I will be traveling to Italy the end of Sept/beg. of Oct. I just use a local credit union that does not provide Euros, they told me to go to a federally insured bank. I checked with Bank of America and US Bank, but they all state you need to have an account there. Is it best to do that, open an account to get Euros ahead, or any other ideas? Thanks in advance!
Will you local credit union debit card work in Europe? First off, it is not critical to have Euro in hand prior to arriving. There will be ATMs in the airline that will give you local currency. It is nice to have a few Euro in hand when land so that finding an ATM is not the first thing you have do but a lot of folks do it that way. Second, you can buy a few Euro from an Am Express office, AAA, or even a currency exchange at the airport. It will not be cheap for a 100E or so, not that big a deal either.
The credit union stated they charge a 2% fee on every transaction. Is it better to get Euros there? My Sister stated she could get Euros from her bank for us at no charge. I thought about going with all cash to avoid fees there and fees with debit/credit cards and just my credit/debit as backup. I plan on a money belt to strap to myself at all times, but that might not be smart to go with all cash?
my wife has a washington state employee credit union card works fine. just get money when arrive is ok, but you do want to have a 2nd bank card as back up. we had a couple of times in paris and bucharest her card didn't work, but my bank of america card works ok.
There's lots of helpful info here: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/money-travel-tips.htm
Hi Kerri. Some people, myself included, like to bring some local currency so that we don't have to bother with an ATM right off the plane. I like to bring 100 euros with me. If you want to bring some cash to get started, by all means ask your sister to get euros for you. I also take 2 credit cards (one is my primary card, a Capital One Visa with no international fees) which I use for bigger purchases like hotel rooms and expensive souvenirs like books at museum shops. How much cash are you thinking about going with? I wouldn't advise carrying around hundreds and hundreds of euros, even in a money belt. If you're worried about the transaction fee, withdraw your maximum daily amount of money from an ATM so that you use ATMs as little as possible. But honestly, that fee is pretty miniscule when you add up the expense of a trip to Europe these days.
I've gone to Italy with all cash (euros) and had no problems. However, I would recommend using a credit or debit card if you feel more comfortable, and just get started with some euros from AAA. Remember to notify your bank/credit union and credit card companies that you will be incurring charges in Europe so they won't decline your transaction because it seems like unusual activity. My plan for my next trip is to use ATMs rather than carry all cash (although I'll take some), and have my bank raise the daily cash withdrawal limit.
Only bring euros if you are uncomfortable arriving without any local currency. But the airports have ATMs. Always remember that a deal to change money for no fee will probably have a worse exchange rate. It costs banks money to change money and they don't give away their services for free. ATMs are almost always the best rate, even with the fee.
Thanks everyone so much!
Your credit union at 2% is a fair deal. Some credit unions charge less and banks often charge much more - closer to 5%. When your sister says her bank will get the Euro at no charge, what the bank really means at no EXTRA charge beyond the 5-10% marked up charge for the Euro. No charge or no fees means that the fee is buried in the exchange rate you pay. If the interbank rate is $1.45, could easily charge $1.53 to $1.57. You will pay a fee to exchange money anywhere. Historically credit unions have had the best fees.
Interesting, I never thought about that. Thank you Frank!