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Changing money

Is it better to get euros here in the Statea before traveling to Europe?

Posted by
16165 posts

It is better, in general, to just use your ATM card to withdraw money from your own bank account while in Europe. The machine will dispense Euros, your bank network will take care of the exchange automatically at the best available rate at that time. Have a bank account that does not charge foreign currency fees, or out-of- network fees, and decline any offer to tell you what the exchange rate will be.

When you buy Euros in the States, you are buying a commodity that is scarce here, and taking it to a place where it is common. All the ATM's in Europe (countries where Euro is the legal tender) are chock full of Euros.

Posted by
4652 posts

We do like taking some euros with us, just in case there's a problem with our debit card or local ATMs (it has happened. Twice. OK, thrice.) We usually make sure when we end a European trip, to set aside some euros, at least €50 to €100, to get us to our hotel and maybe pay for our first meal.

Posted by
18022 posts

I have made multiple trips to Europe, and I hope to make more. Every time I come back, I bring with me a couple of hundred euro to be used when I go back so I don't arrive cashless. (So I am getting that cash at the European ATM rate.) I once arrived in Frankfurt with three ATM cards, and for technical reasons, the first two ATM cards didn't work in the airport ATMs; the third one did. I had a couple hundred euro in cash, so I wasn't too worried. Still, I knew 200 euro wasn't going to last me for 2 weeks.

Is it better to get euros here in the Statea before traveling to Europe?

No. It's more expensive to get euro here than at ATMs over there. I know because I've checked the numbers multiple times.

You can always find the Interbank rate on a website like Oanda. That is the peer-to-peer rate at which banks exchange currency when there is no buyer/seller. That is the rate Wells Fargo charged me to withdraw euro at an ATM in FRA two years ago. (To that they added a $5 fee.) I check with Oanda and the rate WF charged was the Interbank rate at the time. If I go into my WF branch, they have the rates posted for buying euro over here, and I check that vs Oanda. It averages 5% over the Interbank rate (their rate is set for the day in the morning and can be more or less than 5% over as the Interbank rate changes during the day.

However, Wells Fargo charges me the exchange rate plus $5, which on an almost $500 withdrawal is ~1%. Some major banks charge 3% over plus $5, which is about 4% over, so if you have one of those banks, 5% over for cash from here is not much more expensive than ATM withdrawals over there.

Posted by
3547 posts

I have drawn money from my chequing account through an ATM card for many years, in many countries. A rare glitch may block access to one ATM machine so I move to another. For the same reason (and for security against loss, etc) I have cards from two banks, on separate systems. Those cards are never together in the same pocket or wallet. And no debit-card purchases; credit gives me rewards.

Posted by
20 posts

I bring some small amount of local currency on my trips and as much as possible avoid Travelex. If you land at a small airport, you’ll need money to hire a taxi or bus tickets. I had situations when ATMs in Geneva and Moscow airports didn’t accept my U.S. cards. Also, carrying some 💵 was helpful when my card wasn’t accepted in Biarritz, I bought € at a local bank.

Posted by
8413 posts

The first time I went to Europe I got some Euro from my local bank to tide me over until I could shake off jet lag and handle an ATM in a different language, lol. Now I just make sure I bring back some "seed" money - Euro or GBP. I like to have about 200 whatevers to get me transportation in to town and a couple of meals before I deal with an ATM. I get all the rest of my money via ATM as advised here.

I have had issues with my debit card which is from a small local bank. Even though I went in to notify them of my travel plans they failed to do the necessary steps and my card was frozen. Luckily I had another debit card which did work and also had my brother call the CU to talk with one of the managers (who was a friend, lol). I travel solo and now always have 2 debit cards and 2 credit cards.

IF you are on a Rick Steves tour, the first night the guide will take you on a neighborhood walk and will point out the "good" ATMs. I still use the one in Paris one of my early guides pointed out - because you know, I believed everything Dimitri told me, lol!

Posted by
4652 posts

And if you can, while on your trip, do carry more euros than you think you'll need. On our most recent Best of Europe tour, we spent two nights in a town that did not have a ATM, and spent the next night in a town that had only one.

Posted by
5657 posts

...a town that did not have a ATM, and spent the next night in a town that had only one.

You can use Google Maps to anticipate ATM service is small towns. Just do a search for "ATM near..." with the name of the town. Google seems to be smart enough to know the local name of the ATM such as "Geldautomat" in a German village.

Posted by
2486 posts

Getting a 100 Euro here will cost you an extra $5-10, very small change given the cost of your trip. Then when you land jet lagged you’ve got seed money for a taxi, coffee, whatever and can go to a bank ATM when you are settled in. I only use an ATM at a bank, either outside or inside, during bank business hours, in case the machine eats my card. I do not use airport ATM’s as I don’t like using an ATM surrounded by hundred of other folks while I am fatigued, trying to watch my luggage. And if that ATM were to eat my card, I’d be out of luck.

Posted by
5657 posts

And if that ATM were to eat my card, I’d be out of luck.

Good idea to have more than one account and ATM card.

Posted by
2486 posts

Oh I do. But then I’d be down to one for the entire trip and no Euros to boot!