The exchange rate is getting higher by the day. We are going to France in mid-July by which time the euro will probably be higher than the current exchange rate ($1.57). Should we buy euro here (before it goes any higher) and if so where would we find the best rate---banks??
Don't try to predict the exchange rate. A twist of events could send the euro plunging against the dollar. The premium banks will charge to sell you euros could very likely outweigh the slight increase in the exchange rate you anticipate.
The cheapest and most convenient way to obtain foreign currency is a debit card at an ATM. The current exchange today was $1.48. Where are you getting !.57? Most banks will charge a premium of 5 to 10% if purchased in the US which means the Euro would have be greater than 1.55 to 1.61 before you would break even. The Euro may or may not continue to go higher. Remember it was 1.20 last year. And 1.60 two or three years ago. It is a gamble to purchase Euro in the US thinking it will be substantially higher -- it might and it might not. Like buying stock.
Elan Ditto above posters. One of my neighbors bought about a third of the Euros he needed for his European trip last year about 3 months early. Subsequently the Euro went down significantly. You may already know the advice I am about to give, but better to give it. I always recommend travelers exchange at least 200 euros pp prior to leaving for Europe. You want at least enough money to pay for your transportation from the airport to your hotel and for a meal or two. Your bank may have access to Euros but needs to order them in advance. Since you are in the Chicago area, you should have no problem. Then ATMs are the way to go. Also suggest you and your traveling companions bring different credit and debit cards, in case there is some fluky glitch with one of your cards. Advise your bank in advance where and when you will be going so they do not freeze your card. Chase Bank, for instance, makes me do this from the phone I have registered with my account. Have a wonderful France trip. Bobbie
Thank you all. I'll get some euro but not as much as I thought previously...
Might as well go to the casino and gamble your vacation money. Might double it, might lose it. Unless you are a currency or futures trader by day, stick with the ATM.
If you have some insight in where the Euro exchange rate is headed, especially for this coming August, would you be so kind as to let me know.
As far as having some for when you land, if you're planning on going back, just keep some at the end of this trip. We usually have somewhere between 20-50 euro at the end. It's enough to get us to an ATM if needed, but we haven't had any problem finding one in the airport.
Elan, Actually, I bank with Chase who, I would consider an obviously large and national bank, and they don't charge to exchange at branches. You of course, will be paying more in dollars just from the conversion, but the bank never tacked on any additional charges in the 3 times that I've exchanged money with them. (They also take money back, when you return) My advice would be to just take enough for expenses upon landing, and then find the nearest ATM. I echo the sentiment that they are always the best places---no additional fees and just purely conversion---to get money in Europe. Happy travels!
Bank of America sells currency as well, you purchase it online and then you can pick it up at the local branch of your choosing. I think they charge exactly 5% higher than the currency rates you read online (i.e oanda.com).
You can also "sell" them back at your local branch (at a loss of course) Just be sure to "small bills" you don't want to order 100euros and only get 1 single 100 euro note! That would defeat the purpose of ordering money ahead of time.
I would buy a small quantity of Euros before the trip (for safety sake, in case you're pressed for time on arrival and don't have time to search for the ATM) to use to buy bus, metro, or rail fare to your local destination. Then, once settled, I'd visit an ATM machine. One reason not to convert money here is that you will be producing documents (passport, tickets) throughout your trip over and on arrival...All the shuffling with papers and airport security measures may cause you to lose currency by accident. Oh, I had a bit of a surprise in Budapest (which does not use the Euro) when I visited the ATM machine. The text on the opening screen was Hungarian...no flags at the page bottom from which to select a language. I learned that after one inserts the credit card, the screen changes to one that displays flags that represent different languages. I had never encountered this before, so do be ready for periodic surprises.
I take a few hundred in Euros, cash, and then dip into the ATM as I need money while there. You will get the best exchange rate at an ATM. Buying ahead of time is a BIG gamble, and more expensive, as I have seen large swings in the exchange rate in just a month's time. You might be doing yourself a disservice by purchasing ahead of time, and personally, I don't like to carry big wads of cash on me while abroad.
Lately, the euro has been dropping by the day. You'll NEVER know which way it's going, so I would take just enough euros to get you around the airport and to your first destination (this is why I always save my euros from my last trip), then hit an ATM (I use the one at the airport) when you arrive and withdraw a few hundred euros. I revisit ATMS every few days and reload.
Domestic exchange fees are killers, so it's best to get your euros over there. Have fun!
Another point of view: I go to Europe every summer and do not take any foreign currency with me. I get whatever I need at my destination airport using a DEBIT card drawing from my CHECKING account from an ATM machine. I have never been stressed out looking for said ATM machines nor have I ever had trouble finding lots of them. Different strokes for different folks.
141.49 today. It's dropping and hopefully will continue to.
Euro / US Dollar FX...(EUR=X) 1.4204 0.0002 (+0.01%%)
I'll add to everyone else who says to simply use an ATM when you arrive. I always have some pocket money left over from other trips that I bring with me, however, for things like transportation and a bit of food if I need it. Regarding exchange rates - sometimes you get burned, and sometimes you don't. I've been traveling to Europe long enough to remember when the dollar was actually worth more than the Euro, which hasn't been the case for awhile. Just chalk it up to the cost of traveling. PS. Funny how there's a relatively large Chicago-area presence in this thread.
I find that with a little work-ebay is my best bet for euros. A lot of people have a handful of Euros they bring back and forget to exchange. I check ebay a couple times a day starting 2-3 months before a trip. We leave next month on a trip and our average cost per euro is several percent under the noncommissioned exchange rate. Obviously you need to only buy from trustworthy sellers, and verify the authenticity when they arrive through inspection, checksums, and possibly a counterfeit pen if you have one for euros. But we save quite a bit this way for long trips. And I'm insured against risk of currency fluctuation. Worst case scenario, the euro falls enough to where I break even (has never happened). Best case scenario, the euro jumps and I come out even better. Use a miles credit card and pay it off right away to make the purchases and the deal gets sweeter getting you miles for your next trip.
Ken, it sounds like your problem is specific to your bank. I have been using a Capital One ATM card for 4 years throughout Europe, Asia and Australia/New Zealand. I always notify them by secure message through their website of my travel dates and destinations. The only problem I've encountered is that they go offline for a few hours very early on Sunday mornings for maintenance and then I can't make withdrawals.
I am leaving for Europe on July 30th and was told by my friend I am staying with in Switzerland and France that based on what you will get and fees you will incur if you exchange in Europe via ATM will be worse. I have been exchanging currency with Chase Bank with no fees and Swiss Francs are currently at 1.08 and Euros is currently at 1.29. I'd advise for anyone to just do it here in the states, and specifically at a bank like Chase who will not charge you a fee rather than using an ATM in Europe.
The Interbank rate is currently $1.22259/€ (checked at 7:18 AM PDT 21 JUL 2012 on Oanda.com). The rate you quoted, $1.29, is 5.5% above the Interbank rate. You can get about the same rate, $1.2893/€, at a Wells Fargo main branch today. I use a local bank here in Denver that charges me 1% over the Interbank rate plus $2.50 for using an out of system ATM (about 1.5% total). I also have a high balance account at Wells that gives me two completely free European ATM transactions/month, but after that it's what most customers pay, 3% plus $5 (about 4%). I used to use Chase, and they charged the same as Wells. Chase does advertise some fee-less credit cards, but not fee-less ATM cards, and using a credit card at an ATM will incur cash advance fees and immediate interest. Using ATMs over there is less expensive than getting cash over here.
I had such a ton of trouble accessing my money in Paris that I'm now thinking just taking a huge wad of Euros from home is a better tack. Yes, you'll get a lousy rate, but at least you will have cash in hand. Before anyone asks, yes, I did notify my bank and credit card companies of my travel dates.
I've never had any trouble accessing my money at ATMs in Germany. Instead of changing how you get money, consider changing where you travel.
Ken, I'm also following your other post about your Andrews card. Did you experience trouble with other ATM cards attached to other banks? This is our first trip in 5 years and the very first time ever we'd planned to completely rely on ATMs and not take a HUGE wad of Euros with us. Sorry for your troubles but thank you for sharing your experiences to help others.
#2 - You fell for a common marketing scheme amongst money exchangers: advertising "no fees." Except the exchange rate you get more than makes up the difference with no fees. The truth is that to exchange actual hard currency costs someone money - and so everyone that does it passes that cost along to you. The for-profit exchangers charge even more so they can earn a living. The cheapest way to get local currency will always be from the ATM, no matter what your bank charges in fees. The following is a helpful comparison based on the actual interbank exchange rate: exchange agency (10% +) > Travelex cash passport (10%) > pre-purchase in US (5-10%) > standard bank ATM fees (2-5%) > credit union/no fee banks ATM (1%)
If everything is in order, there should be no trouble accessing your money from an ATM or bank. I never had any problems in either France OR Germany. With a credit card getting that accepted was even easier in Germany if the establishment took it.
Lee, thanks. Going to Germany is something I want to do very much, but I happened to be in France at the time. Someday, I hope. Despite my phoning Andrews before I left to let them know my specific travel dates and details, my card still got flagged and frozen while in Paris. I was able to call the Brussells office of the bank, which said they would fix it. A couple of days later I again had difficulty and again called Andrews. Apparently, someone else had again flagged my card after my previous phone call. I cannot say many positive things about the way Andrews operates. My difficulty was just using the card at ATMs. Every shop or restaurant I used it at, the card worked and I signed. Shop around on the Web and locally for Euros. The current rate is under $1.22 and falling, but companies tack other fees on. If it makes sense in your case, I suggest having most of your Euros before leaving.
Neat! Is Capital One a PIN and chip card?
This is really an old posting over a year old that #2 woke up. And now Elan, original poster, is getting all those notifications of answers to her original question of 4/11. It is good practice to check the dates of the original post before putting up an answer that may be out of date.
The original question may be old, but updated information might still be helpful for anyone intrigued by the topic. So, I would encourage anyone with recent experience to continue to reply. We completed out third trip last September. We've used Capitol One and never had any problems.We took cash to cover everything the first trip, but tried the ATM a couple of times just to see if there were problems and had none. On the last trip, we started charging more and more on Capitol One instead of using cash and enjoyed getting the extra points for future travel. We recently bought more euros at AAA/Wells Fargo when the rate went to $1.29. Looks even better now at $1.22, but we couldn't predict that it would go down further. If you are going to use cash, I definitely would get it here before you travel.