I don't have access to a bank account for my niece who is in France. Any suggestions on how to get money, gift cards etc. to her? Should I get a check in Euros here and then mail it? Gift cards bought here, such as Starbucks, won't work in France, will they? Thank you!
I'm assuming she has an account in France? You can easily facilitate an international wire transfer with an internet connection and a credit card. You'll need her bank's IBAN and BIC codes (account numbers...she can get them for you) and will have to pay a transaction fee, but it's about as easy and secure as it gets. I wire money internationally several times per year...I have to handle large transfers at my local bank through Travelex, but I use Western Union for smaller transfers using a credit card. Easy. Check out their website. PayPal might be an option for you, as well. I've only used it to pay deposits, etc., so I can't comment on using this service for transferring money. Good luck.
Easier yet, if her parents here have access to her checking account, is to send them a check to deposit. Then send her an email letting her know. Tell her you hope she treats herself to some special candy.
Consider a preloaded debit card. Just check the fees involved. Some of the newer cards have lower fees. Check Walmart. It is reported that they have introduced a new card with low fees.
Cindy, Did your niece pack along an ATM card attached to a U.S. Bank? If she did, simply arrange to deposit money in her account and she can withdraw the funds in France. I've used that method before with relatives living overseas, and it works well. Cheers!
Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the information.
You're right in figuring that a Starbucks gift card from the States won't work here. They don't even HAVE gift cards at Starbucks here! In general, though, the problem is that the currencies don't match up. The other Helpliners have given good ideas!
Never send a check to Europe. It takes up to 20 days and heft fees to clear an international check from outside EU. Alternatives available include what people mentioned and also: - buy her a gift card for Amazon France online ( http://www.amazon.fr/gp/gc/ref=topnav_ccad/277-7352787-2509349 ) so she can shop there online (do NOT send a USA Amazon gift card). You can pay for an Amazon France gift card normally with an American Credit Card. - use Western Union, which cost a bit but allows her to withdraw money within 15 minutes of you sending it in countless business/banks/agents in France.
Paypal & a Paypal debit card - she can buy things directly or get cash from an ATM. It's easy to transfer money between people that way.