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Buying currency before travel
Old 05-02-2016, 04:56 PM   #1
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Buying currency before travel

Most folks here are well aware of this situation, but I had an interesting experience this morning.

When I travel abroad, my practice has always been to get local cash from an ATM. Using my Schwab bank debit card, there are no fees, so it's pretty economical.

But a couple of my new neighbors commented that they love using the local Chase bank branch when they travel because they can get Euros or whatever at the best rate and there is no fee.

So I happened to pass by the Chase bank this morning and went in to ask what they charged to buy Euros.

"Oh there's no fee of any kind, as long as you have an account with us."

"Great," I replied, "Where do you get the exchange rate?"

"Well, we just put in the request and the system tells us what it will be."

"Hmm. Could you put in a request for me but cancel it, so I can see what it would cost today?"

"Sure." And out came the answer: 1 Euro would cost US$1.2219.

I thanked them, went outside and opened XE.com on my phone to see that the actual exchange rate was $1.1509.

That's a 6% premium they charge, which is pretty outrageous IMHO.

Caveat emptor.
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Old 05-02-2016, 05:00 PM   #2
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That's a 6% premium they charge, which is pretty outrageous IMHO.

Caveat emptor.
That's crazy. I like your way better - use a local ATM there with your Schwab cash card. That's what I'm going to do.
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Old 05-02-2016, 05:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
Most folks here are well aware of this situation, but I had an interesting experience this morning.

When I travel abroad, my practice has always been to get local cash from an ATM. Using my Schwab bank debit card, there are no fees, so it's pretty economical.

But a couple of my new neighbors commented that they love using the local Chase bank branch when they travel because they can get Euros or whatever at the best rate and there is no fee.

So I happened to pass by the Chase bank this morning and went in to ask what they charged to buy Euros.

"Oh there's no fee of any kind, as long as you have an account with us."

"Great," I replied, "Where do you get the exchange rate?"

"Well, we just put in the request and the system tells us what it will be."

"Hmm. Could you put in a request for me but cancel it, so I can see what it would cost today?"

"Sure." And out came the answer: 1 Euro would cost US$1.2219.

I thanked them, went outside and opened XE.com on my phone to see that the actual exchange rate was $1.1509.

That's a 6% premium they charge, which is pretty outrageous IMHO.

Caveat emptor.
6% is exactly what BofA charges. You can find their rate on line and order online. So large, but common.

After the first trip, bring back a ~€200 so you have something handy for cab or whatever when you arrive. Then use ATM. That's what we do.

Assuming you return to Europe every year.
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Old 05-02-2016, 05:52 PM   #4
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Outrageous or not, They are providing a service you need. I suspect that you only want a few hundred dollars changed. Therefore your fee will be maybe $20. Is that outrageous ? In my opinion - no. Some money changers have worse exchange rates and add a commission fee on top of that.

What else are you going to do before you can get to that foreign ATM ? How are you going to pay for that taxi to your hotel and maybe something to eat ?
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Old 05-02-2016, 06:37 PM   #5
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Outrageous or not, They are providing a service you need. I suspect that you only want a few hundred dollars changed. Therefore your fee will be maybe $20. Is that outrageous ? In my opinion - no. Some money changers have worse exchange rates and add a commission fee on top of that.

What else are you going to do before you can get to that foreign ATM ? How are you going to pay for that taxi to your hotel and maybe something to eat ?
Most definitely not a service I need. I always keep some currency from my last trip for exactly this purpose. Anyway, there is always an ATM in the airport, so it's a snap to grab some cash there and get more at a bank's ATM in town.

Agreed that the currency exchange counters have even more atrocious rates, so I've always steered clear of them.
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Old 05-02-2016, 08:49 PM   #6
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Our last few overseas trips have required so little cash that it hasn't been worth shopping the rates. Just pull about $200 each out of the airport ATM - done. Anything at the end of the trip goes towards our hotel bill via the front desk at checkout - great way to get rid of all that loose change that builds up during a trip.
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Old 05-03-2016, 09:45 PM   #7
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DH had no trouble getting money at the airport in Marrakesh nor in other decent sized cities in Morocco (at least judging by the hits on our Schwab account). He took some (new bills) cash along, just in case, though.

We had a WHO doc and nurse tell me once when we were in Belize (they were both Scandinavian) that bar none, you could always get someone to take a US $20 bill, in any country in the world! And then told a story about landing in Uganda in the middle of the night and needing a taxi, and the $20 bill was all the driver needed to see.

He did say not many places took credit cards there, but that's back of beyond travel, not in cities.
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