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Old 01-10-2015, 07:13 AM   #21
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We're going to Europe twice this year, (Spring & Fall), and have been picking up a few Euros from time to time in preparation......(order them online and pick them up at our local branch a few days later)......as with market timing I doubt we'll get the absolute best rate, but I guess grabbing them in tranches can't hurt.
Many years ago I ordered euros from Wells Fargo. I was surprised at how much in fees were involved. It's so easy to use your debit card at the airport that I can't see any reason to buy in advance. If you really have to have some local currency in your pocket, exchange $50 or $100 at the airport. It's a bad rate but you exchange so little it doesn't really matter.

I keep some euros and British pounds because I know I'm going back. There are risks with that. I have about $30 worth of now worthless Belgium and French franks.
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Old 01-10-2015, 08:02 AM   #22
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There should be some type of low fee investment you can make with an equal amount of money that you plan to spend in Europe. This way you can lock in the exchange rate. I guess if the Euro declines more you can take a tax deduction on the loss in the investment when you get back from your trip.

I would have to spend a lot to be bothered with trying this. I might do it if I had plans to buy a villa or something next year in Europe and a recovery of the Euro would make it unaffordable.
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Old 01-10-2015, 09:47 AM   #23
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When we last returned from Europe we had a some money left over. We traded it for USD using craigslist (or maybe a neighbourhood email list) to someone planning their trip and eliminated transactions fees. It wasn't much money (maybe $100-$200) but saved us the trouble of converting it elsewhere.
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Old 01-10-2015, 10:41 AM   #24
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Have thought this over, I decided that if I had a a buddy who could pick up some Euros at today's prices, I would probably choose to buffer myself against a future increase, and have the buddy buy about 1/2 of what I expected to spend on my summer trip.

Other than that, like others said above, if I could predict where the Euro will be in the summer, I would probably be booking my flight to Europe first class instead of economy.
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:13 AM   #25
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We're planning a trip for September and want to make some advanced hotel reservations to get into the better value hotels before they become harder to book. I'm guessing that booking very early is a good idea. For instance, we have a Greek tour set up and know the dates. Want to get into the hotel the tour uses so we won't have to change hotels.

The best rates are non-refundable. I'm guessing they will charge our card right away. If so this will be a bet on the Euro level.

Is this right, do hotels normally charge the card immediately to do a non-refundable booking? Do they charge the card immediately for even a refundable booking (particularly in Italy)?
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:23 AM   #26
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I simply DCA into the euro in preparation for my next trip.
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:25 AM   #27
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We're planning a trip for September and want to make some advanced hotel reservations to get into the better value hotels before they become harder to book. I'm guessing that booking very early is a good idea. For instance, we have a Greek tour set up and know the dates. Want to get into the hotel the tour uses so we won't have to change hotels.

The best rates are non-refundable. I'm guessing they will charge our card right away. If so this will be a bet on the Euro level.

Is this right, do hotels normally charge the card immediately to do a non-refundable booking? Do they charge the card immediately for even a refundable booking (particularly in Italy)?
So, would a 20% change in the value of the euro really make a difference based on the cost of the hotel room? I buy non-refundable all the time.
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:34 AM   #28
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So, would a 20% change in the value of the euro really make a difference based on the cost of the hotel room? I buy non-refundable all the time.
When you buy non-refundable is it charged immediately or at check-in? I just want to understand the methods used in Europe.

It's true, I would not hold off just based on betting on the direction of exchange rate as the current market rate is the world financial market's best guess. Maybe future prices are another angle on this, but I don't worry about guesses.

EDIT: I looked up the Euro exchange rate and it shows
current = 1.18
futures (Mar 2015) = 1.184
futures (Jun 2015) = 1.186
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Old 01-10-2015, 12:26 PM   #29
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I'm in no position to give advice, but a few weeks ago The Economist magazine stated that most of the world's major banks predicted a 1:1 USD-EUR exchange rate this summer. It that happens, I will very seriously consider buying a house in Italy in my wife's hometown.
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Old 01-10-2015, 12:42 PM   #30
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Yikes!!! What is the right kind of ATM card to use? My credit union is on the PLUS network. I have sent an email to them to find out if they have a foreign transaction fee or ATM fee. It would be horrible to get over there and not to be able to withdraw money!

I plan on taking 2 credit cards and 2 debit cards and keeping them separate - one on my person and the other in my luggage or hotel /cruise ship safe.
You should be fine with those options, but a little cash on hand is always a good hedge. For our trips to Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu last year I kept a $100 cash just in case we had trouble with ATM's. In Vanuatu there were several walk in Western Union places where they manually scanned a debit card for cash. I'm sure that Europe will be as well serviced with walk-in forex places should ATM's not work for you.

PS
Vanuatu was still on magnetic stripe for cards.
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Old 01-11-2015, 08:06 AM   #31
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Lsb, to answer your question on hotels in Italy: when I went with my mom in 2006, I made all of our reservations in advance. After her accident, I called the rest of them and negotiated down to first night charges only. That was the best I could do. They charged my card at the time of the reservation, not before.

Also, check out Booking.com for hotels. We used that extensively in some very backwater central Asian towns to find hotels and were pleasantly surprised. I imagine it would be great for finding stuff in more tourist friendly areas as well.


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Old 01-11-2015, 08:21 AM   #32
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When you buy non-refundable is it charged immediately or at check-in? I just want to understand the methods used in Europe.

It's true, I would not hold off just based on betting on the direction of exchange rate as the current market rate is the world financial market's best guess. Maybe future prices are another angle on this, but I don't worry about guesses.

EDIT: I looked up the Euro exchange rate and it shows
current = 1.18
futures (Mar 2015) = 1.184
futures (Jun 2015) = 1.186
In my experience, I usually get charged soon after I make the reservation but the time varies. Generally, it's within a few days. I had one reservation not actually charge me until we showed up. I got the lower rate of the prepay but really didn't. I don't know what would have happened if we didn't show up.

The exchange rate I get on my credit card is shown in multiple decimal places that is very close to the "headline" exchange rate but I've never done a direct comparison. This is the same as getting cash on my debit cards.
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Old 01-11-2015, 08:24 AM   #33
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You should be fine with those options, but a little cash on hand is always a good hedge. For our trips to Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu last year I kept a $100 cash just in case we had trouble with ATM's. In Vanuatu there were several walk in Western Union places where they manually scanned a debit card for cash. I'm sure that Europe will be as well serviced with walk-in forex places should ATM's not work for you.

PS
Vanuatu was still on magnetic stripe for cards.
I also carry $100 with me for the same reason. DW also carries $100 and I make sure she has at least about $100 in local currency.
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:18 AM   #34
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Half and half

We're going to Scotland in June. If I had a relative coming, I'd probably do what Chuck indicated and and exchange 40-50% of what you intended to spend now, then finance the rest in Europe through an avenue like the Schwab card (we have a Schwab account so maybe we'll do that).

The Euro has dropped a lot, quickly. I wouldn't be surprised for Greece and economic weakness to push it further towards parity, but whether that would last until/through summer is another question.

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Old 01-11-2015, 10:26 AM   #35
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Also, check out Booking.com for hotels. We used that extensively in some very backwater central Asian towns to find hotels and were pleasantly surprised. I imagine it would be great for finding stuff in more tourist friendly areas as well.
Thanks Sarah and 2B for your experiences with hotel charges.

This booking.com link gets one to the English language version: Booking.com: 586,112 hotels worldwide. 41+ million hotel reviews.
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Old 01-11-2015, 10:53 AM   #36
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Thanks Sarah and 2B for your experiences with hotel charges.

This booking.com link gets one to the English language version: Booking.com: 586,112 hotels worldwide. 41+ million hotel reviews.
FYI

There has been a very successful and convincing scam in operation on folks that have hotel reservations made through Booking.com that I heard about on news podcasts in some detail.

Scammers target leading online travel agent Booking.com - BBC News

Quote:
By accessing Booking.com reservations, the crooks have been able to obtain contact details to send customers demands for prepayment.
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:03 AM   #37
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I've always made reservations directly through a hotel's web site or by contacting them. If something goes wrong, I'm hoping the direct contact will make it easier to correct. But we have used sites like TripAdvisor for info purposes.
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:11 AM   #38
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I've always made reservations directly through a hotel's web site or by contacting them. If something goes wrong, I'm hoping the direct contact will make it easier to correct. But we have used sites like TripAdvisor for info purposes.

No problems there if you work directly with the bank to make the reservation.
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Old 01-11-2015, 01:30 PM   #39
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I've always made reservations directly through a hotel's web site or by contacting them. If something goes wrong, I'm hoping the direct contact will make it easier to correct. But we have used sites like TripAdvisor for info purposes.
Us too - book directly with hotel whenever possible. Much fewer problems that way. I've only booked through booking.com if the hotel to B&B website directed me there for reservations.
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:11 PM   #40
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Another tip for Booking.com FYI: if you are going to a country that requires a visa, and as part of that, proof of hotel accommodations, they can be very useful. When I worked on visas for Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, as well as Gypsy Ed's home away from home place, Azerbaijan, the embassies required a hotel booking in each person's name. Handy to make the reservation and keep it until after the visa was issued, then cancel.


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