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getting euros in the usa

What is the cheapest way to to buy euros in the us w/o paying all these fees?

Posted by
2876 posts

The only way to buy euros without paying fees and commissions is to buy from a private party - someone, for instance, who's been to Europe and has currency left over. Any bank or currency exchange is going to hit you with commissions and fees. The cheapest way to obtain euros is to wait til you're in Europe and get them from an ATM over there, using your American ATM/debit card.

Posted by
34 posts

The travelex exchanges have a deal where you buy over a certain amount and they won't charge fees. They w ill also buy back what you don't use without a fee if you do the deal. I'm not sure but I think you have to spend $300.00 to qualify..........it maybe more. Is worth checking them out. Eden

Posted by
2876 posts

Travelex makes its money from the poor exchange rate they give you. For instance, if you buy 300 euros from them today, it will cost you $441.37 - an exchange rate of $1.47. Today's actual exchange rate is $1.33. That's a markup of 10 1/2 %. So don't be fooled by "no-fee" claims.

Posted by
19171 posts

There are fees (what you are charged per transaction), and there are exchange rate discounts (that is the percentage over the official, or Interbank, exchange rate they charge you). As Rick says, places with good exchange rates have high fees; those with no fees have lousy exchange rate (that describes Forex). Right now, the exchange rate as of midnight last night was $1.3233/Euro; at a Wells Fargo main branch, you can get $1.3888/Euro. That's 4.9% over the Interbank rate. I like to have a few hundred Euro in my pocket when I arrive, just in case I can't use an ATM right away. I know longer have to buy it when I'm over there, I saved that much from my last trip. I also hit the ATM before I am down to nothing.

Posted by
1976 posts

Hi Roselee - how much cash do you want to buy in the U.S.? I like to have some cash on me when I arrive in Europe so for my upcoming trip, I'm going to buy 100 euros and 100 pounds from U.S. Bank (I don't have an account there but my family does). The exchange rate isn't good but to me it's worth it to have some local currency in advance.

Posted by
9110 posts

I hate stinking travelex - - they're a complete screw job. A month ago I wound up in a country where I seldom go and thus didn't have a starter stash. The only airport atms where the travelex machines. Combined with the fee and the exchange rate, I figure it cost me fifty bucks to get fourty.

Posted by
263 posts

AAA Motor Club has change packets you can buy. Downside is you need to be a member. Not sure the exact dollar amounts.

Posted by
800 posts

And AAA will also charge you a "fee" in that their exchange rate is poor. Pretty much for anyone here in the states you'll pay at least 6-7% or more. So again, don't be fooled by the "no fees" claim. I have purchased money online with wells Fargo as a gift (child going to s. Africa, Australia). There was a minimum amount to purchase - I think it was 250, a small mailing fee and a big exchange rate difference. But it was a gift and I wanted to give it to them with their travel diary. For our own use, we just get euros, pounds,rupees, etc when we arrive in the country.

Posted by
9363 posts

I checked out our local AAA office a couple of weeks back. Their packs of euro cost $95, I think, and currently contain 60 euro - over $1.58 per euro. No fees, but a lousy exchange rate. I asked when their rate might change and they said they would not get another rate until they sold their current packs, no matter how long that might take.

Posted by
22 posts

Wells Fargo rate today is 1.3888 for 1 euro. If you spend $1000 I believe the Fed Ex fee is waived. I have used Wells Fargo for years, always cheaper than Travelex. I also use my miles accruing credit card for the purchase. I get the euros and miles for my next trip.

Posted by
1976 posts

Karen and Nancy are right. A few years ago I went to AAA to buy a packet of euros. The exchange rate at the time was about 75 euros to $100 (I think of it backwards) but they were selling a packet of 63 euros for $100. They said that was what they paid for the euros at the time of purchase. They disregard the current exchange rate. I went to my bank and bought 100 euros for $137 - not great, but better than AAA.

Posted by
1152 posts

I look at the debate about getting foreign currency before leaving as, pardon the expression, penny wise and pound foolish. Say you get $200 worth of Euros and end up paying 10 percent in either fees or poorer exchange rates, or both. That still is only $20. To many people, the peace of mind from having a small quantity of cash is likely worth it. Sure, the best advice is to go to an ATM once you arrive, but so what? Buy your Euros from a local bank and don't worry about it. You'll pay more than you would if you waited until arrival, but given that you'll likely spend well more than that over there just buying coffee, I wouldn't sweat it. (Getting larger amounts of currency under the same circumstances makes less sense, of course.) Like many others, we hang on to a small amount of Pounds and Euros from our last trip. I've never bothered to calculate how much I'm losing from just letting that money sit. You could make a good argument that we're losing just as much as if we bought new cash before leaving, depending on the time between trips and the difference in the exchange rate from when we got the money and the rate when we made the later trip.

Posted by
12199 posts

Buying currencies can be done at any National Bank (generally all the big names, and a lot of smaller ones are National Banks). Some branches will have some currency on hand; normally they order it for you and you pick it up in a couple of days. When you buy or sell, there is a minimum bill that can be exchanged. I believe when AAA sells you a money pack, it includes smaller change you can't get from a bank (at a higher price than the bank charges). You don't really need small change. When you get into the country, stop at an airport newstand and buy a small item (soda, gum, etc.) and get some change. I don't "pack" any money. I simply use the ATM when I get there (then stop at a newstand to get change). Fortunately, I've never run into the problem of only having Travelex machines in the airport. When you use ATMs make sure they have a bank name rather than an exchange name - if it's got "ex" in the name, it's best to find one that doesn't.

Posted by
2916 posts

I no longer buy any euros before I leave the US; instead I try to keep some at the end of a trip for the next trip and then use the first ATM I see. This time I wound up with virtually nothing from our last trip, and looked into how much it would cost to get some. I decided that with either bad exchange rates or fees (or both, as with Travelex), it just wasn't worth it, so I'll just wait until I arrive and use an ATM.

Posted by
263 posts

As kind of another thought, I had a friend who went two years ago and came back with about 90 Euro, which he was willing to sell at the current exchange rate. I convinced him to keep them and return to Europe someday. He and his wife are going back this fall. I generally bring back 30-40 Euro as seed money for the rare instance when I can't get to an ATM at an airport.
Everyone seems to have a fee. Or a poor exchange rate. If selling Euros is part of their business, then I guess we should expect them to want to make a profit.

Posted by
2486 posts

Not all AAA offices have the currency packs. I stopped by an office to ask about the packs before I went in Dec. and they looked at me like I was from Mars.

Posted by
1840 posts

Those AAA currency packs are really a bad deal. We have bought two of them. It seems the local office bought their packs when the exchange rate was really high so that's what they sell them for. We have ordered a thousand dollars worth of foreign currency twice, and if a person orders that much at one time there is no broker fee or so we were told. Since then we rely totally on ATMs in the country(ies) we are going to.

Posted by
19171 posts

Every ATM (Geldautomat) I've ever used in Germany has given the first hundred in small bills (3@€20, 3@€10, & 2@€5, I think) and the rest in €50s. That gives you some small bills for small purchases. Bahn automats take bills up to about €50, depending on the ticket prices, but give change in coins only. I once bought a ticket for a fairly short trip, about DM 20, I think, and only had a DM 50 note. I got DM 30 in coins. Fortunately, most were DM 5 coins, but still it was a handful.

Posted by
22 posts

The current rate (3/25) is $1.327 per euro. So, buying 1000 euro = $1,327.10 buying through Wells Fargo would cost $1,388.80. The difference would be $61.00 per thousand. So you would have to decide for yourself if it is worth it. If you need cash to pay for an apartment upon arrival, as I generally do, having the cash on hand is easier than hunting for ATMs to get the required amount. I know they are plentiful and easy to find but one can only get so much for each transaction per day.

Posted by
19171 posts

James, 1. "what does this have to do with the OP?" That was responding to the concern, expressed later, about needing small bills. 2. "20 euro is the highest denomination the machine will take" Better tell that to the Bahn, because on their webpage, Automaten Tour, under "> Bezahlen am Automaten > Zahlen in Bargeld", it shows €50 notes as being usable. Now, I can't speak for every local ticket automat out there, but I do believe the ones of the Bahn do.