Is it better to use charge card in euros in Europe or have merchant exchange in dollars?
Nothing but Euros.
Merchant charging you in dollars will add 10 - 15% to the bill over what the price in Euros is. Then your bank will still charge you whatever international fees they would anyway on top of it.
I play pretend when I am spending money in Europe. I have spent a lot of money on airfare and the time away from work is also costing me a pretty penny. Therefore, I don't need the angst of trying to convert temperature, or distance, or weight, or money. Because of this, I PRETEND that I am only paying for things in dollars. If a beer is 3 euros, then it costs 3 dollars. If a hotel costs 150 euros, then it is really only costing me $150. It's pretend, but it is fret free, and I don't worry about the actual cost. I have never looked at a credit card bill upon returning to the US and thought, "well, shoot, that dinner actually cost me 70 dollars--not 65 dollars like I thought." The experience always trumps the price difference. What did Sheryl Crow sing? "Lie to me--I promise I'll believe."
Enjoy the experience in euros....just pretend for a little while that they're only dollars.
What you're describing is called DCC (dynamic currency conversion). Here's why you shouldn't do it.
I have know to reject the DCC offer and the other day in Paris, I noted the amount that the ATM said my withdrawal would have been if I had used DCC so I could compare it to the amount of dollars that were actually withdrawn. For a 300€ withdrawal, the difference between what the bank deducted from my account and what the amount would have been if DCC had been used was approximately $18. These days most banks have an online presence where you check balances, withdrawal, etc. in real time so DCC is really paying for nothing. To pay $18 for something that offers no value to the account holder is ridiculous.
The ATM, the people who maintain it, probably rent on the space it occupies, and the interest on the money that sits in it until it is withdrawn all costs money. Someone has to pay for it. Unfortunately it is the tourist who doesn't understand DCC in most cases. Actual account holders at those banks are not shown the DCC option because they get the same currency that bank works in anyway. Visitors to the US are shown the DCC at some ATMs to ask if they want to be charged in Euros (or whatever) instead of Dollars so it isn't just Americans being singled out.
I am just completely overjoyed that so far in my European travels I have not run into ATMs that charge fees and that I also have credit and debit cards that don't charge me anything extra when I use them in foreign places. I can't find an ATM anywhere near where I live that doesn't charge fees for getting money other than the one my bank has.
capital one cards, American express cards do NOT add any service fees to your bills. What you spend in Euros and charge to your card are calculated at the day's exchange rate. Always go to your local bank and get Euros pounds, etc, in advance. If you are a good customer many banks do not charge you anything for ordering them from their international departments and you have a good idea what your rate is before you leave home. I count on 100 euros per day for expenses and generally exempt one day so 700 for an 8 day trip. I've never come home with more than 20/30 dollars left over and could easily spend that on some last min. souvenir at the airport - even if it's a few packages of pasta, a jar of marmalade, etc. Bringing foreign currency in allows you to have freedom to avoid going to a bank, ATM and worrying about logistics. If you find a few days in you might need more $ rather use a credit card, it gives you some leeway to spot one during your travels.
Use your debit card, always transact in euro.
Always the local currency.
I believe you have your answer.
Actually, you have many answers. I would say use your debit card ONLY to get cash at an ATM and use your credit card for purchases (more protection for cardholder wirh credit cards.) Make sure you are billed in local currency, NOT USD. Some merchants and hotels prepare their bills in USD (one hotel specified this on the face of my bill, but I didn't read everything so lost my chance to protest when I signed for the charge.)
Click on “Travel Tips” on the left hand side of RS home page and then click on “Money” for lots of very useful information that will help you be a successful traveler in Europe.
If you are a good customer many banks do not charge you anything for ordering [euro] from their international departments
Perhaps you could give us a comprehensive list of these "many" banks that do this. I've never found one that did not charge. Only major banks, like Wells Fargo, B of A, etc have international currency departments, and they all charge 5% or more for the exchange. Smaller banks without Int'l currency Ops buy theirs from the bigger banks and pass the charge on to you. Maybe you just don't see it because they don't add a charge of their own, but there is a charge in what they pay for the currency from the big banks.
Before you follow the always euro advice be sure that the countries you are visiting are on the euro. Off the top of my head those popular destinations that arent include UK, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Denmark and Hungary. Less popular destinations include most of the old Soviet Bloc. , I travel on Credit Cards and ATMs and think it works best for me at least.
Maybe rephrase that: "Always make sure you are billed in the local currency", be that Euros, Pounds, Franks, Krona or whatever. Never accept conversion to your home currency.
It is not just US tourists DCC is aimed at, I have had it with British (pound) and Swiss (Frank) cards in Euro countries.
Many shops in the (Swiss) city I live in accept Euros, because it is on the border and many shoppers come over the border. It may be a convenience to buy a cup of coffee in Euros when you haven't got any Swiss Franks, but you will get surcharged 10-15%.