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Get Euros now or later
Old 01-09-2015, 01:23 PM   #1
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Get Euros now or later

Hi,

I plan a 2 month trip to Europe this summer (bike ride for those interested). I expect my SIL will visit there soon and could purchase some Euros for me. I do not pay attention to the currency changes until I am ready to travel but I know the Euro has been going down vs. the dollar.

For those that follow currencies, do you have a suggestion for the best way to proceed in order to keep my vacation costs as low as possible. Buy now/wait/ or just go on vacation and enjoy yourself?

Thanks
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:33 PM   #2
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I would think Euro will continue decline against dollar.

Cheapest is to withdraw Euros from ATM machine in Europe from Schwab Investor Checking.
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:35 PM   #3
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We lived in Europe and found the ATMs were easy and convenient.

BoA has (had?) an agreement with BNP Paribas in France so we could withdraw from them without any fee.
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:40 PM   #4
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Use your debit card at ATMs. Get a card with no foreign transaction fee and no fee at foreign ATMs.
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:45 PM   #5
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Cheapest is to withdraw Euros from ATM machine in Europe from Schwab Investor Checking.
We did this when we went to England in 2010. Don't recall paying anything with the Schwab debit card, and got the best exchange rate out there.

Frankly, if your other option is to physically transform dollars to euros (and perhaps remaining euros back to dollars at the end of the trip) the exchange rates are so bad that you are better off eating occasional credit card and ATM fees if they apply to you, especially if you have a bank that will charge 1% or less. (The Schwab card had no fees -- assuming they could properly identify part of the charge as an ATM fee -- and I believe my USAA debit card would charge a 1% foreign transaction fee but nothing else. Some would charge 3% or more; try to avoid those.)
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:51 PM   #6
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Unless you can get a good deal on Euros here, waiting until your arrival in Europe is probably the best idea. Find out what the US bank's exchange rate is and the fees involved. Ill bet it takes some of the shine off of getting the Euros at home.
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:52 PM   #7
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I have a 1% foreign currency fee with my ETrade debit card. The biggest problem I see with getting all of the euros in advance is you're traveling around Europe with hundreds or even thousands of euros. That's not particularly smart or safe. There are currency fluctuations but we can't really predict these. I'd guess that the exchange rate will favor waiting until on the trip but I don't really have a clue.
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:54 PM   #8
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I guess my question was not clear and I apologize for the confusion. I appreciate the ATM suggestions and that is the procedure I have used in the past. My question is should I buy some Euros now given the value of the Euro vs. the dollar. Or, would you wait for the summer?

My SIL is going to Europe. He is willing to buy some Euros from an ATM. I just do not follow currencies enough to know if waiting makes sense or if I should take advantage of the lower rate now.

Thanks again.
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:57 PM   #9
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I just do not follow currencies enough to know if waiting makes sense or if I should take advantage of the lower rate now.
.
It's not anything anyone can predict IMHO. Personally, I think the rate will continue to go down. I really wouldn't be surprised to see parity again. No telling what might happen if Greece really leaves the euro.
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Old 01-09-2015, 02:02 PM   #10
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It's anyone's guess which way the exchange rate will go between now and your vacation. As a general principle, withdrawing from an ATM gives you the best exchange rate available at that time. Another general rule is to ask for bills (e.g. Hotel bills) to be presented in the local currency, avoiding exchange premiums on your credit card.

However, I do not suggest arriving in Europe with no Euros. Buy a few to get you started. As a cautionary tale, last year I travelled to Europe with a friend who did not buy any Euros before leaving home. Unfortunately she was unable to withdraw any from several ATMs for the first few days (her card was not the right kind) and I had to finance all her purchases during that time. Had my friend been traveling alone, she would have been up the creek (in this case, the Danube) without a paddle. We began our trip in Frankfurt, where the ECB is located, so we were not exactly in the banking boonies. Moral of the story: always have a contingency plan.
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Old 01-09-2015, 02:02 PM   #11
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I guess my question was not clear and I apologize for the confusion. I appreciate the ATM suggestions and that is the procedure I have used in the past. My question is should I buy some Euros now given the value of the Euro vs. the dollar. Or, would you wait for the summer?

My SIL is going to Europe. He is willing to buy some Euros from an ATM. I just do not follow currencies enough to know if waiting makes sense or if I should take advantage of the lower rate now.
Unless his crystal ball is better than mine, I'd rather not go all in making a prediction on a currency play. My point was, if you are going to buy Euros in the USA with US dollars, you are probably going to go somewhere which gives you a terrible exchange rate -- maybe even bad enough that if they *did* make the right prediction on the direction (i.e. euros will rise vis-a-vis the dollar in the months to come), they've lost all of it on the exchange rate.

No, I just have a hard time seeing the math work for that in the average case (or even all but the most unusual case). Unless the dollar positively craters against the Euro in the months ahead -- and while I don't follow the forex markets, I know of no economic or political situation that makes it seem particularly likely -- any "gains" made by being on the right side of the trade will get eaten up by fees and bad exchange rates if they exchange dollars for euros here.

I'd relax and just pay the 0-1% at an ATM when I needed the money, and also know I was getting the best exchange rates available to the typical foreign traveler. As I recall when we went to England we'd just pull out about 100 pounds at a time when we needed it. (And we needed it more than we expected because our credit cards were often rejected because they were not of the pin-and-chip variety.) Maybe I'd start with 100 Euros before I got there just to be safe, but other than that, I'd just withdraw as I needed it once there.
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Old 01-09-2015, 08:11 PM   #12
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I typically order around $50 of whatever currency I might want ahead of time, then get the rest there.

I don't have a crystal ball either, so I don't sweat figuring if it will go up or down. The trip is the thing. .

We ordered pounds, euros, rubles, and I think a couple of others (maybe Czech and Romanian) before our overland trip last summer, just so we'd have something if crossing borders late at night or whatever.

++1 on the Schwab investor checking debit card. Get you a bit of money ahead and then just pick up more when you get to an ATM over there.

Have fun and ride safely!


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Old 01-09-2015, 08:50 PM   #13
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I also believe the Euro will continue to drop.

We have expensive Euros left over from last year.
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:02 PM   #14
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Wait until you get there, or just prior. You never know what may happen between now and then. No change in the currency will be that drastic to make a difference one way or another.
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:19 PM   #15
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The Euro has fallen from 140 to 117 in a short time, if the question were should I wait to buy stocks until this summer or buy now, all the advice would be to buy now, which is what you should do, currencies fluctuate and the Euro is more likely to be higher by summer than lower, due to the dramatic downward fluctuation, I would buy the money I would need now and lock in the cost for summer vacation at 117 rather than let it float and see what I might pay, seems logical to me. I would take the 20 percent discount while it is available
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:34 PM   #16
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Unfortunately she was unable to withdraw any from several ATMs for the first few days (her card was not the right kind) and I had to finance all her purchases during that time.
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.
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Old 01-09-2015, 11:35 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by davef View Post
I guess my question was not clear and I apologize for the confusion. I appreciate the ATM suggestions and that is the procedure I have used in the past. My question is should I buy some Euros now given the value of the Euro vs. the dollar. Or, would you wait for the summer?

My SIL is going to Europe. He is willing to buy some Euros from an ATM. I just do not follow currencies enough to know if waiting makes sense or if I should take advantage of the lower rate now.

Thanks again.

Think about it.... If any of us could reliably predict the Euro/dollar rate this summer, we wouldn't be wasting our very valuable time talking to you about it! We would be jetting off to Tahiti to spend a little of our delayed foreign exchange arbitrage earnings we made with our fortune telling ability
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Old 01-09-2015, 11:54 PM   #18
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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.
Helen, I do not recall exactly the type of card she had. It was a debit card with either Plus or Interac on a major Canadian bank. I use a different Canadian bank (one with a greater international footprint) and I had no problem withdrawing money from the same ATMs using my debit card. But I did bring cash with me also.
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Old 01-10-2015, 04:08 AM   #19
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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.
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Old 01-10-2015, 06:00 AM   #20
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AAA also can provide foreign currency if you are a member. I know they do Canadian money; pretty sure they do Euros too.


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