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Euros

At the end of a European trip, my Aer Lingus flight home was overbooked and I was offered 600 Euros to take another flight. Seemed like a good idea. They wrote me a check on the spot.

My problem is that my credit union won't let me deposit a check in foreign currency. What the heck!

Are there any solutions besides a) opening an account in a major US bank just to cash the check, or b) making a paper airplane with the check?

Has anyone else had this problem?

Second question: I also ended up with 160 Euros cash in hand and am having a heck of a time getting it changed back into dollars without losing a big chunk of it to commissions (again, my credit union "doesn't handle foreign money"--maybe it's time to change credit unions...).

Advice welcome.

Posted by
6387 posts

Save the euros for another trip or give them to someone else
Now I know I would ask for cash in that situation.

Posted by
1400 posts

You don’t have any relatives who use a major bank or maybe someone you know who works for a foreign bank who could deposit it and give you the cash?

Posted by
11389 posts

Not sure why you would stay with your credit union instead of a decent bank - I can’t understand them not cashing a cheque for you .

Wondering if you could sign check over to a friend at a normal bank and they could cash it and give you the money ? I

Posted by
900 posts

I don’t have a suggestion about your check, but about your cash — presuming you are unwilling to keep it until your next Europe trip, why don’t you ask around among your friends to see if one of them has an upcoming trip and would buy them from you? If you live in a city with a RS travel group, the odds are good that you could find someone there.

Posted by
1042 posts

I really agree that if your bank can't help you it's probably time to change to a bank that will. Regarding the cash, keep it for a future trip sounds like a good idea. Otherwise, you can send it to me :-)

Posted by
1451 posts

Monty, time to find a new credit Union.

Is there a TDBank near you? They offer a simply checking/savings accounts where a deposit is minimal and the fees are zero if you keep a daily $100 balance starting at midnight. It can be good for your 'travel account' (as suggested below) *

The bigger branches deal with a lot of Euro and other currency. You could see if they would accept the 'foreign' check as a deposit. You will lose some on the exchange rate though. *

As far as your exchanging Euros besides the obvious of keeping it for your next trip, you could ask TD Bank to buy it back although there is a fee for a non-customer.

The fee and the daily exchange for that amount of money would not be advantageous to you anyway.

Or, as someone else suggested, see if a family member or a friend or even a close coworker traveling soon would buy them from you.

*added

Posted by
2575 posts

Clearly banking is different either side of the border, but having an account in a regular bank may offer the advantage of having a second source of funds on the road if first source becomes compromised. It might also mean easier access to requesting a second credit card....say a Master Card if you already have a Visa. If you credit union works for you every other way, why change it? But if you travel often, having a second financial institution used for travel only doesn't hurt. Maybe use it as your travel savings account?

Posted by
3118 posts

Two suggestions:

Ask Are Lingus to reissue the check to you in USD. They operate in the US, they might be willing to do that.

Open an account somewhere that does handle foreign money and let them handle it. Unfortunately, no matter how you exchange foreign currency you will be hit with fees or bad exchange rates or both.

Even if you have an account at a bank that handles foreign money, you can't just deposit or cash the check. It will go through a process called collections (not the one most people think of when they hear that term) where the check is sent through a manual process outside the normal check clearing route. You will get the amount they settle for deposited into your account. It can take up to a month depending on the paying bank. You will loose chunk of the value and probably pay a fee.

Posted by
433 posts

I have been a member of my credit union for forty years and I know the staff and their children on a first name basis. I have never expected this little operation to offer currency exchange services on the premises any more than I expect them to offer gold and silver sales. However, they do offer affiliate connections to a long list of other financial services. The exchange rate may not be the best available but, if i need to, i can use the CU’s membership to gain access.

Posted by
145 posts

I love my credit union (maybe that should be past tense), but had no idea of their limitations. They are great when it comes to checking and savings and car loans, but apparently can't do anything outside of that box. I really don't want 2 different banks, but that may be the solution. I don't travel to Europe often enough to hang on to the cash, so am trying to find a friend who might be traveling. (Anybody out there live in Portland, Oregon and leaving for Europe this week?) That doesn't solve the check problem...and I'm already dealing with trying to get Aer Lingus to refund what we paid for seats with extra leg room (which they had given to someone else when we checked in).

Thank you all for your advice. I will pursue multiple options.

But a caution to those as new to 21st century travel as I am: Don't bring your Euros home.

Also, find another airline besides Aer Lingus. This whole thing started with them over-selling the flight by 17 seats...

Posted by
3317 posts

Hi Monty, here's info for the next RS Travel Group meeting in your local area TOMORROW! Someone at that meeting should be happy to exchange the Euros with you. They probably can give you advice for a local bank, too.

"We will meet at Panera Bread in Tualatin at 10 a.m. this upcoming Saturday, July 27th. Hope to see you there!" - Posted by Patricia (Milwaukie, Oregon)

Posted by
7539 posts

I bring euros home from each trip so I will have cash to begin my next trip. If you think you will never go back to Europe, maybe you know someone who would buy your euros from you? No foreign transaction fees would be paid doing it that way. There's a Travel Group in your area. Maybe someone from the group would be happy to buy the euros from you.

I agree with the suggestion to have Aer Lingus reissue the check in dollars.

Edit - Jean and I must have been posting at the same time. Great minds... :-)

Posted by
145 posts

I'd like to contact this Portland group because I can't make it to that meeting on Saturday. I'm not an expert at this Forum; can you tell me how to respond to them?
Monty

Posted by
70 posts

Sorry Monty, this doesn’t help you but perhaps others... I always pay my last hotel bill with my remaining euros and remainder on credit card.

Posted by
5448 posts

A good problem to have. Better than having to pay in Euros. You may need to find a full service bank. Eg https://www.wellsfargo.com/biz/help/faqs/international/

Sending and Receiving International Payments

Can Wells Fargo accept foreign checks for deposit?

Wells Fargo accepts deposits of checks denominated in many foreign
currencies. With our Global Check Clearing service, foreign check
deposits can be prepared in your office and mailed to our processing
centers. For more information, contact 1-877-593-2468.

Posted by
12 posts

I would NOT recommend endorsing the check to a friend. Banks are VERY reluctant to accept any third party check--especially a third party check from a foreign country.

I do have a separate banking (atm/credit card) relationship with a major bank that is used exclusively for travel. I appreciate its ease of use and no foreign fees. And the account was opened very easily online.

I haven't needed to change euros into dollars. Somehow my spouse is able to exchange leftover Euros into gifts for grandkids prior to our arrival back to the US.

I'd recommend trying to attend the Portland RS Travel Group meeting, exchanging the Euros for USD and buying coffee for those attending Think of the new friends you'll make!

Good luck.

Posted by
2575 posts

Travelex Currency Exchange has 2 offices in Portland and will buy back EURO. Maybe they would also except the cheque (slim chance, but worth the question). But as you say, there are fees.
Only you can decide cost of your time vs the cost of opening an account, or using an exchange bureau.
As well as the suggestion that in the future you spend your foreign currency before coming home, also check in for your flights 23 hrs and 59 minutes prior to departure. Never wait to check in until you arrive at the airport. If you did check in on line prior and they still sold your seats, then yes, Aer Lingus is a problem. But if you didn't check in until arrival at airport, my advise stands...for any flight. Any checked luggage fees are also cheaper if you identify and pay them before arrival at the airport.

Posted by
2903 posts

I don't think you need to necessarily open an account to cash a check at a bank. I'd call ahead and find the closest bank that will cash your check for you without needing to have an account. Expect to pay for this service. On the other hand, it was 600 free euros so if you are left with a little less value than that, you are still ahead.

Posted by
3118 posts

Banks in the US will only cash checks for you if they are drawn on a US bank and in USD and you have an account with them or the check is from an account they own.

No bank will simply cash a foreign check even if you have an account.

They have to have recourse to recover the funds if the check ends up being bad. If they willy nilly cash checks for anyone who walks in how are they going to get the money back if the check is bad? I know no one here would purposely cash a bad check, but there are lots of people out in the real world who would never hesitate to do so.

Posted by
6691 posts

They issued you a check so you wouldn’t file an EU 261 claim and increase their bad-service statistics. But they issued you a check that is useless for you. You need to tell them that you want your compensation in dollars or you will have to file an EU 261 claim. If they don’t compensate in dollars, file with the Irish enforcement office and include the info on the useless check. You are entitled by law to 600€ for being bumped. You may be entitled to more due to this fiasco. Here’s the link to the Irish office to which you file for compensation. https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/2004_261_national_enforcement_bodies.pdf

By writing you a check in euros, they put the burden on you and played you. You shouldn’t have to open a different bank account.

Posted by
145 posts

Update
First, thank you all for your input. At this time, I am still floundering.

Spent 3 days visiting and calling Oregon banks, (Umpqua Bank, Key Bank, US Bank, Bank of America). Everyone was sympathetic but unhelpful. The best offer I got was from Bank of America: If I opened a savings account, they would try to process the check, but it would take 4-8 weeks and cost $45 (at their end; also possible fees at the Ireland bank). But US Bank wanted $85...

So I have gone back to square one: I contacted Aer Lingus and asked them to either re-issue me a check in US dollars or credit my card. Their automated system promised to get back to me quickly (within 14 business days...). I am trying to stay hopeful.

In the meantime, if anyone in Europe offers you a check in Euros for anything, I recommend you DON'T TAKE IT.

I'll get back to you on whether you should ever fly Aer Lingus...

P.S. Found a neighbor with a daughter in Berlin who bought my cash Euros from me. At least THAT worked out fine.

Posted by
145 posts

Bets,
THANK you for the useful leverage. If Aer Lingus doesn't respond quickly and with cash in hand, I will definitely report them for bad business practices.

Posted by
8889 posts

I don't see how this was bad business practices. They paid you in Ireland, in the currency of Ireland using the normal payment method in Ireland. You accepted this, they were not to know whether you had an account in Ireland or not.

In the meantime, if anyone in Europe offers you a check in Euros for anything, I recommend you DON'T TAKE IT.

The problem is you did not know your bank was incapable of cashing this cheque.
You could have, at the time, asked for a different payment method or currency, but they may not have been able to do that at that time. That would amount to turning down their "offered 600 Euros to take another flight."

Posted by
3118 posts

Carol, Refering to monty's post right after yours, I stand by my earlier statements: US banks will not simply cash a foreign check. Especially for someone who does not have an account with them. Some of the larger banks will process a foreign check, for a fee as monty indicated, if you have an account.

You can find all types of articles on the internet about how people think banks should work (and maybe they really should work that way). I have worked for banks most of my carreers, I know how they actually work. Banks are too afraid of loss to do anything for you unless they can guarantee recovery of the funds involved if something goes wrong.

Posted by
3118 posts

monty, If you can't get the check issued in USD, I would take the Bank of America offer. It is the best you will find. After all, you are coming out ahead no matter what you end up with on this since it was not a refund of money you paid.

Posted by
145 posts

Mark,
I will probably take the BofA offer if I can't get anything from Aer Lingus.

Chris,
I think "bad business" would be if they say "too bad for you" to my request. They had my passport so they knew I was an American; I assume they at least had an inkling that a check in Euros would be difficult to cash. But even if they didn't, they should make good now. I think "good business" should include "good customer service." I took their offer of 600 Euros not because it sounded like a great deal but because I didn't really have a choice: they'd over-booked the flight and given our (paid for) extra leg room to another passenger. 600 Euros seemed like a fair recompense for asking me to take 18 hours and 2 flights without extra leg room to get home, rather than the 7-hour, non-stop, extra leg room I had paid for. But maybe it's naive to assume that any business actually cares about the customers once they've cashed our checks? Sorry if I sound a little crabby, but this has been a pretty unpleasant end to a pretty nice vacation. If Aer Lingus tells me to lump it, I certainly would never fly with them again.

Posted by
2388 posts

Mark is correct from my experience:

US banks will not simply cash a foreign check. Especially for someone who does not have an account with them. Some of the larger banks will process a foreign check, for a fee as monty indicated, if you have an account.

My daughter would send European checks to me (less costly than money transfers bank to bank) quarterly to pay a small college loan that she had in the US. It generally took 30 days between the bank's receipt and the bank's deposit into her account. If I recall it goes to the FED (but don't hold me to that) and then back to the bank at what they deemed was the proper exchange rate on a particular day. Her account was at a bank in the US that worked with foreign currency, fortunately, as mine did/does not (credit union). Just set up a free checking account at another bank that deals with foreign currency exchange. You can close it later.

Posted by
145 posts

In case anybody wants to know how the story ended...

It took nearly 6 weeks, lots of emails with forms and attached documents, and one angry letter, but Aer Lingus finally re-issued me a check in US dollars. (My son's Euro check did clear his bank--but it also took 6 weeks and he paid a $65 fee). I should have known how to do this right from the beginning, but I am not a frequent international traveler so it never occurred to me. For any other neophytes out there, I suggest you don't come home with Euros--whether in cash or check form--unless you know what you are doing.

Thanks to those who replied with sympathy and helpful suggestions.

Posted by
3118 posts

monty, congratulations! Thanks for the follow up. I'm sure you are glad this experience is over