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Converting $ to Euros
Old 01-11-2016, 09:14 PM   #1
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Converting $ to Euros

I tried to find a similar thread, as I am sure someone has asked this before, but could not find and answer. Where will we find the best exchange rate when we travel to Spain and Italy? I will be checking with our bank for advice and on-line conversations say ATMs are ok; however, I am sure our seasoned travelers here will have tried and true experiences that will help us.

We will have to spend at least $1,000 in cash at the different venues we plan on attending.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 01-11-2016, 09:58 PM   #2
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We always get it at the ATM once we land. Depending on who your bank is - you can get no foreign transaction fees, no ATM fees. I have Schwab Bank and it's awesome for this.

If you're worried about getting enough in a short order (for paying for a vacation rental for example) you can use more than one account. Or if you have two people on an account - both can pull out the max Euros. I think Schwab limited to 500Euro per day per person.

We used credit cards with no foreign transaction fees for everything we could. I used Capital One Venture and Penfed Visa. But some landlords required cash payments when we arrived at their vacation apartments... I just hit ATMs ahead of arriving.
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Old 01-11-2016, 10:05 PM   #3
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here are a couple of recent threads

Euro conversion
Get Euros now or later
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Old 01-14-2016, 03:41 PM   #4
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I've had several trips to Europe, including Italy, and find that my Chase debit card at the ATM is a good deal. Decent exchange rate and no extra fee.
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Old 01-14-2016, 04:31 PM   #5
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I've had several trips to Europe, including Italy, and find that my Chase debit card at the ATM is a good deal. Decent exchange rate and no extra fee.
You probably paid a 3% foreign transaction fee. That's the fee charged by most US banks. That's a hefty fee, but it takes some work to find a bank ATM card that does not charge it.

I use the Schwab Bank ATM for 0 foreign transaction fees. And a backup is the Fidelity Cash Management ATM card which charges 1%. Both refund ATM fees.

http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banki...onal-atm-fees/
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Old 01-14-2016, 04:40 PM   #6
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We too use ATM's in airports and train stations--bank branded ATM's. Beware that there are non-bank ATM's around too, but they will not provide you with the best exchange rates.

Any time we can use a credit card when traveling, we will use it because we get "miles" rebates on future travel. But when we do get cash out, it'll be in denominations of $200 or so out of the ATM's.

My credit union gives me full credit for the currency exchange day by day on ATM's. My Capital One credit card does rip me off on currency conversion either. My Wells Fargo checking account charges $5 per transaction and 3% discount so we avoid them.

The last couple of days before I come home, it's almost comical watching me ration out spending to where I come home with no Euros in hand. Get down to 20 Euros, and McDonalds in the airport can take it all for breakfast for 2.
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Old 01-14-2016, 04:41 PM   #7
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+1 for the Schwab debit card.

This is the only card I use for ATM withdrawals both at home and abroad. No foreign transaction fees and they reimburse any ATM fees.
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Old 01-14-2016, 04:45 PM   #8
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Another one here. I opened a Schwab brokerage account because of this card, and it has served me very well in a number of countries for cash.
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Old 01-14-2016, 04:47 PM   #9
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The last couple of days before I come home, it's almost comical watching me ration out spending to where I come home with no Euros in hand. Get down to 20 Euros, and McDonalds in the airport can take it all for breakfast for 2.
I do the opposite. I always try to come home with a couple of hundred euros so I'll have some in my pocket the next time I go there.

If it's a one-of trip, that won't work. But if you plan on going back to the eurozone in the next couple of years, it's worth it.
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Old 01-14-2016, 04:55 PM   #10
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The last couple of days before I come home, it's almost comical watching me ration out spending to where I come home with no Euros in hand. Get down to 20 Euros, and McDonalds in the airport can take it all for breakfast for 2.
We usually bring at least 100 Euros back and save them for the next year.

If you are using a VISA debit card/ATM card, you will get a standard Euro exchange rate each day determined by VISA, and it can be looked up on this web site for a particular date: https://usa.visa.com/support/consume...lculator.html/

Any fees on top of that are determined by your bank - whether it's their foreign transaction % fee and/or some $ ATM withdrawal fee for using a non-bank ATM or a foreign ATM. There might then be fees imposed by the local ATM.

My experience in Europe, and I only went to ATMs attached to banks plus one at the airport, is that fees were charged by the European banks. I think that's pretty standard. I avoided non-bank ATMs.
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-ti...chine-atm-tips

And I would usually try to hit the bank ATM during open hours just in case the ATM "ate my card" which I had occasionally read about.

Another tip - European ATMs only handle 4 digit PINs.
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Old 01-14-2016, 09:52 PM   #11
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BTW - that VISA link is also good for checking the conversion rates on the credit card purchases.

If you are withdrawing funds from your VISA logo debit card, the date of the withdrawal will determine the exchange rate.

For credit card charges, the posting date is the one that determines the exchange rate used. And depending, this can be several days after the transaction date.
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Old 01-15-2016, 01:28 AM   #12
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Also, I believe the ATM daily withdrawal limits are based on a calendar day in your bank's time zone - not a 24 hour period.


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Old 01-15-2016, 03:47 AM   #13
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I have to agree with the Schwab bank ATM (or others that cover the fees and give you the Visa conversion rates).
For larger amounts (when my son moved overseas for a year of study), I converted using a Forex transaction and had the money wired to his bank account in the other country.
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Old 01-15-2016, 09:01 AM   #14
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I had no trouble withdrawing large amounts, btw, like €600.

But I called the bank before leaving to know what my ATM limits (per withdrawal and per day) were. They can be set higher if too low.
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Old 01-15-2016, 09:01 AM   #15
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The last couple of days before I come home, it's almost comical watching me ration out spending to where I come home with no Euros in hand. Get down to 20 Euros, and McDonalds in the airport can take it all for breakfast for 2.
DH does the same thing--I can't tell you how many boxes of candy we've bought from airport gift shops. Part of the ritual. I get why people bring home euros and hang on to them for the next trip but we've never done that and probably won't start now. No problem, they always make nice fresh euros while we're gone and wow, they are considerably cheaper than when we were there four years ago (not that exchange rate is a factor in bringing them home or not). Back then, $1.40ish; today, $1.09.

We have a June trip to Germany in the works and will use our local bank's ATM with its 1 percent foreign transaction fee when we get there to pull out some cash, and our no fee Visa card for purchases that don't need cash (pretty much most purchases)
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Old 01-15-2016, 09:07 AM   #16
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I had no trouble withdrawing large amounts, btw, like €600.

But I called the bank before leaving to know what my ATM limits (per withdrawal and per day) were. They can be set higher if too low.
I've think I've done 1k pounds and 1k NZ $ on the credit card.

But when my son went to Japan for a year, I populated his account with the expected living expense for the year, and I was not in country.
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Old 01-15-2016, 09:09 AM   #17
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Everyone else has this pretty well covered but I'll lend my support to getting either a Schwab or Fidelity ATM card. Both reimburse ATM fees. Fidelity charges a really good (by bank standards) 1% FX conversion fee. Schwab charges and even better 0%.

But most importantly, whatever you do, . . . Do Not Exchange Money At the Airport. On a recent trip to Greece I was traveling with a relative who didn't have an ATM card and was planning to exchange hundreds of dollars when we landed. Between the awful exchange rate and the added fees converting dollars to Euros would have cost 20%. And then if you exchange back, that's another 20%.

We've sometimes found better rates in town, but often times they're just as bad. We never exchange money.

Have fun.
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Old 01-15-2016, 09:18 AM   #18
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You can sometimes find exchange for about 3%, which is the same as most bank ATM cards.

I found a bank in Vienna that was only charging about 1.1% and no fees - quite good. This was the Bankhaus Schelhammer und Schattera AG, which is apparently affiliated with some church. I found out about it from various travel forums before leaving on my trip. The even publish their rates online - you need to translate German.

But avoid Travelex type places. Fees are high.
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Old 01-16-2016, 08:45 AM   #19
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You probably paid a 3% foreign transaction fee. That's the fee charged by most US banks. That's a hefty fee, but it takes some work to find a bank ATM card that does not charge it.


Debit Card Foreign Transaction and ATM Fees - NerdWallet
I check very carefully. I did have a foreign exchange conversion of course, but no extra fee on top of that.
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Old 01-16-2016, 09:02 AM   #20
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I check very carefully. I did have a foreign exchange conversion of course, but no extra fee on top of that.
If you look at the link, Chase charges 3% for foreign exchange conversion on their ATM cards, so it's in there somewhere. It may have been built into the conversion rate.
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