Currency

We will be taking a 9 night cruise with stops in Barcelona and several cities in Italy and Dubrovnik and ending in Venice. After the cruise for our party of 6 my wife and I are going for another 8 nights through the Swiss Alps. Can anyone help me with the average daily amount of Euros and Swiss francs that i will need while on land (excursions) during the cruise and for small purchases also in Switzerland. Most meals we will use are credit card, but wanted to know how much of the foreign currency I should have. If I need to purchase more I have been tole to use my debit card instead of my credit card. Any help? Thanks! Bob

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2265 posts

Three letters. ATM
Don't use the debit card for anything but getting local currency from ATM's. Let your bank and credit card company know your travel plans.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10868 posts

Just to reinforce Sam. A debit card at a bank owned ATM is the cheapest and most convenient way to obtain local currency. Take two debit cards tied to two different account as a back up to something happening to one of the cards. In nearly 15 years of being totally dependent on a debit card, I have never had a problem with the first card. But I still carry a back up just in case.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7188 posts

You might take some time to read about your ports on cruisecritic.com. There should be a discussion of each one and where each cruise line docks and/or tenders their passengers into port. If you land (either docked or tendered) near the center, great. Old centers always have plenty of ATMs available. I prefer using any indoor ATM to outdoor ATMs, they are much less likely to be tampered with by scammers. If you must use an outdoor ATM, check it out carefully for tampering; don't let anyone stand close or assist you with your transaction; and always cover your hand when you type in your pin. If you dock further out and may need transportation into town, it may be a good idea to get a little local currency (unfortunately at an awful exchange cost) from the ship's purser. The only time I have trouble finding ATMs is around remote docks. I would plan to pay cash for food - credit cards aren't generally welcomed unless at very high end restaurants. If you have a tight day, pack some snacks from the ship so you at least have something in a pinch. It's hard for me to give you a good guess on how much money you will need each day. I like to have roughly the equivalent of fifty dollars in my pocket for fast food, a treat, or a small souvenir. If I decide to buy something more expensive, I'll either use a credit (not debit) card or get more cash from a nearby ATM. You may have either better meals or more souvenirs in mind, so you will have to gauge that for yourself. The reason you don't want to use a debit card for purchases is fraud on a debit card can wipe out your cash reserve for travel. On a credit card, it's just an inconvenience to work around (provided you have a backup card from an unrelated account).

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4870 posts

@Elle - this is what Brad said: "It's hard for me to give you a good guess on how much money you will need each day. I like to have roughly the equivalent of fifty dollars in my pocket for fast food, a treat, or a small souvenir. If I decide to buy something more expensive, I'll either use a credit (not debit) card or get more cash from a nearby ATM. You may have either better meals or more souvenirs in mind, so you will have to gauge that for yourself."
"The reason you don't want to use a debit card for purchases is fraud on a debit card can wipe out your cash reserve for travel. On a credit card, it's just an inconvenience to work around (provided you have a backup card from an unrelated account)." If you read carefully, he said he would either use a credit card OR get more cash from a nearby ATM. He only suggested a credit card for PURCHASES, and did not suggest getting a cash advance from a credit card.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7188 posts

Thanks, Yes, definitely "OR" In case I wasn't clear. Use a credit card for purchases (expensive souvenir, upscale restaurant, car rental). Use a debit card for cash from the ATM. Credit cards aren't a good option for cash advances and making purchases with debit cards should be avoided. I wanted to be clear because the original question says they've been told to use their debit rather than their credit card for purchases - and I think the opposite is the better way to go.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2466 posts

If paying for anything with a credit card, be sure the transaction is done in the local currency rather than in dollars, which will involve a double-exchange rate.