i think i read in one of mr. steves' books that you should take several hundred dollars to italy when traveling there but a friend of mine told me that even banks charge fees for converting dollars to euros. she suggested using a credit card at a bank upon arrival. is this a better idea?
NO, definitely DO NOT use a credit card (unless you are independently wealthy, and own the bank). Use your ATM card at a bank affiliated with your US bank. If you have an account at B of A, see my post in the Graffiti Wall under ATM's.
paula, While US dollars may be of some use if you have nothing else, I wouldn't bother taking any to Italy. You'll still have to get them converted to Euros, and the exchange rate is not likely to be favourable. Many smaller places will be reluctant to accept them, as it will mean extra work for them. I agree with the first reply - using a credit card to obtain a cash advance is NOT a good idea and will be very costly. The easiest way to obtain local currency in Europe is with an ATM card tied to your chequing account (assuming that's your primary account). In most cases, you won't have a choice between chequing and savings when using Euro ATM's. Cheers!
Just to play it safe, we take $100 (in 20's) with no intention of exchanging them except as a worst case scenerio. Also, when we arrive back in the states, it's nice to have a little cash, so if we stop at a Starbucks or gas station on the way home from the airport, so we don't have to charge $3.00 for a cup of coffee or bottle of water.
Here's where you might have read that: Cash and Currency Here's what he says: Bring along some US dollars. While you won't use it for day-to-day purchases, American cash in your money belt comes in handy for emergencies, such as when banks go on strike or your ATM card stops working. I carry several hundred US dollars as a backup (in denominations of easy-to-exchange 20s or less bulky 50s, though don't bring 100s -- popular with counterfeiters and not always accepted for exchange). I've been in Greece and Ireland when every bank went on strike, shutting down without warning. But hard cash is hard cash. People always know roughly what a dollar is worth, and you can always sell it.
Just take a few bucks if you want to eat at the US airports or use your credit card. Use the first ATM in Europe you can and draw as much money as you can, or draw as much as you feel your going to need, so you can skip too many fees. If you ever run out or are getting ready to run out of cash use a credit card. Yes you'll probably get a transaction fee, but you can get out of tight situation. Come on what do you do at home? They have the same needs we have, they just speak a different language, drive like maniacs, and wear their clothes tighter, but they have the same money issues. Do the same there, but remember there will be a conversion and a transaction fee. Don't forget to call your bank and let them know when your going to be using your ATM and credit card in Europe.
Honestly, listen to me!!! ONLY bring enough US$ to take care of getting to the airport of your departure in the US, and enough to get from the US airport of your arrival to home maybe $100 extra! You will get a horrible exchange rate exchanging dollars to Euro in any establishment in Europe, including banks. I usually get EU from my bank at home which charges a reasonable exchange rate plus a $15.00 fee for unlimited EU. (If you're an American Express Card holder, they also provide this service for a reasonable amount, and a reasonable exchange rate) I bring more EU than many people, because I usually rent an apartment and need to pay cash on arrival, but you may want to get several hundred EU at home to cover the costs of arrival which must be paid in cash, such as taxi, bus or train to your hotel destination. My husband and I usually each carry half of the EU cash, just in case but so far have never been robbed or lost the cash. Use ATMS in Europe, not CREDIT CARD withdrawals! There's a big difference on fees. Most importantly, Make sure your credit card companies and the bank you're using the ATMS from know that you will be using these cards in Europe well ahead of time, 1 month to 2 weeks. At this time, ask you bank what fees they charge for ATM withdrawals internationally. Insofar as strikes go, I've never encountered one, but I have made the mistake of bringing like $1 thousand US cash with me, and have suffered the hideous exchange rate to change my dollars into Europe, and never, ever again! I use credit cards whenever possible for hotels, restaurants, etc., and save my cash for cafes, taxis and panini places.