotel with a big bill. We also used a CC to pay for a rug in Turkey. We have never had a problem getting local currency from ATMs using a debit card tied to a checking account at a local credit union in the US. Sometimes we have to get cash over a couple of days to pay for larger bills, like B&Bs.