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Dollards to Euro Exchange

What is the best way to exchange Dollars to Euro in the USA or at Spain.? Which is the better rate?
I'm traveling to spain next week and will like to exchange dollars to Euro in case I need cash there but here bank is charging a fee.



Posted by
8068 posts

You'll do better to withdraw Euro from an ATM in Spain using your debit card.

You'll need to notify your bank you'll be using it internationally and you'll want to check to see what the charges are. My credit union charges 1% on a withdrawal but some banks charge more than that and add a service fee.

You won't get as good a rate trying to exchange cash.

Posted by
468 posts

The best way is to withdraw money from an ATM outside of a bank in Spain in case the machine eats you card. I like taking a small amount in Euros before I land to make it easier on me (usually $100). Anywhere you go here in the US you will get hit with a fee. Check if your bank has agreements with banks in Spain to not charge you a fee. BofA has it with Deutsche Bank.

Posted by
2525 posts

Broken record here, but it needs the Travel Forum for suggested debit/ATM cards that have no foreign transaction fees and no other fees. The bank behind my card also rebates any fees whether in the US or around the world. There is a spread between the Interbank rate and the ATM withdrawal rate....even for a no foreign transaction fee debit/ATM card. That spread for VISA is now is about $1.16 USD per euro for the Interbank rate and about $1.17 USD actual withdrawal rate if your card has no foreign transaction fees.

Posted by
5578 posts

To follow up on Nestor's comment -- if you can go INSIDE a bank and use an ATM in the lobby, then if there is any problem you will have bank employees nearby to resolve the problem. Not usually necessary, but it's comforting to have that kind of backup if you are new to using an ATM in a foreign country. (Make sure you put your cash and debit card safely away before you leave the lobby.)

Posted by
21032 posts

As statement nearly daily, the cheapest and most convenient way to obtain local currency is via a debit card at a bank owned ATM in the country --- bar none. Anything exchange in the US will cost you around 10%. However, if necessary, I will get a hundred dollars equivalent in local currency from my bank or airport currency exchange prior to departure as I like have a few dollars in my pocket on landing.

Posted by
2184 posts

Another broken record here. As has been mentioned here so many times, one does not "exchange" dollars for Euro (or other currency). It is not an exchange, it is the sale of the other currency which you are allowed to pay dollars for, and as the purchased currency is a sale item, it will cost you a hefty premium.

You need to withdraw money from your own bank account, which will come from the machine in the local currency, and at the interbank exchange rate, with maybe a 1/2 percent markup. Cards from CapOne and Schwab, and various credit unions, will not charge you any additional fee at your end for the privilege of accessing your money

Posted by
3493 posts

Your time is really short, so suggestions of getting a new account may not be practical right now. Something that is practical is for you to thoroughly read the money tips linked here. They include what others have said and more. Pay particular attention to the info on DCC, Dynamic Currency Conversion. It may sound good, but don't fall for it.

Posted by
996 posts

In the event you do not have an ATM card, you can still do the following -

-- Buy Euros at your bank NOW (it may take 2-3 days for your bank to obtain the Euros, depending on the city in which you live). Yes, you will have to pay a fee, but the fee may be low enough to offset the issues to obtain cash in Spain. Ask at the bank if the fee changes depending on the amount of Euro's purchased.

-- Verify that your credit card can be used in Europe. Be sure to call your credit card provider before you leave and let them know your travel dates and destination. If you don't, your card may be frozen while you're overseas for unusual activity.

Have a wonderful adventure! :-)

Posted by
607 posts

It is always more convenient to land with local currency already in your pocket.

Just google "currency exchange" for your home city and do a bit of research. Just compare the rates (and commission, if any) by the money changer to the interbank rate found on the internet. Of course, if you go to an exchange at your airport or near a local tourist attraction, you will probably get a lousy rate or be hit with high fees (whether at home or at your destination). However, you may find a competitive local exchange that has a better rate than your bank. If you are ever in Vancouver, VBCE has the best rates. I have done comparisons and found that the VBCE rates were as good and often better than the overseas atm rate (Remember that banks also make money on the buy-sell differential). If the only factor was getting the best rate, i would convert all my trip spending money with VBCE before i travel. Of course, the other important factor is safety, so i only convert enough cash that i am comfortable carrying (or losing) at any one time. So once I am abroad, i will use atm's to top up my cash reserves.

All you have to do is shop and compare to get the best rate, whether at home or abroad:

Posted by
21032 posts

...... found that the VBCE rates were as good and often better than the overseas atm rate ..... I am sorry but that statement simply cannot be true. If VBCE is selling money at or below the Interbank rate, I want in on the deal. Your ATM exchange rate in Europe via one of the networks will always be less than 1% higher than the interbank rate at that time. You simply cannot get any cheaper than that.

Posted by
17899 posts

I can't quite agree with Frank. Although VBCE might be selling euro at less than the price from US banks at ATMs in Europe, from what I saw on their website, it is still over the Interbank rate. As far as I can see (correct me, please, if this is not true), they are selling euro for Canadian dollars, so you still have to convert US dollars to Canadian dollars and then Canadian dollars to euro, and that is probably not very cost effective.

Posted by
607 posts

Here are the exchange rates for 1 EURO as at September 19, 2018 at 9:30 AM:

YAHOO: CAD$1.512 CAD$1.5166
VBCE: CAD$1.5354 (posted online rate to buy Euro which is the same as their street rate.)
Bank of Montreal: CAD$1.577 (price to buy Euro from my bank branch)
European ATM: I can't be in two places at one time to compare today. All i can say is that during my last trip when i withdrew money from Italian atm and compared that rate with the VBCE posted rate, there was no advantage and often the particular ATM exchange rate was worse than the posted VBCE rate. It seems to me that it is somewhat unpredictable what rate is applied between any particular foreign bank ATM (can you honestly say that all foreign banks are the same?), my particular Canadian bank and me, the customer. And note that I do not even see the atm exchange rate until I get home and get my bank statement so i can compare with the online vbce rate i recorded on the day i made the atm withdrawal.

As you can see from above, it would cost more for me to buy Euros from my bank branch. I had asked my bank rep how much it would cost me to get €1,000 and i was quoted CAD$1,577. In my experience, if I bought a large amount like €1,000 from VBCE, there might be a further small discount from the posted rate.

I have no idea where OP lives. I am not advising her, or any American, to fly to Vancouver to buy Euros. I am just suggesting that she do some research for her hometown to see if she can find a convenient local place to buy euros at a reasonable rate before she boards the plane. Much better than having to drag luggage after landing looking for an ATM while jet lagged.

Posted by
3453 posts

Unless you are accepting DCC on your foreign transaction, YES, I can definitively say that the rate you should be charged from every foreign ATM for the same currency is always the same during the same settlement day. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and even Discover all set the rate they will use for a specific business day at the beginning of that day. It is the same for every transaction settled on that day. The local bank has no input on what that rate will be -- none. Neither does your card issuing bank. The final rate on your statement might be a different rate if the settlement happens a day or two later. Not every ATM is balanced and settled every day.

In the US (I know Canada is different), the transaction must be shown on your bank statement as billed from the card network and any fees or additional charges including foreign exchange adjustments must be shown as a separate line. Ignoring the fees, every ATM transaction will reflect the XE rate. If the separation is not required in Canada, the amount shown on your statement may be a single figure which includes any exchange or other fees giving the impression that the rate is not what it should be.

And yes, a US citizen flying to Vancouver to buy Euro would probably not be an economically efficient proposition. Especially if they have to get Canadian Dollars first to get that rate on Euro.

I am not doubting you get a better rate on cash exchange at VBCE than other locations, I am just doubting it is better than the actual rate at an ATM (ignoring fees and adjustments your bank charges).

Posted by
607 posts

EDIT: Lee, after re-checking, VBCE exchanges in either CAD or USD. However, if you bring rupees and want to change to Euros, you have to change the rupees to CAD or USD first before changing to Euros.

Posted by
607 posts


It is possible that differences in rates can be explained by different settlement dates. I only withdrew atm money about 4 times so my sample comparison size is small. Nevertheless the differences btween VBCE and atm is so small that i have no problem recommending VBCE for the convenience of exchanging for currency before going on a trip. Using the rates above, if i bought €100 at VBCE, it would only cost me about $1.90 or about 1.5% over the XE rate.

So what is the foreign ATM rate? Is it exactly the XE rate or XE rate plus __%? And is the "interbank" rate the same thing as the XE rate or XE plus __%?

And as a side note, can you explain this? I cross the border into Point Roberts WA to buy US gas. I use my Cdn credit card. I use one pump to pump gas into my car. At about the same time, i use a different pump to pump gas into my spare gas cans. The two transactions are within minutes of each other. Yet when i get my credit card statement, the exchange rates are always slightly different.

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks to everyone for all the good suggestions, it really helped me to understand how it works!