Please sign in to post.

Converting Euros for the Math Challenged...

I'm curious if anyone has any tricks for converting dollars to euros (or euros to dollars) quickly in your head. For example, to figure out how much to tip here at home, I double the amount of tax (8.6% x 2 - 19.2% tip).

I'm not an idiot (honestly, I have a graduate level education), but I just seem to have this mental block with numbers that I have to work to get past. Once I figure out a trick for something, I manage just fine.

I know the dollar keeps changing and that conversions are roughly $1.36. I don't care about complete precision of the exchange rates. I just need some easy trick to convert money in my head relatively quickly when making purchasing decisions.

Posted by
35 posts

I simply add 50%, in other words if it's 10 euros I think $15. It's a little high but for me it's close enough as 10 euros would be $13.60. Hope that helps. By the way, if you go to England you simply double it...10 pounds = $20.

Posted by
389 posts

Mariann's way works and keeps you "safe", overestimating your spending so you don't blow too much. Also, I think it is easier to thing € 3 is $4, so if you really want to know, divide by 3 and multiply by 4. So 18/3 =6 x 4 = € 24 or right around there (this is today barring any major change in exchange rates). I thank God for my mom's crazy math. It really works for me.

Posted by
2779 posts

Talking about tipping: I was in London Saturday and had a coffee at one of the street coffee shops around Covent Garden. In the menue it said the cup of freshly brewed coffee was GBP 1.70. When I got the check I found it interesting to read: Coffee - 1.70, Optional Service Charge (10%) - 0.17, Total - 1.87... Personally I would have given her 2 pounds and let her keep the change, as it is very common in many European countries. But in that case I insisted on getting my 13p back. For those of you who travel the UK plus Euro-Countries: 1 pound is 1 1/2 Euros, so that's rather easy to calculate. And with Switzerland it's the other way around: 1 Euro is 1 1/2 Swiss Francs.

Posted by
17 posts

I really like the idea of just adding 50%. That would make sure I did not underestimate.

Posted by
19169 posts

Talk about math challenged! 8.6% x 2 is 17.2%, not 19.2%.

As for tipping, my practice used to be to add 50 cent (half a Euro) then round it up to the next Euro. When I discussed tipping with my hostess in Germany, she was appalled. She told me in no uncertain terms that I should round up the bill to the next Euro, and that was that - no more. Even if the bill is €17,90, give €18.

I think the principle is that service people are already paid. It is just considered bad manners to take the small change.

Posted by
223 posts

See, I told you so. I was sitting there, posting my question, and had to quickly add up numbers. So, like a deer caught in headlights, I typed in 19.2 real quick and was wrong. :) I do know, however, that it is within the acceptable tipping range of 15-20%. That's why I come up with tricks in the first place. (I actually can do math - it just takes me a minute to get beyond the panic when my brain freezes.)

Anyway, I like the idea of adding 50% to each euro, which will keep me well within my budget. Thanks a bunch to all for your suggestions.

Posted by
191 posts

I traveled to europe last year and almost throughout, the bill already included a tip or service charge. I found in most places people don't tip because the staff already makes a good wage.

I know though when I go shopping I hate standing there trying to think up how much stuff is, in my dollar, so I make a little cheat sheet before I go I write down how much $1, $5, $10, $15, $20 is in euro that way if I'm in a store I can look at the little sheet and if something is 4 euro I can kinda guess based on the 5 euro price how much it will be. It avoids spending to much.

Posted by
19169 posts

You are correct. In most places service (tip) is included already. In Germany I think it is the law. There will be a little phrase somewhere on the menu that says "Service ist inclusive" or "Bedienung ist einbegriffen". Means the same thing - service is included, no need to tip. It is just considered impolite to take the fractional Euro. And, I have also heard that anything over 10% is too much.

Posted by
5 posts

Tipping- most countries in Europe you will see "V.A.T.included" which is tax and tip. However, I am in Germany now and both in Rothenberg and Cochem it is tax included but not tip. The staff still make better than the $2 in the States but it is customary to tip if you enjoyed the service.

As for converting the Euro to dollars every transaction, stop. After a few days or summers, I buy it if I like the price and pass when I don't.
As a diet coke or Coke light addict, I dont mind paying 1.5 to 2 Euros but I will look for another store or not order at cafe if it is 3+ Euros - drink wine instead!

Posted by
19169 posts

V.A.T. is "Value Added Tax". That's what you would see on a menu in England. You probably won't see that on a German menu, unless maybe it is one translated into English for non-speakers of German. In German it is MWST; Mehrwertsteuer (more worth tax). It is the tax only, NOT tax and tip.

Somewhere on that menu are the words "Service ist inclusive" or "Bedienung is einbegriffen". Service has to be included in the bill, and you just round up the bill to the next Euro. That is what native Germans living in Germany have told me.

Tips are not left on the table. When the waiter comes to you with the bill for, say €26,50, you round it up to €27. If you have the exact amount, give it to him and say "Stimmt so" (shtimt zo, this is correct). If you need change, give him, say €30, and say "Sieben und zwanzig Euro" (€27).

Posted by
19169 posts

Unforturnately, naive Americans who overtip have created an expectation amongst German (European, in general, I think) waiters that we will give them big gifts.

Case in point, a few years ago, coincidently, in Rothenburg, we had dinner at a restaurant on the town square. I guess the waiter thought I was impressed with his limited English, which I did not need. The bill came to €31. I handed him two €20 notes and, despite his cocky attitude, said (auf Deutsch, natürlich) "Thirty-two Euro". He went away with my €40 and never came back. Apparently he thought he was entitled to a 30% tip! I finally had to hunt him down for the change.

Posted by
2779 posts

I have to endorse Lee's comments. A German waiter/waitress would never expect a big tip from German customers. But since they've really been spoiled by American visitors (both tourists and business travelers) they've actually come to expect you to completely over-tip. My recommendation is you treat them perfectly nice and fine and upon paying the check just round up the sum to the next best full Euro figure without breaking the €2 mark. If the sum is 36.75 tell them in English (they'll understand): "Make it 38 please" as that'll show them you understand the German (Austrian, Swiss) scheme. Caution: If you pay credit card you'll have to announce your total prior to the waiter walking away with your card. Visa, Mastercard and Co. don't print the tip line on most of the German slips. Alternatively, hand him/her a tip in cash when he/she is picking up the signed slip. Do I make sense to you?...

Posted by
683 posts

We have usually done 4/3 of the amount to equal the US dollar.So that, let us say €30 would be about $40. As time goes by, we assume American money will be increasingly valueless and the earlier suggestion- of multiplying by 1 and 1/2-- will be appropriate

Posted by
2785 posts

One post above said that V.A.T. was tax and tip. It only tax and has nothing to do with s tip. Valued Added Tax = V.A.T.

Posted by
3 posts

Not to pick you apart any more but in seattle the restaurant tax isn't 8.6% it is 9.4% and sales tax is 8.9%, so even though you are still leaving a decent tip, if you think you are doubling the tax you aren't.

Posted by
223 posts

Yeah, I AM doubling the tax, it just might add up to more than I thought. When the bill says "Tax $2.05" and I leave $4.10, that is doubling the tax. I got your point though. Also, I live in the suburbs and loosly say "Seattle." I think it is unnecessary on this forum to get that precise about location (Seattle, vs. King County, vs. Kirkland, Bellevue, Kent, etc. - all of which have different tax rates.)

Posted by
223 posts

Yeah, I understand. I did get the tip I wanted though. The one where people just pretend it is $1.50 per Euro works for me, even though it is a little high. That way, I'll always be within budget and it's easy! :)