Where is the best place and exchange rate in sarasota, florida to buy euros?
Jerry, have a look at Rick's "Plan Your Trip" | "Travel Tips". Here are two direct links: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/cash-machine-atm-tips.htm http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/cash-currency-tips.htm
Use your ATM card when you get to Europe.
Call the banks. The best rate I have found from a bank is 5% at Wells Fargo. Still about double of what you would pay in Europe using a debit card at a bank owned ATM. Without question, the cheapest and most convenient way to obtain local currency is a debit card.
No place in the US will give you a "good" exchange rate. So plan to obtain most of your euro from the ATM in Europe. But many people like to have some cash on arrival. So find a bank that sells them and is convenient for you. Then just buy no more than $200 worth to have in your pocket as you get off the plane. Be sure to notify your bank and credit cards of your trip so they don't put a hold on your cards.
Again, Wells Fargo if you must start with some (I'd get a few hundred Euro; they'll let you choose the denominations, either in person or online/overnight mail). But for daily spending money, definitely depend upon ATMs. Just be sure to notify your bank(s) when and where you'll be traveling, or you will be withdrawing nada :-(
We always try and come HOME with 100-200 euros to start off our next trip.
Following up on Nan's reply, do you know anyone who has been to the Eurozone recently, and may have leftover Euros to sell you? If so, you can get a much better rate from them than from any US bank. Or, you can promise to bring back the same number of euros for them (just make an extra trip to the ATM before leaving).
There is more good information here:
There is a guy in my Roll Call on Cruise Critic for my trans-atlantic cruise. He contacts a flight school in his area (FL) - they get a lot of European students who arrive with pockets full of euros. He buys his euros form the students - I think he recently paid about 1.25. I thought it was pretty creative.
Use your ATM card when you get off the plane in Europe. Way better rate than you'll receive anywhere on this side of the pond. Keep your leftovers when you finish your trip and you'll be all the more set when you head back. And yes, you WILL head back...
I probably take the most unsophisticated route. I'm never quite confident that I'm going to be comfortable immediately using an ATM machine a few minutes after arriving at a strange (to me) airport, and I may choose to take a taxi to my hotel rather than a cheaper train or bus. So I get an initial supply of "pocket money" Euros ($100 to $150 worth) and use cash machines thereafter to pick up just enough pocket cash for one, two or three days (keeping all but $10 to $30 in a money belt). I opened a credit union credit card account solely for the purpose of drawing my every two or three days' currency. I know everyone else uses debit cards (as I do at home for groceries, etc), but I'm always concerned that some European pickpocket would have potentially devastating access to my checking account and my cash could be reduced to zero very quickly. I'd much rather recover, if I had to, from credit card fraud. I know there are cash advance charges but by using a lower-cost credit union card and only cash-machining every three days I manage to minimize this cost and I view it as an acceptable trip expense. I use only cash for restaurant bills and small purchases and charge with my card only for hotel bills. My conservative approach does not minimize my costs but minimizes my discomfort.
In the thousand of postings on this subject, no one has ever reported their checking account being drained by a debit card. If a pickpocket did get your debit card, how can they use it without your pin number? The only risk to a debit card is the phoney ATMs that can obtain both your card number and pin number. And it is pretty easy to avoid potentially rigged ATMs. So I don't know how using a credit card at an ATM increases your security other than perhaps some peace of mind because you perceive a greater security. We have been solely dependent on debit cards for the pass 15 years with no problems. Using debit cards for cash at an ATM is very safe and convenient with normal precautions.