Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by oldcomputerguy »

worthit wrote: Mon Jul 25, 2022 8:41 am Dear BHs,

Is it a good idea to buy euros now (since $ has gained in value) before my upcoming trip to Europe in 2 weeks? I don't like carrying a large amount of currency if I could avoid but wondering what would be the safest and financially prudent way to take advantage of the devalued euro for my 2 week expenses. If so, where do I buy?

Thanks in advance.
In past times, when we'd travel internationally, I'd go to my local brick-and-mortar bank and purchase some local currency funded from my checking account. The downsides to this are (1) the exchange rates were horrible; (2) I had to pay fees to the bank; (3) it always involved getting the foreign cash shipped in, which then involved shipping fees on top of bank fees; and (4) I had to make a guess as to how much cash we might need / use during travel, which often resulted in having a bunch of cash to exchange back to dollars at the end of the trip (incurring even more fees). These days, I just take my Fidelity Cash Management debit card and draw cash as needed from a local ATM in country.

In fact, we just returned from a two-week stay in France, and the only use I made of local currency was one- and two-euro coins for tipping tour guides and drivers. For this, I made one draw from a local ATM and broke the bills with a purchase at a local shop. We used a Visa card for just about everything else.
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MGBMartin
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by MGBMartin »

tfunk wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 8:59 pm Safest thing to do is use a credit card without a transaction fee.

We just returned from 4 weeks in Portugal. At the airport, they charged over 12% (not transaction fee but change fee). I thought this was very high until I went to the ATM in Lisbon and they also charged about 13% with a $5 Euro fee on top.

After than, we used the credit card as much as possible to avoid these excessive fees. Not sure if all of the EU is doing this now
Sounds like you used an Euronet or similar ATM; these should be avoided as they are basically unmanned exchange bureaus.
Always use a bank ATM and one affiliated with your own bank if available.
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02nz
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by 02nz »

neilpilot wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 9:08 pm
tfunk wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 8:59 pm Safest thing to do is use a credit card without a transaction fee.

We just returned from 4 weeks in Portugal. At the airport, they charged over 12% (not transaction fee but change fee). I thought this was very high until I went to the ATM in Lisbon and they also charged about 13% with a $5 Euro fee on top.

After than, we used the credit card as much as possible to avoid these excessive fees. Not sure if all of the EU is doing this now
Maybe this is a recent change, but when I’ve heard this type of report from others in the past it turned out to be due to one of 2 mistakes they made:

(1) they used a credit card at the atm, rather than a debit card
(2) the atm was not owned by a major bank
One other possibility (I warned about this upthread) is this is one of the ATMs offering the possibility to process the transaction in USD instead of EUR (you still get euros out of the machine). You ALWAYS get ripped off big-time on the exchange rate this way.
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by Fat Lip »

tfunk wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 8:59 pm Safest thing to do is use a credit card without a transaction fee.

We just returned from 4 weeks in Portugal. At the airport, they charged over 12% (not transaction fee but change fee). I thought this was very high until I went to the ATM in Lisbon and they also charged about 13% with a $5 Euro fee on top.

After than, we used the credit card as much as possible to avoid these excessive fees. Not sure if all of the EU is doing this now
I had this at a bank ATM in Portugal recently. I went to take out €200 using my US debit card and it offered a "guaranteed" exchange rate at a 12.5% markup. I could accept or reject the rate. I rejected it and the actual rate I got was much much better and close to the interbank rate. I've never seen it done that way before.

Agree that a small bit of cash is handy for walking around money but most things can be paid for by contactless credit card.
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by MGBMartin »

Fat Lip wrote: Mon Aug 01, 2022 9:57 am
tfunk wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 8:59 pm Safest thing to do is use a credit card without a transaction fee.

We just returned from 4 weeks in Portugal. At the airport, they charged over 12% (not transaction fee but change fee). I thought this was very high until I went to the ATM in Lisbon and they also charged about 13% with a $5 Euro fee on top.

After than, we used the credit card as much as possible to avoid these excessive fees. Not sure if all of the EU is doing this now
I had this at a bank ATM in Portugal recently. I went to take out €200 using my US debit card and it offered a "guaranteed" exchange rate at a 12.5% markup. I could accept or reject the rate. I rejected it and the actual rate I got was much much better and close to the interbank rate. I've never seen it done that way before.

Agree that a small bit of cash is handy for walking around money but most things can be paid for by contactless credit card.
Sounds like the Dynamic Currency Conversion thing I and others warned about earlier in the thread.
I think by law in the EU the ATM has to give you the option to decline and proceed without the “guaranteed” conversion which is always the best option.
That doesn’t stop them from trying to make it the default option or making it sound like the best option.
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tfunk
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by tfunk »

neilpilot wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 9:08 pm
tfunk wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 8:59 pm Safest thing to do is use a credit card without a transaction fee.

We just returned from 4 weeks in Portugal. At the airport, they charged over 12% (not transaction fee but change fee). I thought this was very high until I went to the ATM in Lisbon and they also charged about 13% with a $5 Euro fee on top.

After than, we used the credit card as much as possible to avoid these excessive fees. Not sure if all of the EU is doing this now
Maybe this is a recent change, but when I’ve heard this type of report from others in the past it turned out to be due to one of 2 mistakes they made:

(1) they used a credit card at the atm, rather than a debit card
(2) the atm was not owned by a major bank
That is probably what happened at the one bank ATM I went to. Only looking for a couple hundred $ it was a little difficult to figure out which Portugal bank would take a Chase ATM card without a special fee, I just decided to keep it simple and use the credit card as much as possible. Not exactly what I would call a "mistake" but something to spend time investigating before traveling if you need a lot of local cash. Our next stop is Peru. I have read that the bank ATM on the arrival level has high fees and it is recommended to go upstairs and use one of the many ATMs there. Again, I will probably use my credit card as much as possible if they take them in Peru.
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by Tribonian »

I used Wise, formerly TransferWise to buy Euros. Put in a standing order to buy when they reached parity and paid an $8 exchange fee. I also chose to buy the debit card for $9. It’s the first debit card I’ve ever had because I don’t like how insecure they are. Added it to Apple Pay and it was very convenient.
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by obgraham »

tfunk wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 2:38 pm
Our next stop is Peru. I have read that the bank ATM on the arrival level has high fees and it is recommended to go upstairs and use one of the many ATMs there. Again, I will probably use my credit card as much as possible if they take them in Peru.
A lot of smaller businesses in Peru inly take cash. But I never had a problem getting cash with my debit cards there. The fee is higher at the airport ATM's. In town, use the bank ones, often with a guy holding a machine gun at the door!
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by squirrel1963 »

Starfish wrote: Mon Aug 01, 2022 12:26 am
quantAndHold wrote: Mon Jul 25, 2022 9:19 am The last time I was in Europe, I got 40 Euros out of an ATM at the airport, then had trouble spending it. Everyplace took Apple Pay.
Same, including eastern Europe.
Not only that but some places don't accept cash anymore. I saw that in Spain and I hear in Scandinavia is pretty common.
I always carry 2 debit cards and 2-3 credit cards besides the phone.
Scandinavia is de facto cashless at this point, as is UK and most of Northern Italy. I was surprised by Germany (specifically Bavaria), where I found that some small merchants don't accept VISA.

In the past few years I never went around Eurozone countries with more than 200 euros cash, and never bothered to get cash in UK or Scandinavia.

It bears repeating the warning others have given : always pay in local currency, otherwise the merchant (or bank) will charge you upwards of 5% conversion fee.
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worthit
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by worthit »

oldcomputerguy wrote: Mon Aug 01, 2022 5:33 am
worthit wrote: Mon Jul 25, 2022 8:41 am Dear BHs,

Is it a good idea to buy euros now (since $ has gained in value) before my upcoming trip to Europe in 2 weeks? I don't like carrying a large amount of currency if I could avoid but wondering what would be the safest and financially prudent way to take advantage of the devalued euro for my 2 week expenses. If so, where do I buy?

Thanks in advance.
In past times, when we'd travel internationally, I'd go to my local brick-and-mortar bank and purchase some local currency funded from my checking account. The downsides to this are (1) the exchange rates were horrible; (2) I had to pay fees to the bank; (3) it always involved getting the foreign cash shipped in, which then involved shipping fees on top of bank fees; and (4) I had to make a guess as to how much cash we might need / use during travel, which often resulted in having a bunch of cash to exchange back to dollars at the end of the trip (incurring even more fees). These days, I just take my Fidelity Cash Management debit card and draw cash as needed from a local ATM in country.

In fact, we just returned from a two-week stay in France, and the only use I made of local currency was one- and two-euro coins for tipping tour guides and drivers. For this, I made one draw from a local ATM and broke the bills with a purchase at a local shop. We used a Visa card for just about everything else.
Thanks. We are going to Paris, London and Amsterdam and Brussels. Only have Visa credit cards (with no foreign transaction fee) and a BOFA debit card. I have loaded the CCs on to Apple Pay.

So far PNB in Paris and Barclays in UK seem to be ATMs I can draw cash from using my BOFA debit card. They have no affiliates in Amsterdam apparently. My plan is to use Apple pay for most of the transactions but have minimal cash to tip cab drivers/guides etc. just like you did.
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by tfunk »

obgraham wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 6:23 pm
tfunk wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 2:38 pm
Our next stop is Peru. I have read that the bank ATM on the arrival level has high fees and it is recommended to go upstairs and use one of the many ATMs there. Again, I will probably use my credit card as much as possible if they take them in Peru.
A lot of smaller businesses in Peru inly take cash. But I never had a problem getting cash with my debit cards there. The fee is higher at the airport ATM's. In town, use the bank ones, often with a guy holding a machine gun at the door!
Thanks obgraham. Good tip. Machine guns at the bank doors is what I remember about my last trip to Guatemala.
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by bluebolt »

neilpilot wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 9:08 pm
tfunk wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 8:59 pm Safest thing to do is use a credit card without a transaction fee.

We just returned from 4 weeks in Portugal. At the airport, they charged over 12% (not transaction fee but change fee). I thought this was very high until I went to the ATM in Lisbon and they also charged about 13% with a $5 Euro fee on top.

After than, we used the credit card as much as possible to avoid these excessive fees. Not sure if all of the EU is doing this now
Maybe this is a recent change, but when I’ve heard this type of report from others in the past it turned out to be due to one of 2 mistakes they made:

(1) they used a credit card at the atm, rather than a debit card
(2) the atm was not owned by a major bank
(3) Dynamic currency conversion
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by Starfish »

tfunk wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 8:41 pm
obgraham wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 6:23 pm
tfunk wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 2:38 pm
Our next stop is Peru. I have read that the bank ATM on the arrival level has high fees and it is recommended to go upstairs and use one of the many ATMs there. Again, I will probably use my credit card as much as possible if they take them in Peru.
A lot of smaller businesses in Peru inly take cash. But I never had a problem getting cash with my debit cards there. The fee is higher at the airport ATM's. In town, use the bank ones, often with a guy holding a machine gun at the door!
Thanks obgraham. Good tip. Machine guns at the bank doors is what I remember about my last trip to Guatemala.
No machine guns in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama etc, only pump action shoguns.
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tooluser
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Re: Should I buy Euros now before my upcoming Europe travel?

Post by tooluser »

This is not difficult, cover all the bases. Have a little cash in the local currency on you when you hit the ground. Enough to rent a decent hotel room and buy some supplies if something goes wrong. At worst you paid a little too much for the conversion. Get more cash later from ATMs as you need it.
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