Please sign in to post.

BofA app - order foreign currency

Just FYI I got a notification through the Bank of America app today you can order foreign currency through it, and either pick it up at one of their banks or even have it delivered to your home address.

Various conditions apply, as they always do - exchange rate wasn't the greatest, fee for shipping, minimum and maximum amounts, so on so forth. Seeing as some here do enjoy being able to get ahold of currency at home before leaving on a trip, though, figured it could be worth sharing. It's possible other banks (Wells Fargo, or Chase perhaps?) offer similar service through their mobile app or website.

Posted by
7143 posts

On top of the bad exchange rate, they charge a fee. You can order them online if you do online banking, you don’t need to have the app.

I get my € at a bank (that’s affiliated with BofA - BNP Paribas / Deutsche Bank / Barclay’s) ATM when i get to my destination. But this is a good tip for those who feel more comfortable getting € here.

Posted by
203 posts

Yes, you can order foreign currency from the Wells Fargo App. The minimum amount is $200. The currency can be delivered to your home with signature required. I usually just go down to my WF Branch and get the foreign currency directly. We've done this with Euros and British Sterling. Our branch has those foreign currencies in stock. We had to order Australian and NZ dollars and those were delivered to the house.
IF you are a Wells Fargo PMA member, there is no cost for the service and the exchange rate wasn't bad. Two days ago the published international rate for US to British sterling was $1.22. WF charged us $1.26. I think the .04 cent difference is worth it to have some foreign currency in hand before we arrive.

Once we arrive, we do not use WF ATM's because the foreign use fees are outrageous. Instead we have a Capitol One 360 ATM card which we can use at Allpoint labeled ATM's without a fee or other major bank ATMs with a small access fee.

Posted by
291 posts

Once we arrive, we do not use WF ATM's because the foreign use fees are outrageous.

It's funny you mention this because as unappealing as the exchange rate offered through the app is to me, it's actually not all that bad compared to the costs of using the Bank of America debit card I have overseas. Using the BofA debit card brings with it a 3% foreign transaction fee, and at ATMs I'd not only pay that fee but also additional out-of-network ATM fees (I don't use my BofA card when traveling, and use the debit card from a different bank that doesn't charge those fees overseas). If I only had BofA, it might actually be appealing to use this foreign currency ordering service.

Thanks for sharing that Wells Fargo does the same! Again, while it doesn't quite appeal to me some of the folks who prefer stepping off the plane with foreign currency in-hand may find it useful!

Posted by
3279 posts

Chase doesn't appear to have currency ordering in their app at the moment, but they constantly update it so may appear eventually. You can get foreign currency at every Chase branch if you have an account with them. Their rate is 10% over what you get at a no fee ATM in your destination country for major currencies and slightly higher for lesser known currencies.

My Capital One card is useable at any ATM and I never get charged any fee by them. Allpoint is nice to look for while in the US if I need cash since nearly every ATM in the US charges fees to non account holders, but so far I have found no benefit to Allpoint outside the US.

Posted by
12099 posts

The exchange is now $1.11 to one Euro. When it was at that rate last time, I went to BofA to get 1100 Euro. BofA offered me a rate of $1.17. I took it, it's a decent rate, no fees charged for this transaction at all.

Now that 1100 Euro is liquid, I went to the bank to pick it up when they called me that the order had arrived...took a few days, no problems at all. The bills were in 20 and 50 Euro denominations, just the way I want them.

Posted by
5704 posts

We do not get charged fees by Wells Fargo for using our ATM abroad. If a fee is charged, it is refunded immediately.

Posted by
2766 posts

Have you read the RS article on "Cash and Currency Tips" listed in the lower right hand corner of the Travel Forum home page?
I have gone to Europe for 16 of the last 18 years and have never gotten any European currency in the US. I have always waited until I get to the airport of my destination country to use a debit card to get local currency from an ATM machine making sure that the ATM machine is affiliated with one of the companies shown on the back of my debit card and not connected to any private or currency exchange company which charges fees and gives poor exchange rates. I do have to pay a 1% fee to my credit union to which I have been a member for 50 years but I have never used an ATM in Europe that has fees charged by the ATM owner.

Posted by
372 posts

We tend to wait till we get to Europe and take them out at an ATM. If you read Rick Steves EUROPE THROUGH THE BACK DOOR (which is amazing and I think everyone should read it) - this is what he recommends. BUT, if you are an AAA member - we have gotten them from AAA too - super easy and the best deal we have found.

Posted by
3136 posts

BoA will make a fortune off those who fear arriving at the airport destination and not wanting to use one of the bank cash machines.

If anyone wants to give BoA or any other bank their money to pad their profit lines, go for it! We would never, ever do this.

And we are BoA customers! 😉

Posted by
5498 posts

I follow the Rick Steves getting local cash advice of using a local ATM after arriving. But it is a bit unfair to say that the Big Banks "pad their profit" with the fees and/or less than favorable exchange rates when you buy foreign currency from a home bank. The banks have a cost of acquiring foreign currency, the time value expense of holding cash, and the administrative cost of disturbing the currency at a retail scale. We all have the choice of buying foreign currency locally because having cash in pocket is a comfort thing, or waiting until we are feet on the ground in some foreign land to get the foreign currency at a lower cost. It's called free market capitalism.

Posted by
135 posts

Nowadays there’s no need to carry a lot of cash. I was in Amsterdam, Riga and Dublin in May and the only reason I sometimes paid with cash was because I had it with me - I always get it from ATM at the end of my last day in Europe to have ready for the next trip.
I mainly used my credit card with no foreign transaction fee ( from Chase or Bank of America) either handing a card to the merchant or using it virtually on my phone. I didn’t really need cash, maybe for ice cream or tips.

Posted by
12099 posts

I get the cash now as a reserve from BofA when the official rate is very good, now at $1.11, when the rate offered by BofA is decent enough ($1.17) in contrast to getting Euro if and when the $ gets weaker ,( hopefully not), to having the official rate stand at $1.18 or $1.20. That is not a favourable the time withdraw it over there from your debit card

Posted by
10797 posts

A good general rule is if you are flying economy and all you have with you for a two week trip is a 7kg under seat bag you will want to open an account at a bank with no foreign transaction fee on their ATM cards, and get a credit card with travel points, then get all your cash when you arrive in Europe. There is usually an ATM near the place that sells the public transportation tickets (to get to your Hostel)

If you check a bag and sit in at least Premium Economy or Economy Plus on at least the transatlantic flight, even if only once in your life, then it never hurts to get a few hundred euro from BoA in advance. If you are going some place like Ukraine or Bulgaria a few hundred dollars equivalent in local money might provide quite a bit of peace of mind. Now you can wait and look for an ATM after the taxi gets you to the hotel. Let's see? Hmmmm, a 3% fee? $6 for peace of mind. Skip the coffee at Starbucks on the way to the airport and call it even.

Posted by
6171 posts

App or no app, it's still a "no go" for me. Banks obviously want to make it as easy as possible to make costly decisions, so there will "be an app for that". I have never gotten foreign currency ahead of any trip, no matter where I'm going.

Posted by
12099 posts

@ James...The incentives in getting the Euro from BofA are that there is no fee if one takes out a min of 1,000 Euro and the current rate. Of course, it could even go lower, but at $1.11, that's incentive enough when I was used to seeing it above $1.24.

If I don't have an immediate trip planned and the official rate happens to be something like $1.08 or $1.10, I can expect BofA to offer $1.17 at best. That's incentive enough. Now, if a fee were charged even with an one thousand Euro withdrawal, I wouldn't take advantage of it...no dice.

One can always use the remaining Euro for the next trip as I always do anyway. I'm not concerned about carrying too much cash, however that is defined, either getting "picked" or getting jacked in the streets American style.

It's not going to happen

Posted by
10797 posts

Fred, If I spent more time in Euro countries I would do it. My point was more about inconsistencies in thought processes. People who drink Starbucks coffee, or live in California for that matter, getting so judgmental over someone else paying $3 for the convenience of having $100 in emergency cash, or cab fare, in their pocket.

Posted by
6171 posts

People are spending thousands of dollars on a trip and worrying about
a few dollars in fees. Come on folks.

It doesn't matter if the trip is worth $30 or $300 or $3,000, spending money on things that you don't value just doesn't make sense. If you value additional (psychological) "comfort" from ordering ahead of time and are willing to pay the premium, then great. If you don't (I'm in that boat), then that's fine too. I'd be happy to not use cash at all if I could, like in Iceland.

Posted by
6171 posts

The problem with exchange is it's not 6 or 7 cents you are talking 2
or 3 cents.

Source? I don't know where this comes from. A typical exchange rate markup can easily be north of 7% when you factor everything in.

Posted by
5498 posts

While it's clear that ATM on arrival is the most cost effective choice, the question is the security of FS cash in pocket on arrival vs convenience. While ordering FX cash for home delivery may or may not be easier, sticking a card in the arrival airport ATM and getting a couple hundred in value is easy for me.

Just wondering how BofA delivers the cash to your home. Do they require a signature or do they just drop the parcel on your door step (or mail box) if you are not home?

Posted by
12099 posts

Totally agree, James, as regards to the inconsistencies. I'm not concerned about a little increase in the BofA rate vis-a-vis the official rate I see listed in the WSJ and then I'm quite willing to spend four bucks on a Latte at Starbucks. In that case deprive yourself of that Latte.

No problem for me, Starbucks isn't getting my business anyway since I don't drink Latte.

Posted by
10797 posts

Actually the best rate those with cards can hope to get is the rate Visa uses, which is the same BoA uses so the difference really is just a few dollars on $100.

Odd thing happened, I tried to use my debit card day before yesterday and it didnt work. Plenty of money in the bank. Took me a few hours to get it fixed. Earlier this week my daughter had a similar problem because fraud was detected on her card. Until she got a new card she had to call to clear each purchase.

Fortunately we both had a little cash.

Posted by
12099 posts

Certainly not an enviable position to be in. The fraud case reminds me of the BofA commercial I heard a few years back while standing in line that went something like this: You're vacationing in Hawaii and you get this alert from BofA saying that a charge for XX dollars was made on your credit card in Ohio. A similar situation happened to the Mrs when we were in Memphis in 2014 from Wells Fargo saying a charge had been made on her card in Amsterdam. (It could have been anywhere!) She was on the phone too trying to clear that up.

Posted by
3279 posts

I am not against banks earning money for the services they provide. However, if one bank wants to charge me for the service and another bank doesn't, which bank am I going to use? The one that doesn't charge me a fee or an exchange rate markup or whatever you want to call it.

At the 7 cents a Euro markup of BofA or the 10% markup at Chase vs. getting money at no fee from an ATM in Europe, I can buy a couple of coffees in a Vienna coffee shop and break even when I use the no fee account to get money from. I just would rather spend my money on things I like spending money on. I don't like spending money on bank fees.

Maybe someday I will get caught out where every single ATM at the airport is not working. With dozens in most airports, the possibility is nearly as impossible as winning the lottery. With more and more options to use a credit card, my need for cash is less than ever. I can still buy a Tube ticket in London, or pay for a taxi in Paris with no cash of any kind on me and at least get started on my trip.

Posted by
10797 posts

Mark, my problem wasn’t with the ATM, it was with the bank freezing the card because they didn’t like how I used it that day. A little too much caution. My daughter didn’t have trouble with an ATM, someone in another city was using her number and the bank just froze her card as well. Two examples, two different banks; one BoA, one BBVA. So in this case Mark, you could try a 1000 ATMs and none would work.

So, just so I would be better informed I went to both the Visa site and the BoA site. Yes, 100 euro delivered to my front door in 1-3 business days does indeed cost $3.61 more than just using an ATM card in, say France. That is if the ATM machine I use doesn’t charge me a fee (my BoA card has no foreign transaction fee).

VISA (this is also the ATM rate): 100 euro = $111.18 if you pay no
foreign transaction fees

BOA (delivered to your door in 1 to 3 business days) 100 euro =
$114.79

Premium for exchanging 100 euro in the states $3.61

For me the whole exercise is just that, an exercise. Sometime I get money, like a trip to Kyiv where I know the taxi will cost half as much in hryvnia than it will in any other currency and credit cards are not always an option. Sometimes I fly with nothing but a few hundred in USD for emergencies, knowing that in an emergency if I can’t use my credit card or debit card, a curb side exchange rate will be expensive for me.

But to criticize someone because they feel more comfortable with $3.61 in insurance in their pocket is just plain nutz. For anyone to feel more learned because they don’t feel the need to carry a little local cash on the flight over, is also nutz.

Posted by
5498 posts

RE: ...the bank freezing the card because they didn’t like how I used it that day. A little too much caution.

Wife just got a text alert from Schwab about her Visa ATM card re: "unusual activity on card xxxx $174.99 at AllExpress,com, London". Apparently her Schwab card was recently compromised with transactions as small as $2.00. Schwab is reversing the charges, froze the card and is sending her a new card. I don't think that the text was "too much caution".

If we had been traveling out of country, our cell phones don't have service (other than Wifi). I would think that Scwab would have eventually locked the card if they didn't hear back about the unusual activity. Chips don't work for "card not present" transactions.

Posted by
291 posts

I'm a big believer in people being able to do things differently, without it having to mean they're doing something wrong.

I'm perfectly fine using only cards, at home and abroad. I rarely, if ever, carry cash with me even in the US. Ordering cash through the mobile banking app and taking foreign currency with me abroad would be entirely unusual and out of the ordinary for me, in no small part because using cash at all is out of the ordinary and requires breaking some habits. I'm not going to fault folks who feel comfortable having some cash in hand, though, or get ahold of some before their travels as a matter of routine. Different strokes for different folks, and it's reasonable to assume they've had some experiences that make that the worthwhile way to go about things for them!

Posted by
203 posts

Maybe someday I will get caught out where every single ATM at the airport is not working. With dozens in most airports, the possibility is nearly as impossible as winning the lottery

then I must be very lucky. That's exactly what happened to travelers and just about everyone during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake in San Francisco. That event was my wake up call to carry cash. After the earthquake the power was out in many places and you couldn't use credit cards or bank ATM's. Since I had cash stashed away, I could pay for groceries if the store was open (though no indoor lighting) and had manual cash registers. The last thing I want to experience is no cash in a country that I don't speak the language. Just my two cents. (which I carry in my pocket.)

Posted by
6171 posts

If there is an earthquake or major disaster, having cash will still not get you far because commerce and any kind of business transactions will be upended for safety and liability reasons. Businesses aren't going to run with no power/water only to serve cash customers. Everyone will be in the same boat. If you have cash, you'll probably be fleeced by someone taking advantage of the situation.

Posted by
12099 posts

"That event was my wake up call to carry cash." How true. I was in SF at that time. Given an event, like an earthquake, I much rather have the cash handy than the alternative. I carry the cash. Likewise in Europe, especially in Germany

In SF and Oakland too, presumably, if you go to Asian stores, restaurants, take-outs, etc, especially Chinese ones, much more so than Japanese or Korean, you had better have cash on you since a lot of them have signs out front "Cash Only." in Chinatown, Little Saigon, in the Richmond and Sunset districts, etc. Now, if you're not in the habit of patronizing such businesses, then no problem.