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Getting Euros from a US Bank?

We are going to Paris in a couple of weeks and intend to exchange a few USD for Euros at our bank. I thought I read somewhere (so many guidebooks=confusion) that you can get a better per-dollar exchange rate in Paris than at your US bank. Just wondering if that's true. We don't intend to get too many Euros before we go, but wanted some to pay the shuttle driver, etc. Thanks for any information!

Posted by
632 posts

If you truly just a few euros to cover the initial expenses upon you arrival (taxis, buses, tips etc), I recommend that you just wait until you get to your international departure airport (in your case, it will probably be DFW)...they have currency exchange booths at all of the international terminals...go ahead and convert $100 to $200 and don't worry about the rate...it will not be good, but in the grand scheme of things, the difference will not be significant, and the convenience will outweigh whatever differential there might be.

Posted by
360 posts

Yes, your best rate will be the ATM in Paris. Many people wait to buy Euros at the airport in Paris. I prefer to go with some on me & would get them at the airport here at a high rate. I always bring some home with me for the next trip.

Posted by
588 posts

Depending upon your bank, there may be a service charge for ordering euros. BOA charges a service fee based on the amount of euros purchased. Now that I have typed that, it seems that amount may be very close the conversion transaction fee. When you get off the plane, there will be ATMs everywhere. Go to the ATM associated with your bank and get money. You'll get the best rate. At the end of the trip, save a few for your next trip.

Posted by
632 posts

Audry, say you are changing planes in Frankfurt..you'd like to buy a beer, a brautwurst or a Toblerone...and you don't see an ATM....(I don't recall seeing them "everywhere" but I do recall being somewhat disoriented and anxious as I tried to make connections in the most efficient manner possible)...and if you final destination is a small airport (Florence for example)...and their one ATM that covers your network is not working...what do you do then?

Posted by
21641 posts

Have no idea what Audry means by, "Go to the ATM associated with your bank." I bank with US Bank and WaMu and have never seen an ATM in Europe associated with either US Bank or WaMu. If on the other hand she means using the proper network -- Plus or Cirrus -- then by all means make sure your debit card uses either or both of those two networks. They are by far the most common and anything else (STAR for example) will be difficult if not impossible to use.

Posted by
588 posts

BOA is associated with Deutsche Bank and Barclay's. BOA is part of the Global Alliance Bankiing. There are ATMs in the Frankfurt airport. There are signs for Banking machines. However, if you want to get money in the US, do so. Frankly, if I'm changing planes in Frankfurt or anywhere without at least a two hour time, I don't take the time for a beer or do anything else.

Posted by
4125 posts

Frank, some U.S. banks, like BOA, charge a hefty fee for overseas transactions except at partner banks and their ATMS. An argument for an account with a bank that does not levy such fees. But if you are stuck with such a bank it pays to stay with their overseas partners.

Posted by
643 posts

BOA may not charge fees, but VISA charges 5% per transaction at ATMs. This is from a BOA rep on the phone.

Posted by
264 posts

Well, the destination is Paris, not one of those small places! Bank of America has a correspondent relationship with BNP bank in Paris. NO FEES for Checkcard (debit card, not credit card) withdrawals!! YEAHHHHHHHHHH

Yes, BNP ATM's are quite plentiful in Paris; If you are a BofA account holder and use an ATM other than BNP, you lose, big time!

Posted by
40 posts

Bill, wonder if the BNP "no fees" also applies to Chase Bank? That's the ATM card I use.

Thanks!

Posted by
4555 posts

Veronica....BNP only has the "no fees" ATM deal with B of A in the U.S. Chase may have a relationship with other European banks, but you'd have to check their website.

Posted by
7 posts

Just use your ATM card at the airport when you arrive. Much easier that way. Also note that National City offers a Preferred Customer account that waives ATM fees. While you'll still have to pay the exchange fee, any little bit helps!

Posted by
264 posts

Hi Veronica,

To find out about Chase's correspondent banking relationships, just give Chase customer service a call and they will tell you which French ATM's will be NO-Fee for you. You need to call them anyway so that they mark your account to be "open" for overseas travel. If you don't call, they might lock your account on the first withdrawal.

RE: CDG airport ATM's. There have been numerous prior posts here about this subject. Reportedly there is only (1) ATM at CDG that will honor American debit cards. All the rest at the airport require "the flea" (The European electronic chip which we do not have). Good news - once you get into the city of Paris, all ATM's will honor American ATM cards. (without the flea)

Norm, you are quite wrong in your statement about BofA. I just returned from 2-weeks in Paris, made over a dozen cash withdrawals, and there was not one cent deducted from my checking account for fees.

(Perhaps you are confused over the differences between a credit card and a checkcard)? I'm not trying to explain your confusion, just guessing.

Posted by
40 posts

Thanks for the tip, Bill. Yes, thanks for reminding me that I need to call the bank and let them know I will be travelling and using my card(s)!

Posted by
264 posts

You are most welcome! Have a wonderful time!!! :-)

Posted by
643 posts

Bill, VISA is the network you use when you get cash from an ATM in another country, so even with the BoA ATM card used at the corresponding bank in Paris, you'll get charged with the 5% fee, according to the BoA rep I spoke with.

Posted by
632 posts

Bill,

Thank you for clarifying a point that I failed to clearly make...that is that not all ATM machines work with American cards because of the new chip technology. I didn't know about the CDG ATM issue, but it doesn't surprise me. My only point in posting my earlier message was that I thought the small additional costs of converting a small amount of US$ to destination currency at the US point of embarkation was a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides...there is lots of time to find any number of ATMs that work in the destination cities...I just don't want to be wandering around in a big (or small) airport trying to find one of the few ATMs that accept US debit cards. And again, I have had enough experience with foreign travel to have run into out of service or defective ATMs at precisely the most inopportune time.

For the record, we carry 4 debit cards 2 from First Republic that are part of the Plus network and they reimburse us for all charges except the currency conversion fee's...the other 2 are Wells Fargo debit cards, that we only use in an emergency due to the higher fees.

Posted by
4555 posts

Dave...Visa (and Mastercard) charge EVERYONE a fee who uses one of their Cirrus or Plus network ATM machines on a foreign cash withdrawal, regardless of what kind of account you have. That's how they make a profit on the service. It's buried in the exchange rate that your US dollars are converted to when you make the withdrawal....in Canada, Scotiabank, which is a member of the Global Alliance as well, tells us it's 2.5% higher than the going interbank rate, which is still a lot better than you'll get at any currency exchange outlet. What the others are referring to are the fees banks charge for using non-branch ATMs.

Posted by
4555 posts

Bill....what "confusion" are you talking about?

Posted by
10906 posts

Right Norm..eh...everyone gets charged a fee from Mastercard or Visa. It doesn't matter who you bank with. It's included in the exchange rate. However, some banks have agreements with European Banks that if you use their ATM, neither bank will add, for lack of a better word, a "usage" fee.

As an example, Bank of America and Barclay's have such an agreement.

Posted by
4555 posts

Frank...you're getting the hang of it, eh? That's the point I was trying to make for Dave's consideration. Some have mentioned in the past a Capital One account, others an ATM card associated with a Schwab account as either having no ATM fees or refunding the ones you are charged. Unfortunately, they're no offered in Canada :(

Posted by
9363 posts

Dave, you apparently didn't explain to the BofA rep that you talked with that you were talking about a debit card (ATM) transaction. Yes, you do get charged a 5% fee if you get cash with a credit card, but not a debit card. Of course Visa and Mastercard get a cut (as explained, it is a small fraction of the exchange rate you get) but I have used my Visa-branded debit card all over the world and have never been charged anything by my credit union.

Posted by
10906 posts

Thanks, Norm, eh. I even know the words to "Oh, Canada"....too many hockey games, eh.