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Seasoned Travelers - Money Question

Should I get Euros before leaving the US? I will be able to get Euros at CDG airport when I arrive but wondered if I needed some on the trip. Also, I've been advised to keep any leftover Euros after my trip is over (for my next trip). Is this what you do? How much cash do you normally keep on your person while walking around in Paris (in a money belt). Thank you!

Posted by
2002 posts

Though the exchange rate is not good if buying Euros at the airport, it might be a good idea to have a few Euros with you when you arrive, though I don't think it's really necessary. I like to have at least 50 Euros on me when I arrive and not have to search for an ATM right away. I don't think I've ever used an ATM at CDG in several trips.

I always keep leftover Euros (and GBP's) since I know there will be future European trips.

As for cash I have walking around, depending on what I have planned for that day, I usually have between 100-200 Euros in my purse. Of course I spend a lot of it during the day, if shopping, dining, etc. -- and it doesn't last long!

Posted by
8293 posts

It is my habit to buy some euros before leaving, may 100. Then I use bank-associated ATMs in Paris for my stay. I never exchange any left over euros back to dollars. My walking around cash is about 50 euros plus my ATM card.

Posted by
1068 posts

I usually start by getting whatever type of cash the country requires at an ATM at the airport..... I avoid cash exchange stores. Generally, I don't see a point in taking cash over on the plane and I've never had a problem finding an ATM in an airport. I'm less cautious with Euros (because I assume I will go to a country that uses them again) but generally try and spend down pretty much before I leave. So I have very few rubles, rupees etc. Daily, I walk around with 50 or 100 Euros in my money-belt for emergencies and spread out the anticipated spending cash among several accessible pockets. Depending on what I am going to do, it could be 50-70 Euros. Of course, everyone travels differently and has higher/lower standards, but that is the way I do it.

Posted by
9110 posts

Though the exchange rate is not good if buying Euros at the airport . . . .

HSBC has the lock on all the atms at Roissy. Their rate is just as good as any other bank's.

Posted by
11613 posts

I try to bring back some euro, even if it's just 20 or so; that's enough to get me to the hotel or central train station, where I get euro from a bank ATM.

If I am going without any leftover euro, I will get 100 or so from my bank in th US before I go (allow a few days). I'm not good with money transactions right after a long flight.

Posted by
3713 posts
  1. You don't have to, but if it is easy to get € in Austin and if it will make you more comfortable to arrive with them, do it. I did for our 1st trip.
  2. After that, I bring home all I have, coins and paper, and save them for the next trip. There is nowhere in Tucson to buy them anymore, but I'd still save them even if there was.
  3. It seems like there are bank branches with ATMs everywhere in Paris and my credit unions charge no per transaction fees, but I usually withdraw about €600 at a time. So I'm often carrying at least that much in my money belt at any time. The coins and about €200 are in my purse readily available for use. At today's exchange rate, that's roughly $1000 total, but if I'm paying cash for almost everything, it goes fast. My husband and I can easily drop €100+ on a single meal. If there is no safe in the room or apartment, I prefer to keep the paper cash in my money belt.

I should add that except for maybe €50 or so coffee money for him, I carry all the cash on our trips.

Posted by
215 posts

The only thing I can think of that you'd need euros for right away would be a taxi from CDG to your hotel/apt. Not sure if they take credits cards. We took the RER between CDG and Paris so we could have used a credit card(with a person not in the ticket machines) if needed.
I usually carry 100-200€ with me in my purse(with cross body strap) I don't use a money belt. I try and make sure I have between 50-100€ leftover to take home for future trips. I've never found I've needed any euros before being able to get to an ATM at our final destination but I guess if I had none and I could get some at an ATM in the airport at the going rate I would do that(I wouldn't buy from a money changer, leaving Boston for CDG 2 weeks ago the rate was around .20 more per dollar at the money exchange than the rate posted on xe.com)

Posted by
4592 posts

Hi Kathy,

I keep leftover Euros from a previous trip to have Euros when we arrive the next time. I especially like to keep approximately 15 Euro in coins total for both of us, so that we can purchase the local transportation tickets from the machines and quickly move out of the airport. For CDG, you can purchase the RER train tickets - just checked a site, and it looks like you'll need 9.75 Euro. The machines (blue ones for RER transportation) take coins, or you'll need to go to a ticket window; our credit cards don't work in their machines.

We don't use credit cards in Europe - just bring one for emergency. We take out 250 Euro during each ATM transaction and that lasts us for 2-4 days, depending on what we're doing. That money goes directly into our moneybelt. When we're down to ~75 Euro, we'll do our next ATM transaction. I pay our hotels ahead of time through Expedia, purchase any specialty event tickets and our train tickets between locations ahead of time on-line. Our cash is mostly for eating, metro tickets, and museums, etc.

In Paris I carried a small travel purse with my metro tickets, Museum Pass, and ~5-20 Euro. I would switch money from moneybelt to purse as needed when I stopped at the toilets in the museums.

Enjoy your time in Paris!

Posted by
5648 posts

Having made a few trips now, we have a few Euros left over from the previous trip, so haven't needed to think about obtaining them in the USA before taking the next trip. As Ray noted above, we also try to use up the majority of Euros before coming home, and bring back just 20 to 60 euros at most, to have when we land again in Europe. They can't be spent very easily anywhere else, and having a stash of unspendable cash is like storing your life savings in the mattress. Assuming we will return on another trip, I would assume that there will still be ATM's and I'll still have an ATM card.

Where the exchange rate isn't ideal is from your local bank. They won't necessarily rip you off, but you'll get way more euros for your dollar from an ATM over in Europe. Also, avoid the Exchange Bureau desks and ATMs over there - use an actual ATM from a full-fledged bank for the best rates and minimal transaction fees.

Since there usually are fees for withdrawing cash, however, the fewer withdrawals you make, the fewer the fees. That means taking out large sums at each withdrawal. Towards the end of your trip, calculate how much you'll be needing over those last few days, so you don't wind up with a huge surplus of cash, or start paying for everything in cash and use your credit card sparingly. So, bulging moneybelt with the latest big withdrawal inside, we split up each big withdrawal between the 2 of us, but carry a fair amount. More and more, we've used our credit cards for lodging, food, and other purchases, so we've used less actual cash on recent trips.

Posted by
5789 posts

Question sounds like a FAQ. Take a look at:

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/cash-tips

Don’t buy foreign currency in advance. Some tourists just have to have euros or pounds in their pockets when they step off the airplane, but smart travelers don’t bother and know better than to get lousy stateside exchange rates. Wait until you arrive at your destination; I’ve never been to an airport in Europe that didn’t have plenty of ATMs.

Posted by
6017 posts

My take..I also usually have some euro on me when I land, usually from a previous trip, never have I went to the trouble to exchange some here. Even if I have some, first stop is an ATM, never have I paid more than 1% over exchange from an ATM, bank atm or not.

Walking around cash...maybe 50 euro in my front pocket, if I am out for the whole day, supplement that with 100 to 200 in my neck pouch plus a credit card.

I always take some euro home, I do not put much effort into it other than spending my reserve down to closer to 100 euro, seems like I wind up with 50 or so by the time I get through the airport and on the flight home.

Posted by
926 posts

I like to bring about 50 euro with me that I get at my bank before my trip, plus whatever change I might have left over from my last trip. I am exhausted usually by the time I arrive and don't want to have to deal with getting money immediately along with dealing with getting my transportation to my hotel. Not that it is hard, it's just not what I want to do just then. At the end of my trip I try to have less than 20 euro left. What I have in my moneybelt depends on how recently I last went to the atm. It's usually 100-400 euro. In my wallet I usually have 50 euro or less.

Posted by
5669 posts

I always have some money. I'll never forget arriving in Greece with only Deutsch Marks (alright, that date's the trip) and discovering it was a holiday and so no opp to change money. Of course, ATM's don't care about holidays, well, except when they run out of cash, which did happen to a friend. So, I carry enough to get me from the airport to my hotel in case of an emergency. What does peace of mind cost?

Pam

Posted by
51 posts

Edgar, I honestly totally missed the travel tips about money. I will be reading all of that asap! Thanks everyone for sharing your advice with a newbie! I hope this is the first of many trips!

Posted by
9363 posts

I think that a vast majority of us here have at least a little walking-around money in Euro (or whatever) before we arrive in a new country. If I didn't have leftovers from another trip I would exchange a little at my departure airport, then hit a bank ATM on arrival.

Posted by
1976 posts

I also like arriving with some local currency on me. I used to go to a bank before I left and buy some euros, pounds, whatever; now I keep any cash from my trip and bring it back on the next one to use for the first day, so that I don't have to worry about finding an ATM until the next day. I withdraw between 250 and 300 euros at a time and keep most of it in my money belt.

Posted by
5789 posts

...now I keep any cash from my trip and bring it back on the next one to use for the first day....

Same here, I try to end a trip with some extra local currency in the hopes that I will soon return. But that said, I'm confident that I can find a working ATM on arrival in Europe and don't go out of my way to acquire local currency before getting on the plane.

My epic multi-country/multi-currency was a three country trip some years ago. I started with several days in London meaning that I needed to acquire GB Pounds. Not a problem getting GBP notes from an ATM at Heathrow. We then flew to Helsinki as a gateway to an above Arctic Circle trip and needed to acquire Euros. Again, not a problem getting Euros from the airport ATM. Flew to Ivalo above the Arctic Cirble then skied from Finland across the Tana River into Norway. No ATMs but didn't need cash until we had to take a taxi into little town of Mehamn (complications with the ski tour) and had to find an ATM to get some NOK to pay for the taxi. (Mehamn, NO is a small village of about 700 persons at the tip of the Nordkinn Peninsula). Again, not a problem. Three countries, three currencies, not a problem.

The bigger concern than finding an ATM is having an ATM card that might work. Notify your bank and have a back up ATM card.

Posted by
11450 posts

Kathy I hope you understand that a moneybelt is deep storage, you do not carry your daily spending money in it. A moneybelt is worn under your clothes and is only used for deep storage, you should never access it in public!

I carry about 50-100 euros in my purse for dailt spending use. I leave bulk of money and cards in my hotel safe or rental apartment.

Posted by
31521 posts

Kathy,

My suggestions (presented in the same order as your questions).....

  • I prefer having €50-100 on hand for the trip, for buying meals or other incidentals until I get settled at my first hotel. I usually have Euro left over from previous trips, so that's what I use. If you're planning to take the RER "B" into Paris from the airport, you'll need cash since the ticket Kiosks will ONLY accept "C&P" credit cards. As I recall, the Kiosks take coins but there are bill changers close to the Kiosks. You could also stand in the queue at the ticket office if you want to use a credit card.
  • Yes, there will be ATM's at CDG. As I'm jet lagged and tired, I prefer to get out of there as quickly as possible after landing, so don't like stopping at ATM's.
  • Yes (as mentioned above)
  • As someone else mentioned, the Money Belt is only for "deep storage" and not for daily transactions. I'd suggest estimating what you'll need for the touring you plan to do each day, and keep that amount accessible in a secure pocket or whatever. The remainder of your cash, credit cards, etc. will be stored on the Money Belt, and NOT accessed where others can see.
Posted by
5697 posts

Important -- have a change purse or pocket or zip-lock baggie for coins so you always have those necessary 50-cent coins for pay toilets. There are times when you don't want to be looking for change!

Posted by
11613 posts

Pay toilets are up to €1 in many places.

Posted by
51 posts

This is invaluable information! Thank you all for your advice! I'm getting so excited for my first trip to Europe. Divorced and almost 60 but better late than never! Life is only just beginning! LOL

Posted by
9914 posts

Kathy that is the best kind of trip!

As to your question I usually start with 200 €. I want enough for transportation and meals the first day.

I recently went with a friend from Rue Cler neighborhood to CDG via RER to meet up with another friend and we both decided this is a trip as 60-somethings we would not do with luggage. We both took cabs to the airport when we left and decided we will just include that expenditure in our travel budgets.

I do carry about 60-75 € in my purse for my day money with the rest stashed in my money belt.

Posted by
3330 posts

I, too, always return home with around 100 euro for the next trip. As luck would have it, the one time I didn't, the atm's in CDG were down. ( As someone above mentioned theý all belong to one bank.). We were flying on to Genoa, where we would need to pay for transport to our hotel. Not wanting to trust to Italian banks, I panicked a bit and changed my $100 emergency cash at an AMEX desk, at a terrible rate. The joke was on me. In Genoa, there were around five atm's, from different banks, all operating. To top it off, the bus from the airport cost 1 euro/pp and stopped on the square where our hotel was located. Bottom line: I am now very careful to bring home that stash of 50 - 100 euros. Bottom bottom line: The terrible rate from AMEX on $100 exchange was an insignificant per cent of the total cost of the trip. I wouldn't get all my euros in the U.S., and I wouldn't use a currency exchange for all my cash needs; but it's important to keep things in perspective.

Posted by
12982 posts

Hi,

I keep enough Euro on hand for the next trip. No way am I going to use up the remaining Euro by paying cash for the hotel bill, etc. Landing over there I have sufficient Euro on me left over from the last trip. Much better that way than getting it stateside prior to departure. Walking around Paris I have the reserve Euro placed in the hidden pocket or neckpouch.

Posted by
3580 posts

Kathy, go go go to Europe now. You will be glad you did. You are plenty young enough and should be able to enjoy travel for a long time. I'm late 70s now and am so glad I got into European travel in my early sixties. I have some physical limitations now, so won't get to Europe many more times.

Your money question has been answered. I have sometimes bought a lot of foreign currencies from my bank at home before leaving. I aim for about a thousand dollars worth so I don't have to pay a $15 fee. I put all this cash into my money belt and withdraw funds as needed. My walking around money which I carry securely in a wallet is about $50-75. It depends if I expect to go shopping. I rely on ATMs if I need to replenish my funds. I take home extra cash and use it the next trip. I always aim to have enough to get me from the airport to my hotel. I use credit cards very little. Mine has been compromised a couple of times so I just pay everything with cash if I can.

Posted by
2753 posts

The whole world of money changing has been overturned the last few years. You can now get money before your trip from a local bank, a local exchange bureau, over the internet, or from a credit union. As noted, just for security have about 100 Euros on you when you land, then get more as needed from ATMs. Use credit cards when possible to keep those Euros in your pocket. No travelers checks!

At the end of your trip, either keep the Euros or trade them in, no difference.

Posted by
74 posts

If you are a AAA member, you can buy Euros (for cash or check) before you leave for Europe. I'm a nervous nellie so I did that. AAA will also buy back surplus euros on your return so long as you are selling at least $50 worth.

I preferred using my credit card to standing at ATMs in the street. But different strokes for different folks. I don't think there is a single right answer.

Posted by
1845 posts

We really don't worry about bringing any Euros and go straight to the ATM in the airport. We usually get 500 euros each to carry in our money belt and use only cash for our whole trip. Yes, that is a lot of money to carry, but we keep it safe. We use a Charles Schwab account and have no fees. We have never had trouble getting Euros right off the plane, but bring whatever we have left over from a previous trip but that doesn't amount to much.