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Money conversion

I have not been to Europe for 20 years when I took traveler's checks with me. Is this still the best way to go or is this now nor longer the way to go? Better to buy Euros here or there????

Posted by
8083 posts

adamajax on this webapge, look to the left and see the link for "Travel Tips" there is a link there for information on "Money." Bottom line is no, no one uses travelers checks, and no one will cash them for you. Best rates are from ATMS over there, not from currency exchange services.

Posted by
2625 posts

Don't BUY Euros, it costs money. Withdraw them from your own bank account with your ATM card. European banks are not allowed to charge fees for ATM withdrawals. The exchange rate will be the interbank rate plus somewhere up to 1%. Hopefully, your own bank is one that does not charge fees for ATM use. If an ATM machine (or a merchant's credit card machine) offers to do the transactions in dollars, refuse this convenience, as they will impose their own poorer exchange rate -it's only convenient for them. There are bank-owned and operated ATM machines all over the Netherlands. Traveler's checks are no longer of any use, no one will take them, among other issues they are easily counterfeited.

Posted by
4535 posts

Welcome to the 21st century :-) Just like you probably do at home, walk up to an ATM, put in your debit card, push a few buttons and presto, it gives you cash. Easy peasy!

Posted by
5828 posts

Avoid (or at least minimize) cash exchange. The financial industry
does a masterful job of hiding the fact that you lose money each time
you change it. On average, at a bank you lose 8 percent when you
change dollars to euros or another foreign currency. When you use
currency exchange booths such as Forex or Travelex at the airport, you
lose around 15 percent. If you must change cash in Europe, the postal
banks inside post offices usually have the best rate.

Don’t buy foreign currency in advance. Some tourists just have to have
euros or pounds in their pockets when they step off the airplane, but
smart travelers don’t bother and know better than to get lousy
stateside exchange rates. Wait until you arrive at your destination;
I’ve never been to an airport in Europe that didn’t have plenty of

Posted by
4396 posts

Well, basically 'no' and 'no'.

BUT...many of us do start our trips with ~200-300€ or so. Rick Steves may have never seen an airport that didn't have ATMs, but several people on just this forum have seen airport ATMs that didn't have MONEY. Unfortunately.

For most of the USA, Wells Fargo Bank has traditionally had the best deal concerning rates and fees. The last time I traveled, it seems like my 300€ from Wells Fargo cost me something like <$5 extra than using a European ATM. No big whoop. AND they've always let me choose the denominations of bills, too, YMMV. You'll do better by just using an ATM there, withdrawing the maximum amount allowed each time. But I really like not having to make my first stop in Europe all about finding an ATM. I can go straight from my airplane to the train station, metro ticket machine, taxi stand, café, or whatever. Now, I always use an ATM ASAP in case I discover my ATM card doesn't work (that's happened), or the ATMs in my area don't work for whatever reason (and that's happened). Then, I'd know to be very stingy with my cash, and use my credit cards whenever possible while getting the ATM problem worked out.

As far as travelers checks are concerned, it's increasingly difficult to find a bank that will cash them, and I don't know if there are any AMEX offices in Europe anymore; years ago, they were closing at an alarmingly fast rate.

Before returning to your home, be sure to bring home 200-300€ for your next trip. And bring home some 0.50-1.00€ 'toilette' coins so you can hit the ground running, potty-wise ;-)

Posted by
56 posts

I agree with Eileen. I always keep some extra euro (50 to 100, give or take) for the next trip. It's personal preference and probably not necessary, but I prefer to have some cash on hand when I land. The ATM advice above is spot on. I've never had a problem...but for peace of mind I like having a little with me upon arrival in case an ATM decides not to cooperate. Same as here at home!

Posted by
32069 posts


Don't use Traveller's Cheques! They're an antiquated relic of the past and as previous replies have mentioned, you could have trouble even finding somewhere to cash them (even at Banks).

My suggestion......

  • Obtain €50-100 at your local bank to use for travel funds until you get settled at your first stop.
  • After that use ATM's to obtain cash, as that provides the most favourable exchange rate. You'll need to check with your bank to determine which is your "primary account" (ie: the one that international withdrawals will be taken from). You may also want to review your daily withdrawal limit at the same time.
  • I find that it's a good idea to have a "backup" ATM card in case of problems with your main card (I've had that happen).
  • BE SURE to notify all of your financial institution and credit card firms that you'll be travelling overseas, so they don't "freeze" your cards when they detect transaction activity in Europe.