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Buying Euros

I am going to Italy in September. Rick Steves always suggest to buy euros when you get there not before.

Currently, the euro is at a 20 year low. Should I just go ahead and buy my euros now? I live in Canada.

Posted by
23245 posts

Nothing is changing. Probably the same or lower in September. The cheapest and most convenient way will be to use a debit card at a bank own ATM in country. I doubt that you can find anywhere in Canada where you can buy euro at the current exchange rate. Everything will be sold for something over the exchange rate. In the US that markup can be as much as 10%. If you need it, and I always do, buy a hundred for pocket change and get what you need when you arrive.

Posted by
5581 posts

I agree with Frank. There are many posts on this topic. Your best deal on Euros will be at a bank or credit union in Italy that is in the same network as yours. There should be symbols on the back of your ATM card. I try to use the ATM during bank hours. We had our card sucked in by the ATM once (good idea to have multiple ATM cards) and we just went into the bank to retrieve the card.

According to analysts, the euro is not expected to become stronger against the dollar (Canadian or USD) in the near future. It will stay as it is for a while or become even more favorable to Canadian and U.S. travelers.

The forecasts are, of course, predictions. Anything could happen. I got foreign currency a couple times years ago before a trip. It is not a good deal even if you are a customer of the bank. It is extremely easy to obtain foreign currency when you arrive and you will find credit cards are widely accepted, as well. (Always make your CC transactions in EURO)

We usually try to have about 100 euro left over at the end of the trip to make it even easier for the following trip.

Posted by
8423 posts

What is the rate that your bank is willing to sell them for?

Posted by
3044 posts

OK, let's say you got Euros 3 months ago vs now. How much difference is there? On April 11, you had the exchange rate of 1€=1.08$.

So, if you changed $200, you would have gotten €185 or so.

Today, you would get €199 or so.

We are taking about €8/$100, or €15/$200. That's 2 coffees, a pastry, and a glass of wine. That's at the big-bank rate. For a person, it would be much much less.

The dollar may strengthen, or weaken. It's not going to go to 1€=2$. Maybe it will go to 1€=1.05$.

If the dollar weakens, we may pre-pay some hotels at current rates. Other than that, we will not get € before landing Sept 14.

Posted by
4385 posts

unless you're engaging in major arbitrage, don't worry about exchange rates. There's nothing you can do about it, and as noted it hardly amounts to anything. Get about 100 euros and see if you need them.

Posted by
8345 posts

I wanted to add that cash is used less and less these days. The current rate online shows to be $1.31 Canadian for 1 euro.

Posted by
3100 posts

Hi Vanessa.
I'm also in Canada.
I don't know where you live in Canada, but if you can get to a Currency Exchange place, that's the best place to buy foreign currency.
Never buy from banks, as they will charge you as much as they can.
I always take a couple of hundred Euro with me, to do me on arrival till I get to an ATM in Italy.
The exchange rate now is the lowest I've seen it in about 15 years.
Buy now if you can.
I will also be in Italy in September.

Posted by
10176 posts

No, withdraw there using your ATM.

We live there and use the ATM to avoid the change fees. Rates will be the same. Currency exchanges (Wise, MoneyCorp, Currencies Direct) are good for big ticket purchases (apartment, car) but use your ATM and credit card for anything else.

The rate is predicted to hold steady for a while according to the crystal ball manufacturers.

Posted by
7514 posts

I think to put it another way, what ever the current rate is, for you to get euros here will cost you 5-7% or more(I know, I know, banks say "no fee's, but it's in the rate.) Using your card there, gets you nearly at rate, maybe 1% if you are doing it right. Basically by buying, you are betting that the rate will go up 5 plus %. Anything less, you saved nothing.

I agree with others, nothing has changed...except maybe you will be using less cash, more credit, just for ease of transaction and preference of the merchant. Getting a couple hundred ahead has always been a personal preference of many, no issue with that.

Posted by
2661 posts

I’m in the minority, but I like to get cash ahead of time. I don’t want to have to worry about my card not working in an ATM machine. Last year I ordered some Euros and Swiss Francs from Wells Fargo before my trip. I have some left over for future trips.

Posted by
34 posts

We ALWAYS bring a couple hundred in cash. We have been in situations where the atm machines are out of cash, or out of order. Especially on weekends
In real dollars and cents the fee is a small price to pay for peace of mind
Better to be safe than sorry

Posted by
8345 posts

I feel like everyone just breezed past the "cash is used less and less these days." If you are still making decisions based on what you used to do pre-pandemic, you need to know that the practices have changed. It is probably more important to make sure that you have a contactless credit card and a back up for it, then having a great deal of cash. While it varies from country to country, the contactless credit card or Apple Pay is here to stay.

Take some with you, no problem. What you don't want to do is get hundreds of euros in advance. You may not be able to spend them all.

Posted by
365 posts

I just purchased from my Bank of America 470 euros for $500.00 I am hoping that will be all of the euros I will need for 2 people for 2 weeks. I will rely on my credit cards and debit card. Purchasing it in the states may be a few dollars more but I do not want to use time looking for banks etc. I have it and that's it :)

Lorie

Posted by
10176 posts

The € is now below the dollar. Wait and use an ATM. You'll need very little cash, no matter what. It's more important that you have more than one card from more than one bank, both credit and debit. Always have a backup.

Posted by
5581 posts

We have never searched for an ATM. At the start of our trip or when we start to run low, we make a mental note to watch for an ATM during the day. They are fairly plentiful.

Posted by
4802 posts

There have always been 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, waiting to access it, the stress of hoping it works (they do occasionally malfunction), and doing so 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
170 posts

I prefer getting Euros before I go. Ordering from Bank of America is easy if you have an account. It’s worth it in case something unexpected happens with my card.

Posted by
740 posts

Does RS really say to buy euros before your trip? No, he does not.
Bank of America rate s looks like 6%.
After all the repeat threads on here about CC use and avoiding ATM fees and conversions, is that a better deal?
Are you good with 6% just to use your own money?
There is nothing you can possible need that can’t be covered by a CC. Or, failing that, going to a local ATM.

Posted by
5581 posts

We've had trips in which we haven't even used the equivalent of 100USD in cash. Our last couple trips to Italy, most recently Sicily, we only used about 60Euro in cash, for a almost 4 week trip, except for the one inn that wanted cash.

I would have been upset had I gotten 200+ euro in advance from home at a poor exchange rate and barely used it. Except for bus fare, we could get by, if we had to, with credit cards.

Posted by
2661 posts

If it makes people less stressed to have cash on hand before they travel, who does that hurt? I don’t understand the need to have everyone do things what one considers “the right way.” Do what makes you comfortable.

While credit cards are more frequently used, I haven’t heard of anyone refusing cash. You can certainly pay with cash if you want to. I’m sure my ice cream guy in Wengen, Switzerland was happy I paid in cash for my 3CHF ice cream. Keep in mind businesses are charged a processing fee when credit cards are used. And most pay bathrooms still require cash.

I’m happy if people want to pay with cash or pay with credit card. The important thing is to get out there and spend money to help some of these struggling businesses.

Posted by
6508 posts

We always have some cash. On my recent Spain trip I could have gone the entire trip using a CC, but had a bunch of Euros l got in Sicily before Covid that I wanted to use. Nobody complained when I used cash. We only came across three places that were cash only.

Posted by
3100 posts

Canadian banks don't require you to let them know where you will be traveling to any more.
The Royal Bank of Canada doesn't , anyway; not sure about the others.
You can still let them know if it makes you feel more secure.

Posted by
504 posts

In Bologna right now and took 600€ out of an ATM today. Looking at the pending transaction from my bank the charge is $607.44. The slip from the ATM didn’t list any fees so we’ll see when it posts as final what the cost is. That part was surprising as I didn’t get any fee notices on any screen, but typically I get the bank fees back at the end of the statement cycle.

Rate on XE tonight says this 600€ withdrawal was $600.17 so between ATM fees and any bank “skim” it cost me $7.27 or 1.21 per 100€.

Posted by
4385 posts

oh really? Remind me not to travel with you

There is nothing you can possible need that can’t be covered by a CC

Posted by
1056 posts

@treemoss2. I just got back from Italy yesterday. While it is true that most things are payable with a credit card, whether it is tap or insert and sign, there are many things that are not, particularly those that cost €10 or less. This is not a matter of preference on the part of the seller, but a matter that their machines often do not accept a credit card use under €10. I found this to be true buying small things like gelato or taking cab rides under €10. It’s always wise to have some cash to do this.

Posted by
740 posts

Per the above post. I said failing that (use of CC) go to an ATM. I do that. I always have some cash.
However, the original post was in regards to buying Euros before leaving on his trip. To keep this in context.

Posted by
297 posts

We always buy some Euros at our bank in the states. Especially now with the exchange rate being equal. That way you will have some ready Euros for trains, taxi, and cappuccinos. When you need more, use the ATM with a card that doesn't have foreign exchange fees. We also only use ATM from banks or credit unions. Never use a third party ATM.

Posted by
17 posts

Like most contributors to this discussion, I usually get a couple of hundred foreign currency when I travel in order to avoid the exchange rate and transaction fees and the stress I get looking for a bank that’s in network with Bank of America. I hate to pay ATM machine’s and my banks fees.
I have signed up for a RS tours to Rome spring of 2023 so am researching. Rick Steve, does say it’s easy to get euros in Italy and to get from ATMs and not the foreign currency exchange locations at the airports.

Bank of America has banks in Rome that are in their network so we pay only one fee. This is my understanding from what I have read on their site. As per the BOA site, if I decide to get Euros in the US there is no fee but there’s a $7.50 shipping charges even if we opt to pick the cash up from one of the bank locations.
If I opt to get euros from one their network banks, there is $6.00 fee. I plan to talk to someone in the bank to confirm this.
I think I will be getting Euros from BOA in the US. For saving $1.50, I don’t want to be stressed looking for a bank in Rome. You can google the banks’ addresses but it is still stressful for me to find the bank as a solo traveler and I need to find time away from the tour to venture out to the bank.

I plan to use my Capital One CC for major purchases and cash for other small market purchases.

Posted by
265 posts

Always Have about 150 euros to put in the "next trip" folder. Covers the taxi/subway/bus. Replenish as needed first couple days at an ATM. Easy peasy.

Posted by
504 posts

With the exchange rate, you always take your chances. I had to laugh at those who seem to be claiming to know/predict what the exchange rate will be in September. It's anyone's guess. As is always the case, it could drop, stay the same, or rise. As someone who had to deal with this for many years as part of my work, I always told my colleagues that if I could predict the exchange rate, I'd be a very wealthy individual.