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Prepaid debit cards, euro-denominated
Old 03-07-2017, 07:29 PM   #1
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Prepaid debit cards, euro-denominated

I did a quick Google search on this but didn't find what I was looking for.

I would like to give a prepaid debit card denominated in euros to someone who will be traveling there. From what I saw in my search, if the card is denominated in US$ each use is likely to incur a hefty conversion fee to convert into euros. My thinking is that if I could buy one in the US already denominated in euros these fees might be avoided. Do such cards exist? Where does one get them? Are there hidden rip offs associated with them? Tales of any experience, good or bad, would be much appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old 03-07-2017, 07:47 PM   #2
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I have heard about the Travelex card, but the fees are too high to make it worthwhile.

https://www.travelex.com/cash-passport

The Euro is currently 1.057 USD, but Travelex is charging you 1.163 USD per Euro. That's 10% more!!! I've never seen exchange fees that high. I'll stick with my no transaction fee credit and debit cards, thanks. Even my 1% debit card is way better.

Use ATMs and pay cash.
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Old 03-07-2017, 08:34 PM   #3
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I have heard about the Travelex card, but the fees are too high to make it worthwhile.

https://www.travelex.com/cash-passport

The Euro is currently 1.057 USD, but Travelex is charging you 1.163 USD per Euro. That's 10% more!!! I've never seen exchange fees that high. I'll stick with my no transaction fee credit and debit cards, thanks. Even my 1% debit card is way better.

Use ATMs and pay cash.
Thanks. This is for someone else - sort of a bon voyage gift. Probably easier to just get a nice crisp 100 euro note and put it in a "have a great trip" card.
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Old 03-07-2017, 08:51 PM   #4
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Thanks. This is for someone else - sort of a bon voyage gift. Probably easier to just get a nice crisp 100 euro note and put it in a "have a great trip" card.
It might cost you 5-6% plus a fee to order currency like that. But it might be worth it to you for a gift. I have ordered foreign currency from Bank of America before. Other major banks probably provide this service.
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Old 03-07-2017, 11:45 PM   #5
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We will be going to Europe the first time this Spring
DW wants to get some cash before we go to have Euro's in hand. Where should we do this and any recommendations on how much ?

I did get a Schwab debit card and Barclay Arrival + card based on discussions here. I was thinking I'd phone Barclay to be sure the pin will work over there.
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Old 03-07-2017, 11:49 PM   #6
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Probably the easiest will be to order it from your bank. Their exchange rate won't be great, but it will be more convenient.
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Old 03-08-2017, 01:39 AM   #7
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You'd do best to just give $100 cash to your friend and let them deposit it in his checking account so it'll be available for ATM withdrawal once they get there.

My Wells Fargo ATM charges $5 plus 5% of the amount advanced for transactions in Europe. That's excessive. My credit union ATM card has no charges and advances 100% of the current currency rate.

When we arrive in Europe, we'll be looking for the first bank owned ATM--not Travelex or American Express ATM machines. And we'll never obtain cash at a bank in person. Bank ATM's give you the best exchange rates.

Whenever we can use our Capital One Visa card, it's used to minimize cash withdrawals. It gives me 100% of the currency exchange. We're looking forward to leaving in 3 weeks for a 1 month trip to Portugal, Spain, Italy & Hungary.
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Old 03-08-2017, 06:00 AM   #8
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Probably the easiest will be to order it from your bank. Their exchange rate won't be great, but it will be more convenient.
My experience is that you need very little if any cash starting out. You can always hit an ATM at the airport for enought to get a meal, a beer and cab fare to town if you need it. Once you're settled in your digs you can worry about a larger amount for general expenses. (ATMs at the airport may have a less favorable exchange rate than banks in town.) I normally charge most things during the trip so haven't found I needed a lot of cash. Before you go apply for a cc w/no foreign transaction fee if you don't already have one. If you have a chip-enabled card w/a PIN you will find it easier than an "American style" with only the magnetic stripe.
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Old 03-08-2017, 07:36 AM   #9
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Right - it's always cheaper to get $$ from an ATM immediately upon arrival in Europe, especially if you have a debit/ATM card with 0% foreign transaction fee like Schwab bank or Fidelity Cash Management debit card. Note that most US bank ATM cards charge 3% FTF and some an additional $ fee on top of that. Still cheaper than buying Euros in the US. I forget whether Capitol One offers a 0% FTF ATM card.

Interestingly, when we arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport (Paris) we were expecting HSBC ATMs, but they were all labeled Travelex. But it turned out they were ordinary ATM machines and charged no fees. There are definitely Travelex counters and different kinds of machines that you want to avoid, but if what looks like an ordinary ATM in an airport says Travelex, if might be just an ordinary ATM and OK to use if there are no other ATMs around. Sometimes an airport contracts with just one company to provide ATMs.
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:26 AM   #10
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My experience is that you need very little if any cash starting out. You can always hit an ATM at the airport for enought to get a meal, a beer and cab fare to town if you need it. Once you're settled in your digs you can worry about a larger amount for general expenses. (ATMs at the airport may have a less favorable exchange rate than banks in town.) I normally charge most things during the trip so haven't found I needed a lot of cash. Before you go apply for a cc w/no foreign transaction fee if you don't already have one. If you have a chip-enabled card w/a PIN you will find it easier than an "American style" with only the magnetic stripe.
Yes. I watched (and laughed to myself) while DH exchanged $100 into quetzales at an airport exchange counter. He probably paid an extra $10 for the "convenience" but it was important to him to exchange asap. He was touched that the nice people behind the counter offered him a cheaper rate if he exchanged another $100 or two. We never needed the first batch of cash

I think the OP's idea of a 100 euro note would be a very nice gesture even if it costs a little more to get it at the bank.
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:29 AM   #11
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Just came back from a month overseas and used my Schwab debit card solely to get any needed cash. As stated they reimburse any fees and give decent exchange rates, much better rates then you'll get if you try and exchange at your local bank. I always take a few $100 notes with me for emergencies but rarely if ever have to use them.
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:40 AM   #12
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Just so you know Schwab (and Fidelity) ATM cards use the VISA exchange rate for the day. Same as VISA credit cards - except the credit cards use the rate on the day that the transaction is posted rather than the actual day of the transaction.

VISA has their method of calculating the exchange rate - it's based on the prior business day Forex rates, and the most favorable end of the range for VISA. But close enough, especially during periods with little change in rates.

You get this same exchange rate on all VISA transactions whether debit or credit, no matter which bank issued the card. Your bank may charge additional % on top of that for foreign transactions. But if you have a no FTF card, it will be identical to the VISA rate.

VISA actually charges all banks a 1% rate on foreign transactions, but banks who issue you 0% foreign transaction fee cards do not pass that 1% on to you - they are basically eating that fee. So it's a nice perk!
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:51 AM   #13
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(ATMs at the airport may have a less favorable exchange rate than banks in town.)
The ATM does not control the exchange rate (assuming its a regular ATM and not some funky currency exchange kiosk). It just charges your bank/card issuer in the local currency. Your card type (like VISA) controls your exchange rate and your bank may add extra fees/% charge on top of that.

In other words - don't worry about looking for ATMs that have better exchange rates. Just pay attention to added fees. In most of our Europe travels none of the ATMs charged fees. In Barcelona I finally ran into some fee charging ATMs and had to try several banks before I found one that didn't. Schwab or Fidelity would have reimbursed that fee, but they were high and I didn't want to give the banks with fees my business!
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Old 03-08-2017, 09:33 AM   #14
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We will be going to Europe the first time this Spring
DW wants to get some cash before we go to have Euro's in hand. Where should we do this and any recommendations on how much ?

I did get a Schwab debit card and Barclay Arrival + card based on discussions here. I was thinking I'd phone Barclay to be sure the pin will work over there.
I used my Barclay Arrival+ card in England last summer and it worked just fine for me. The thing I like about this card is that...OK, well I guess there are several...(a) no FTF, (b) they let you set the PIN, and (c) the PIN works both for a US-style ATM PIN *and* for a European-style chip-and-PIN PIN.

As for your first question, I wouldn't bother personally. Any airport you fly into will have plentiful ATMs before you even get to the front door. I use my USAA bank debit card (to avoid cash advance fees) and get out a few hundred $ equivalent in the foreign currency. Takes two minutes tops.

And nowadays, even that might be a little too much. We were just in Dubai and India for 17 days, and there was only one place in India - a restaurant in the middle of nowhere - that didn't take cards. Everywhere else, including a trinket store in Khajuraho, took cards without blinking.
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:31 PM   #15
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I used my Barclay Arrival+ card in England last summer and it worked just fine for me. The thing I like about this card is that...OK, well I guess there are several...(a) no FTF, (b) they let you set the PIN, and (c) the PIN works both for a US-style ATM PIN *and* for a European-style chip-and-PIN PIN.

As for your first question, I wouldn't bother personally. Any airport you fly into will have plentiful ATMs before you even get to the front door. I use my USAA bank debit card (to avoid cash advance fees) and get out a few hundred $ equivalent in the foreign currency. Takes two minutes tops.

And nowadays, even that might be a little too much. We were just in Dubai and India for 17 days, and there was only one place in India - a restaurant in the middle of nowhere - that didn't take cards. Everywhere else, including a trinket store in Khajuraho, took cards without blinking.
I think we will do this as the banks are a pain:

I checked with Chase bank and BAC about buying Euros and HUF (Hungary Forinets?)
Both banks don't have any on hand. They order it and it comes in about 2 days which is an extra bother.

Chase for 200 Euros was $226 USD (about $16 extra). no mention of delivery fee.

BAC was for 100 Euros $111 USD (about $6 extra) plus delivery fee of $7.50 , if you order 1,000 then the delivery fee is waived.
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:57 PM   #16
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.....In other words - don't worry about looking for ATMs that have better exchange rates. Just pay attention to added fees. In most of our Europe travels none of the ATMs charged fees. In Barcelona I finally ran into some fee charging ATMs and had to try several banks before I found one that didn't. Schwab or Fidelity would have reimbursed that fee, but they were high and I didn't want to give the banks with fees my business!
Out of interest, how do you tell what ATM's are fee charging as I am assuming it will all be in foreign language on signs . ?
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Old 03-08-2017, 07:27 PM   #17
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I think we will do this as the banks are a pain:

I checked with Chase bank and BAC about buying Euros and HUF (Hungary Forinets?)
Both banks don't have any on hand. They order it and it comes in about 2 days which is an extra bother.

Chase for 200 Euros was $226 USD (about $16 extra). no mention of delivery fee.

BAC was for 100 Euros $111 USD (about $6 extra) plus delivery fee of $7.50 , if you order 1,000 then the delivery fee is waived.
Yes, and bank branches in general don't have foreign currency on hand, it has to be ordered. Some very large cities with big international trade may have exceptions.
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Old 03-08-2017, 07:30 PM   #18
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Out of interest, how do you tell what ATM's are fee charging as I am assuming it will all be in foreign language on signs . ?
You have to use the ATM machine to find out. Just cancel the transaction if you don't accept the fee.

Most ATMs will give you a language choice on the first screen, or automatically switch to English when you insert your card.
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