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Traveling to Europe in April. Change $$ to Euros now to get better exchange rate?

I will be traveling to Europe in early April 2015. The Euro to Dollar exchange rate has been falling lately (it's January now), and it's about $1.12 to 1 Euro right now. Should I assume this exchange rate will either stay like this or fall and just withdraw euros from an ATM when I travel?
Or should I keep an eye on the exchange rate and get some euros at this exchange rate since it's is so low (it's fallen from $1.40 in the last 9 months).
I guess I'm asking what people think about whether the euro will recover against the dollar significantly before April...

Posted by
2045 posts

This has been answered here many times. What you want to do is find out if you should be trading in currency.

It's a short time to April, the trend is down, and it would really have to jump in price to make up for the 6-7% (or more) that it will cost you to buy Euros here.

Posted by
3320 posts

It almost always cost more to get Euros in the US than in Europe proper. Why not get $100 or 200 here now so you will have some on hand when you get there. Then get additional funds from an ATM once in Europe and get the best rate at that time. Might be wrong, but I really do not think the Euro is going to take a big jump against the dollar between now and April. TC

Posted by
4500 posts

Most experts are predicting that the dollar will continue to gain and might reach 1:1 parity by spring. But anything can happen. The others have it right; don't buy now as the rate may continue to fall and the euro you buy now will lose value (as much as 10-12% possible). And even if the rate climbs again, it'll need to climb more than 6-10% for you not to lose money due to the cost of buying currency in the US (see Colette's numbers).

You can always buy a $100 worth just before you leave to have cash on hand on arrival. Otherwise, use the ATM (where you'll get the actual current interbank rate plus whatever fees your own bank charges you - usually no more than 4%).

The good news is that you should have a very good exchange rate in April during your trip!

Posted by
574 posts

If you want to be a currency speculator, a better way to do it is estimate how many Euro's you want to cover and then buy an ETF such as FXE which says "The Shares are intended to provide institutional and retail investors with a simple, cost-effective means of gaining investment benefits similar to those of holding euro." If the dollar falls vs the Euro (the fear you have) then the gains you make in the fund will offset the unfavorable exchange rate you get when you are in Europe (compared to todays rate).

Doing it this way also allows you to protect Euros for expenses that you will pay with a credit card, such as hotels, unless you were thinking of buying $4,000 worth or Euros or something and bringing them with you. And the ETF is much cheaper. If your estimated expenses are $4,000 then your protection if you buy cash now will cost you $200-400 depending on the bank rate markup. You can buy and sell an ETF for around $50 total.

Posted by
3460 posts

Wait a week, it's supposed to drop to 1.06 by next wed. Seriously, if you want to buy a few hundred,
do it before you leave. Purchase the rest at ATM there.

Posted by
6543 posts

Ah, just wait until you arrive in your airport to obtain Euros. Your local bank will rip you on the exchange rate and service charges.

Be sure to use an ATM machine that belongs to a bank.

Posted by
507 posts

Is the bank really ripping you off if you buy $100 in Euros from the bank before you leave? Let's do the math.

Today the Euro was running at 1€ =$1.12. Every bank is going to add a fee to make a profit. Wells Fargo charges $.06 per euro which brings the cost to $1.18 per euro.

The percentage you are paying in fees to Wells Fargo for any amount of euros is 5% (.06/1.18).

Unless there are undisclosed fees I was not informed of, is 5% a bad rate to pay a bank for a small amount of euros before you leave the States?

Consider you will be paying your bank (excluding credit unions) at least 3% of the dollar amount received as euros from a European ATM.

The 8 cents Chase charges is (today) 6% of your purchase. It pays to shop financial institutions for the lowest "tacked on" fees.

Posted by
507 posts

This past week the cost of a euro was settling at $1.13, so I told my banker Monday to go ahead & purchase $200 in euros for me. The currency was purchased Tuesday & delivered to the bank today. Bank of America tacked on $.06 to the $1.13 international bank rate & I paid $1.19/euro.
Edit: (15/02/15) There was a transaction fee involved in my payment, also, of $8.61. I will speak to my ML advisor about having that refunded.
3/14/15 My Merrill Lynch advisor returned the $7.50 Fed Ex fee to my account leaving the extra fee at 60 cents ( ? ).

Posted by
20 posts

BOA charged me $7.50 for a delivery fee, I called BOA customer service to complain about this, they were able to refund me this fee. I explained it wasn't communicated to me when I purchased the Euros.
I was also informed if you order less than $1000 this fee is charged otherwise it is normally waved.

Posted by
8889 posts

dkruz1,
"Is there a way to exchange dollars for euros anywhere without fees?" - One and one only. You exchange the money with a friend who is going / has gone in the opposite direction.
Banks are out to make money, and if they can charge a few % on a transaction they will, especially if they can hide it in the exchange rate.
And, handling foreign money does have a cost, each currency must be counted and bagged separately and sent by secure carrier.

P.S- This is one of the reasons they invented the Euro, to cut out the fluctuations and the %-age paid to the bank every time you bought or sold something from one country to another.

Posted by
24 posts

I have to say, I've never had a problem getting cash from an ATM wherever I landed -- there are plenty of them, and there's rarely even a small line. Is it really worth going to the trouble and expense of stocking up on Euros (or whatever) before leaving the States??

Posted by
5504 posts

Take away lesson of all the comments is that exchanging currency carries various cost from bid-ask spreads, transaction fees and in some cases delivery fees for currency. The bottom line cost for us North Americas is how many dollars did it take to get the specified amount of Euros, Pounds or Crowns.

But that said, you'd have to be pretty obsessive if you can remember the exact amount of a holiday trip or even the exchange rate to the penny or three of trips more than two years past, but I can certainly remember the joys and/or challenges of trips long past.

Posted by
507 posts

After reading on another thread that bank ATMs are disappearing from European airports, I ordered $200 of euros. The bank waived the delivery fee of $7.50. (DH & I will have chosen our seats on the tour bus while the rest of the group are using the ATMs.)

I did the calculations forthe cost of using Europe's ATMs using a fee of 3% a US bank (not SWAAB checking or a credit union) & compared it to the cost of purchasing euros in the States. I found the cost to be very similar. My calculations are on another thread.

In the States I was charged a 5% fee per euro. In Europe it would be about the same (3% US bank + ATM fee). Buying foreign currency is no different to me than when I purchased Travellers Checks.

Posted by
132 posts

We always arrive in Euro with us. It insures we have a bit of money "just in case". It gives us some comfort. Keep in mind the cost of 100 euros is small compared to the overall cost of the trip. If you feel comfortable with having no local currency upon arrival, then use an ATM when you arrive.

Posted by
20 posts

Has everyone noticed the euro is plunging? It is 1.0962 as of today per Oanda!

Posted by
1 posts

This may or may stay with thread but here i go. I plan on going to France later this year or next. Can I get a prepaid euro card now and save it till I go.

Posted by
507 posts

I have read about the prepaid cards, & it seems they carry several fees.

Buy your euros at the bank & put them in your sock drawer until you go. At Texas Currency Exchange yesterday I paid $1.11 per euro and a $3 fee.

Posted by
20632 posts

That is absolutely silly. It is a sucker play and you will lose. First, buying from the exchange is costing you at least 6% or a bit more depending on how the $3 fee factors in. Second, if you sit on the money for a year, then you lose another 2%. So that means the euro has to climb to something north of $1.14, $1.15. Just to breakeven. And you still have downside risk because some forecasts are for parity this year. No one is suggesting that the euro will jump back to the 1,20 - 1.30 range within the next year or so. Put your money to work somewhere else that is more predictable.

Posted by
93 posts

"We can't predict the future, nor can we change the past, all we can do is appreciate the present and live in the moment but plan for what may come." -- Anon.

Posted by
206 posts

I was at Wells Fargo today and asked them about withdrawing euros from an ATM in Europe and the overall cost. Because of the type of account I have, they said that the first two withdraws per month were free, then they would charge per transaction. They also said that there is a 5% transaction fee cost to withdrawing money. Currently, the euro is $1.06. She said that if you withdraw 100 euros from an ATM in Paris, your account is debited $111, not $106. You never get the stated euro rate that banks quote to each other. She did mention that if you have over $250,000 in one of their special accounts, they would waive the 5% transaction fee cost. Got the remember that next time if run into a lost gold brick.

Posted by
17657 posts

David, $111/$106 is 104.7% (4.7% over), not 105% (5% over)! Small difference, but banks don't make that kind of mistake. Last time I checked, Well Fargo charged 3% + $5 for an ATM withdrawal, which comes to 4% for a $500 withdrawal, more for a smaller withdrawal. The percent depends on the amount of withdrawal.

Has Wells Fargo changed from 3% to 5%?

BTW, the account that you and I have gives two free withdrawals per calendar month. My last trip spanned two months, and I raised my limit to $750 per withdrawal. That gave me $3000, more than enough for my 21 day trip, so I never paid for ATM withdrawals.

You can get 1% from some credit unions.

Posted by
206 posts

The rates mentioned were only ballpark estimates. I was at Wells Fargo for a different reason and I just mentioned to the banker the exchange rates that were on the screen. They were on the order of $1.11 per euro when the inter-bank rate was $1.06.. She mentioned to me that I could get it for around $1.09 instead because of my accounts. Since I did not actually get any euros, I don't know their exact rate. When I have, I know that they usually take it out to 3-4 decimal places. So, seems to me that no matter where you get your money, you will be paying a fee. How large depends upon your bank and size of your account. Still looking for that gold brick so I can get to the no-fee level.

Posted by
507 posts

Someone please answer this.

In the USA I expect to be charged $1.06+ per Euro. The inverse is a Euro is worth $.94. So when I get €'s at an ATM in Europe, should not the charge be $.94+ say .06 instead of $1.06+?

And why not?

Posted by
10263 posts

Colette,
No, it looks like you have reversed the math. Your first sentence is correct.
But, at the current exchange rate (well, last week), if you want to obtain 100€ euros out of an ATM, when you see your USD bank statement, you'll see that your USD bank account will have been debited about $106+.
As you asked, "why"? Well, that's just the way the math of the exchange rate works.
Hey, not that many years ago, it would have been more like $150 to get 100€.

Posted by
9361 posts

Colette, you have it backward. If a euro is 1.06 in the US, it is still 1.06 if you "buy" it in Europe via an ATM. It is the dollar that is worth .94 of a euro.

Posted by
20632 posts

Even simpler

It takes $1.06 to buy 1 Euro
One Euro buys $.94.

Posted by
507 posts

Kent, Nancy, and Frank,

Thank you for your replies. It is now clear.

I will leave it at that.

Posted by
507 posts

I will add that (until I see my banker) I should have left the ATMs alone & purchased my euros through my home bank.

The banks whose ATMs I used were not associated with Bank of America & a service charge seems to have been tacked on.

Posted by
4637 posts

Nobody knows, it can go both ways but I would not do it. If you are changing it in US you get worse rate than in Europe.