Purchasing Euros

Hello - I was wondering if there is a quick and easy way to purchase Euros. I belong to a local credit union and they do not offer that service. Thank you!

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8732 posts

If I don't have any left over from a prior trip, I order $200 worth from Wells Fargo online.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
14100 posts

You may not have a Wells Fargo in your area. A local Am Express office might be available or even a AAA office. You will pay about 8 to 10% to obtain Euro in the US. But pay it to have a hundred Euro or so in your pocket when you arrive and then use your debit card at a bank owned ATM for the cash you need during your trip.

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
864 posts

I always keep back a hundred or so Euros from my last trip for the next one. If I didn't have any I would get some from my bank (most banks can order them for you have have them delivered to your home - yup, cash in the mail:)) Having a bit of cash on hand is like having a warm blankie and hot chocolate for your emotional self. That said I've never encountered a problem getting cash from an ATM at the airport. If one rejects you it's probably out of cash. Try another. Take out the max each time to cut down on fees (remember the machines' max and your daily withdrawal limit my differ). Try for a lesser amount if rejected.

Posted by James E.
4479 posts

Marjorie; don't know where you are going or how, but generally there will be an exchange in the airport arrivals hall. They don't give great rates but it will serve to get taxi cash or similar. For the most part use an ATM card to draw Euros from the first ATM you find along the way. The internet has some pretty detailed information on the various airports and you might even be able to locate the exchange counter and an ATM in the airport before you leave. As for the ATMs near where you are going to stay or on the way they can also generally be located on Google Maps.

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1834 posts

Do you have a family member or friend who uses a different credit union or bank? Maybe they can purchase euros for you and you can immediately repay them in dollars. I wouldn't recommend US Bank because they use Travelex for currency exchange and their fees are high. But if they're the only option, bite the bullet and buy some euros. I like to arrive in a country with some local currency.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6030 posts

Before my first trip I wanted to get some euros to get me started. As you have discovered, most credit unions don't provide this service. I have a friend that banks with Bank of America. I gave her the cash and she ordered the euros for me. Easy. Since then I bring some home to get me started on the next trip. I've got 250 euros stored in my passport, just waiting to be used!!

Posted by Chip
Tipton, Iowa
332 posts

Marjorie, 15 cities in New York have Wells Fargo International teller sites that should sell euros at about 5.5% markup with no delivery or other fees. Click on international teller sites at this link to see if one is handy to you: https://www.wellsfargo.com/foreignexchange/ Call ahead to make sure they have what you need on hand and will sell to "outsiders". Don't get all €50 notes; ask for some fives, tens, and twenties. You are unlikely to beat Wells Fargo for foreign currency purchases in the USA.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

Marjorie, hi. Ive been trying different methods to obtain foreign currency and so far from what i can figure out, your best bet is to use the ATM. but before you do, check your Credit Union (CU) and find out what their rates are for: > Foreign transaction using your Credit Card (CC)
> ATM withdraw (w/d) in foreign countries. also depending on how much you want to w/d you may reach your limit faster since the Euro is stronger than the US dollar (USD) at this time. But its just a matter of estimating what your limit is or punch in amounts until the ATM accepts it. also, check with your CU and find out if they are with any other bank/CU group/association or ? my CU is part of the "co-op network" and ive seen the same over in the UK, France and NL so far (its as far as ive made it). happy trails.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Maybe I can put a lid on this. Ninety-seven countries with something close to a thousand international airports (including every one I've seen mentioned on the Helpline) and only twice (not in Europe) have I been unable to obtain local currency within ten minutes of walking off the plane. Absolute stinking worse is having to use an exchange booth (or affiliated macnine) to get the first little bit of cash until a real ATM shows up. Exchange a hundred bucks and you get back ninety equivalent instead of ninety-eight point five. You're out eight bucks and four bits, probably about the same deal you get buying somewhere ahead of time. And it's one less thing you have to do before you leave. For the two that didn't work out: One was a very late arrival at a minor airport and the booth had closed and the two ATM's were out of service. The other was also a late arrival, but was compounded by the fact that the idiot that was driving was also the idiot who'd filled out the flight plan (but failed to put in the C&I request/notification) who was also the same idiot who chickened out with the destination weather and ducked into the alternate airplane patch. We had to sit on the tarmac until the welcoming committee showed up and by that time the world was closed. The idiot shall remain nameless. You can get money at airports.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
1116 posts

What Ed said, although zero bad experiences unlike the two he described.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14133 posts

As I always say, it's not the probability of the ATM not working for you, it's the consequences if it doesn't. Picture yourself in a strange country, where you don't speak the language, with no money and no way to get any until you call your bank tomorrow, and you don't have money for the phone. Sure, you can probably work something out, but you'll probably wish you'd spent a few dollars more to have cash when you got there. I once arrived at an airport in Europe with three ATM cards. The first two cards didn't work at the airport's ATM. I just got the message, "call your bank" (it was Sunday morning at 3 AM Denver time!). Fortunately the third card worked. But I did have a few hundred Euro with me from my last trip, so I was covered until Monday. Last year, I crossed over from Germany to the Czech Republic at a small border town. I came into town on a local German train, for which I had a pass due to staying in the area, but I wanted to buy a Czech Rail ticket to Prague. The ATM in the town where I was staying only gave out Euro. I don't know if the Czech Rail counter would have taken Euro or not, but I didn't leave it to chance. Before I left Denver, I got about $40 worth of Koruna from Wells Farge, enough for my ticket, lunch in Pilsen, and the Metro to my hotel in Prague. Some of us have bank accounts that give us fee-less ATM withdrawals and some local banks and CUs charge only 1%, but the majority of big banks charge 3% plus a flat fee equal to at least 1% of your withdrawal, so you'll pay over 4% from the ATM. Wells Fargo charges, on average, 5% for Euro from an international teller, so, if you are one of those persons using a big bank ATM card, for 200€, you'll only be paying a something like $1.20 (today) more to bring 200€ from here. When it cost so little to be safe, why risk being sorry?

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
1422 posts

Any regular traveller to foreign currency areas should have not one but at least two debit/ATM cards, drawn on chequing accounts at different banking institutions. That's really better-safe-than-sorry. Individual ATMs can go nuts on one card and happily cough up cash for the next, for no conceivable reason. The secure feeling when carrying two sources of cash more than makes up for any nuisances involved in setting up the accounts. Might as well get a credit card from each account, too, with a four-digit PIN (but never borrow money on a cc except in the most dire of circumstances.)
Credit unions are laudable enterprises but probably not the best players in international finance.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
1116 posts

First, not all trips start in the eurozone, so kroner, lira, pounds, pesos, bahts, rupees are also in the mix. When landing at an airport in the eurozone, a few euros are typically in hand from a prior trip, but I don't obsess about this element. I have several ATM cards/accounts that act separately, although my main, and never fail one has no additional fee...just the interbank rate. It's a bargain compared to other ATM cards. To purchase foreign currency in advance guarantees I will pay a premium well above the interbank rate. If all ATMs at an arriving airport are not operational, take some cash and buy the local currency at an exchange booth, although I have never been required to do so. What are the odds that all ATMs are on the blink and no exchange booths open? In that case, Ed will likely be with me and we'll figure it out.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

Marjorie, To directly answer your question, Try your CU. they should be able to get the Euros for you. Call and ask. Chances are though, it will cost you a little more, but of course that will depend on how much $$$ you want. i got my Pounds and Euros from my Credit Union (CU). There were shipping fees and they charged me $8.00 / currency. but i can tell you the exchange rate was NOT the same as on the web sites. happy trails.