currency

We are moving to Germany for 11 weeks. Is it better for us to purchase Euros in the US or wait until we get to Munich?

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

Getting money from an ATM at your destination is the cheapest, easiest way to get euros. If you need a large amount, like for an apartment rental, you might need to order some from your local bank before you go.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Moving to Germany permanently or do you mean you are just staying for 11 weeks? For just visiting for 11 weeks just use your ATM card.. no need to purchase in States , why would you want to take thousands of euros with you???

Posted by Kathy
Germany, Germany
800 posts

To start, get a few hundred Euro to get you through the airport and first day you are here. You don't want to have to find an ATM the minute you get off the plane because you want to buy food or have to pay for a taxi, etc. The second point is visiting for a few months with the possibility of staying longer. The company which is sponsoring you in country should point you in the direction of a local bank where you can open a local bank account the first week you are here. How much you drop in the bank depends on....are you paying rent/utilities and the like on your own or is the company providing housing with everything included? If you're paying rent, you'll need more obviously, if you just want spending money, you can wire in enough to get you through your travels and daily life. Opening a local account is great since you'll be able to get an EC card--the credit card widely accepted across Europe. Good luck and have fun!

Posted by Laura
Townsend, Massachuse, United States
2 posts

We are being relocated by my husbands company for the summer. There is a possibility we will stay. My husband believes we get a better exchange rate by purchasing in the US. Is there a big difference? I am concerned about buying a large amount in US and then having them lost or stolen.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

Tie your husband to a computer. Have him read the many times this question has been answered with the same results. Or just tell him he's dead wrong.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

The ATM advice presumes you have a card that does not charge access fees. Ours. Does not and it works very well. No added fees, whereas a bank may charge a handling fee to " sell" you euros.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Laura you husband may be thinking that way because we all know how expensive it is to buy currency from currency exchange booths, but nowadays every just uses their debit cards at an ATM and withdraws cash.. pretty simple. You make sure your bank knows you are out of country ( other wise they may "freeze your ATM and Credit Cards if they see "foreign activity") and you have them raise your daily limit ( so you can withdraw more cash at once for less visits) . I am not sure about Germany but in France the banks ATMs do not charge us a fee for withdrawals, so fees will come from your bank. My bank does not charge me any fees ( other then conversion) because I have a certain type of account. You should find out what your bank offers and change banks if the fees are excessive. You hubby is wrong. Its pretty simple. Now you have to figure you how to convince him, that's sometimes not so simple. good luck.

Posted by Thomas
Vienna, Austria
502 posts

Laura, I agree with the views of the others. IF you find out that you are going to stay in Germany beyond the summer, there are about a zillion things to take into consideration. How long would the posting be? Will housing be provided or will you rent "on the economy"? Will your husband be paid in dollars or Euros? If you will be living in Europe for more than a few months it is better to get paid in euros so that you don't ride the exchange rate roller-coaster from month to month. The main lesson I learned from moving over-seas was the importance of being "liquid" (i.e.- having access to cash). There are apartment deposit's to be paid, school registration fees for the kids (if you can find spots in an international school), possibly new appliances to be bought, etc. You will need some minimum amount to open a European bank account. Bank issued credit cards here usually automatically pay off your entire balance at the end of each month (at least here in Austria). Hopefully his company will provide relocation expenses.
This is all perhaps getting ahead of where you are. But your comment that "there is a possibility we might stay" made me feel compelled to chime in! Best of luck.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

...you have them raise your daily limit ( so you can withdraw more cash at once for less visits) Even if you ask your bank to raise your daily withdrawal limit, all the ATMs I've seen recently allow a maximum withdrawal of €250 per transaction. If your limit is, say $1000, which my bank said is the highest daily withdrawal limit they could allow, and you needed that much cash in a day, for example, you would have to withdraw from 4 different ATMs. (Not the way i'd want to spend my precious time in Europe; I'd rather do a pub crawl than an ATM crawl.) There was a conversation here recently about needing a large cash sum to pay for an apartment rental, and the conclusion seemed to be it probably was best to buy the Euros from a U.S. bank before departure, despite the mark-up, and carry them in a moneybelt for security. My experience is that you can only buy foreign currency from a U.S. bank where you hold an account.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

'all the ATMs I've seen recently allow a maximum withdrawal of €250' There's plenty with five hundred on the preselect. I've no idea what would happen if you selected 'other'. You can also march down the block to another machine and do it again. Then walk to the next block . . . .

Posted by TC
Atlanta
295 posts

It is always a good idea to have a hundred or so euros on you when you arrive. ATMs do malfunction, run out of money, lose electrical power, and etc. TC

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

The only place that I have encountered a 250E withdraw limits has been some ATMs in heavy tourist areas in Italy. We were recently in Italy and twice took 300E from ATMs in a couple of small hill towns.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

300 was our standard ATM withdrawal on our last Italy trip as well.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

The €250 limit I encountered recently was in Belgium and The Netherlands. I always used the same type of ATM; could have been a quirk of that particular chain. That said, I'm a light spender when I travel and I 'spend' as little time as possible at ATMs. ;)

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

We too withdrew 300-400 euros at a time last summer in Paris , Nice and Spain.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

All through Belgium and the Netherlands two years ago and never encountered a limited on ATMs. Once withdrew 750E in Haarlem to pay a hotel bill. We rarely charge anything so we hit the ATMs a lot and use a wide variety of ATMs owned by banks.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

I yanked two hundred out of one in Amsterdam last month and I was only in the middle of everwhat the choices where. I can't even get a mental image of anything ending in fifty once you hit an even two hundred.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9133 posts

Echoing two of the others, yes, if you end up staying longer, open a euro-denominated bank account. Paying for a vacation with a US-based ATM and credit card are one thing. Paying for utilities, rent, medical care, car repair and all the other little things that tourists don't have to worry about is a whole other ball game. This is especially important in Germany where many businesses (mostly, ones that tourists never use) bill by having you pay directly into their bank account, and may not accept credit cards. The US and European banking systems are not terribly well integrated, so without a bank account on this side of the Atlantic, the process of paying a simple bill can be very laborious. And just note, you won't be able to set up a local bank account until you can prove you live in Germany (ie, a rental contract).

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

Interestingly, over on the Italy side (ATM in Rome Airport) there's a post about five hundred euro withdrawals in Italy and a four hundred cap in Austria.