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Where to get Euros in the US

We are going to France in May 2022 and today we tried to order Euros through AAA and through Bank of America. Both added fees (although AAA claims they do not; it is Wells Fargo that they go through that charges). The current exchange rate this morning was 1.10 and AAA charges 1.17; Bank of America 1.16. Must we pay these fees? Is there anywhere we can get Euros without paying fees? Thanks!

Posted by
4473 posts

You really don't need to--just go to ATM when you arrive.
But, credit unions usually perform this service without gouging you.

Posted by
2468 posts

It’s easy to just wait until you’re there and get Euros through a bank ATM at the airport, then more as needed at other ATMs. Just make sure you have plenty of money in your checking account, since foreign ATMs don’t access other accounts, and also let your home bank or credit union know that you’ll be using your bank card overseas. Then, take some Euros back home with you to use next time.

Posted by
265 posts

You can find at ATM at the airport when you land, but you should factor in a few dollars in fees by your bank and potentially the owner of the ATM as well. Sometimes it's nice to already have a few euros when you land for local transport and then find a bank ATM near your hotel that may have a better exchange rate and lower fees. Maybe figure the small cost of getting 100 euros before you go is peace of mind knowing you can at least get yourself to your hotel (taxi, bus, etc) and that you'll likely get close to that rate by the time you add in fees at the ATM in the airport

Posted by
2560 posts

You may obtain euros at no fee from any French bank ATM, if you have chosen your bank wisely. Some US banks, such as B of A or Wells Fargo, add heavy fees to foreign bank ATM withdrawals, 3% plus a potential $5 fixed fee. Other US banks, such as Charles Schwab, add no fees to the free French bank ATM withdrawals, and reimburse you for the 1% currency conversion fee that the exchange networks charge.

After many years of traveling, I have never found a need to carry foreign currency when I travel.

Note: there is only 1 bank ATM at CDG, the HSBC machine found on the upper level of central terminal 2, next to the Marriott (old Sheraton) hotel. The rest of the ATMs are Travelex machines which add surcharges.

Posted by
2133 posts

If you feel more comfortable having some euros in your pocket when you arrive in France, I’d suggest getting just a minimal amount, maybe 100 euros. You’ll find ATMs everywhere in France for withdrawing more cash as you need it.

If you happen to know someone who travels to Europe frequently, you might ask if they have euros leftover from their last trip (which we always do) — and then you can replace them when you return.

Be sure to check your debit cards before you leave, so you know what (if any) fees are associated with their use in Europe. To be safe, some people bring debit cards from two different accounts in case one is lost or rejected. Also, notify your bank/credit card companies that you will be in France; some institutions don’t require this any longer but it can’t hurt to ask.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
2719 posts

The convenience of having the money ahead of time might be worth the fee. I ordered Swiss Francs and Euros from Wells Fargo last year before my trip. It was my first trip to Europe and I didn’t want to be worried about my card not working. So, to me, the fee was worth it as it was one less thing to worry about.

Posted by
8439 posts

Why would anyone expect a business not to make money? If it is important to you have some Euros before you arrive, then simply pay the fee and forget about it. You are paying for convenience and peace of mind. I always like to have at least taxi fare on me, just in case. Then I use ATMS there.
Make sure you have a debit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees.

The good news is that you won't have this problem ever again! Simply return home with the euros you want to start your next trip with. I have stashes of pounds, swiss francs, euros and Canadian dollars. Now, to get to use them.......

Posted by
2429 posts

Why wouldn't there be a fee for providing this service? Also the exchange rate today probably wasn't the exchange rate the day they acquired the euro.

I agree with others to get a small amount here if it makes you more comfortable, but I usually hit a bank machine on arrival.

Posted by
14580 posts

Since the current exchange is $1.10 to one Euro, BofA charges the rate of $1.16, that's reasonable and is to be expected. I get Euros from BofA but at no fee., it's a free exchange, providing you have an account with them and that you exchange one thousand dollars min.

BofA charges a fee to do the transaction if your amount to be converted is less than $1,000. I paid a fee only once but that amount withdrawn was under the $1,000 min. Exceed that...free.

I've done it, eg., have taken $1100 or so out of my checking account to be converted and the entire transaction is free. In SF this can be done at the BofA on Market and Powell, the location of the turning of the cable cars.

You may not get the cash at that moment, normally a few days waiting time, but they contact you for pick-up. Or, it can be mailed. I rather go get it myself in person.

Posted by
7582 posts

Well, your finding out a bit about definitions. A fee is an additional charge, either a flat fee or a percent that is charged, probably both AAA, Wells Fargo, and B of A will tell you they charge no fee. However, they are offering you an exchange rate above the Interbank rate you see published. This is common, I doubt any place in the US would offer you euros for $1.10. $1.16/$1.17 is actually not bad for the US, a little over 5%, you probably cannot get better. If you want the security of having some euros before you land, that is about your best option, though I would only get a couple hundred euro at most.

As others have said, if you can wait, and you have an ATM card with a bank that adds no fees for International or out of network use, and will work in Europe; then get them there. You will get as close to the $1.10 rate (or whatever it is for the day) as you ever can.

Of course watch for ATM use fees there, and DCC, that can make the 5% look cheap.

Posted by
54 posts

I'm with the bring-a-little-cash crowd. I usually get €200 via my Bank of America app, delivered to my house. Fees? Yup. But I'm investing $7,500+USD in my trip and I like the piece of mind of not having to hunt for a distributeur after an overnight trip. I can easily hop into an airport cab and not wonder if the driver takes credit cards. Once at the apartment, I have easy access to cash for essentials like a Mulot croissant while still getting my bearings and fighting jet lag. That bit of cash, along with liberal use of a no-foreign-transaction-fee travel card, strikes a good balance among convenience, comfort and cost.

Posted by
4910 posts

It is apparent from the prior posts that there are two schools of thought about this. Many people get Euros from an ATM upon arrival, and it is the least expensive way to get local currency. Others think it is better to have some Euros in hand before arrival. Far be it for me to tell anyone what to do, but consider this. If you wait until arrival to get Euros, there is the inconvenience of having to find a machine, the stress of hoping it works (they do occasionally malfunction), and doing it all while somewhat jet lagged. For those reasons alone many get two or three hundred Euros beforehand. It will cost a little more, but the amount it cost to have money in hand when arriving is money well spent, and the cost relative to the overall cost of the trip is nothing.

No matter what you do, be sure to notify your bank and credit card companies that you will be traveling. Otherwise they may see a foreign transaction, suspect fraud, and shut down access to your credit and ATM cards.

Posted by
7697 posts

We did purchase foreign currency with Bank of America, since my wife has a card with them. The rate was as good as you can find in the USA, but still not as good as from a bank ATM overseas.

Posted by
3521 posts

Must we pay these fees?

Probably, unless you have a high dollar account with your bank which includes waived fees. But even with that, most banks do charge exchange fees when you get foreign cash.

Best route is to just get the Euros once you get to Europe.

Posted by
494 posts

If there is no fees - then the fee is hidden in the lousy exchange rate you're getting.

You're paying for your insecurity/convenience.

Take several cards and withdraw from an ATM on arrival. You may well discover you don't even need cash anymore

Posted by
15611 posts

I've never had a problem getting local currency at an airport except Istanbul. I believe there are banks/currency exchanges as well that give a poor rate of exchange compared to the ATMs, but probably not any worse than what you'll pay in the US.

The only caveat is that many US banks shut down the computers for 2 hours or more in the wee hours of Sunday morning to do their weekly maintenance. So Sunday morning in Europe you may not be able to withdraw cash. If the network shuts down from 2-4am in NYC, tha'ts 8-10 am in Paris. If your bank is on the West Coast, it's 3 hours later in Paris.

Posted by
4910 posts

Cash? So retro!

To each his own, but technology malfunctions a lot more often than cash.

Posted by
2267 posts

To each his own, but technology malfunctions a lot more often than cash.

I do actually always carry cash. But it's only ever a backup for me, so having local currency in my pocket prior to landing is never a priority for me. And for Euros- I don't bother spending them down prior to departure. Whatever I have leftover—never a lot— just lives in my passport folder until the next trip.

Posted by
1337 posts

I was in Paris for spring break 2 weeks ago and didn't touch cash once. That said, the others are right, just get them at a bank atm in France.

Posted by
14580 posts

Like it or not the BofA has to make money on the transaction. That's a given.

As has been correctly pointed out above, the bank rate at $1.16 is the best you'll get, whether you withdraw one thousand dollars or a lesser amount. if you decide to take out less that than one thousand, you will be charged a transaction fee with the $1.16 rate. I avoid that extra transaction fee by meeting the BofA min to do so: take out one thousand.

I'll use that cash anyway on future trips in Germany, which is still, luckily, a cash society relative to the other countries in Europe, save Austria.

Posted by
8530 posts

I always think its good to have more than one way to pay the check (bill). At home too. My cards, tap, and apple Pay have failed to work for unknown reasons many times. Computers are known to go down.

Posted by
1152 posts

Call me old fashioned, but I like the comfort of having real currency in my pocket. Yes, it is required less and less these days. But I do like landing ready to go. I have paid too much stateside for Euros in the past for this comfort, but in the grand scheme of travel budgets, it really isn't that big of a deal. I do pick and choose whose credit/debit cards I use while traveling, and BOA is my least favorite. I have a Barclays card I use for most International charges because they don't add a "transaction fee" to each and every charge (small charges do add up). Choose your card du jour wisely, but don't sweat it if you need some hard cash and it costs you a little for this convenience de temps en temps.

Posted by
2307 posts

hey hey randa
i have gotten about 200E from wells fargo here in california. i paid maybe $20 to receive, i make sure it's low euros (5, 10 and 20's) that's the price you pay to have.
it was so worth it. one trip to europe had so many people getting off plane to get from an ATM in airport. only one ATM available since other was out of order, who knows when ATM runs low on money, now they have travelex that charges a fee. i have enough for taxi and food for next morning to venice or any other city and lasted me 3 days.
everyone has different ideas about it, but after that chaos at airport not worth the stress. with the money i'm spending on the trip, i'll have one or two less drinks of wine or cocktails wherever i am. just get off plane and get my taxi to city and pick up euros at an ATM there.
how do you think banks make money? of course fees are charged everywhere. it's your decision. to me that's like penny pinching and i don't have time for that.
aloha

Posted by
494 posts

I always think its good to have more than one way to pay the check (bill). At home too. My cards, tap, and apple Pay have failed to work for unknown reasons many times. Computers are known to go down.

Absolutely between 2 of us we carry 2 entirely separate debit cards, one credit card which we are joint owners of (so both cards may get blocked) - plus at least one more card each which are not associated with the above. We also always have both a mastercard and visa card.

I have $200 as an emergency supply buried deep in a money belt. If I had euros I'd take them, and if at the end of Europe I have E200 or so left I will keep it - but otherwise ATMs work just fine

Posted by
494 posts

wherever i am. just get off plane and get my taxi to city and pick up euros at an ATM there.

So do I have - if the ATM at the airport is an issue for some reason I'll get a taxi who will take a card - or tell the taxi to take me to an ATM to get paid. Both work