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Buying Euros

New York
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Buying Euros

Is is better to buy euros before leaving the States or to wait and buy them in France or Italy? Also what is the best source for buying Euros? US and Europe.

Has anyone figured out the best way to make purchases overseas now that Master Card & Visa are imposing a 3% transaction fee for purchases made overseas? Is American Express also imposing this transaction fee?

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1. Re: Buying Euros

I like to purchase about 100€ here in the states before I leave so I don't have to hassle with getting cab money at CDG. Check with your bank, they should have at least one branch that keeps them on hand.

As far as getting €uros once you are there, the ATM machine is the way to go. Again, check with your bank about their currency conversion fees. I went thru my credit union which only charges 1% and no foriegn ATM fee. Several forum regulars have also contacted Capital One who also has a low fee.

you might also do a search on the forum with phrases like "buying euros" or "exhange rates" or "money"... there's tons of information

2. Re: Buying Euros

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New York
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3. Re: Buying Euros

JustGrace & Totally Clueless: Thanks so much for your insight. I've come to the conclusion that the commercial banks probably have the best exchange rate for buying euros. Citibank was quoting $1.28 yesterday while the online vendors were quoting $1.334.

If anyone has a Washingtion Mutual bank in their neighborhood it may be a good source for ATM transactions. They have announced in our local NY news that they will not charge for ATM transactions anywhere in the world. Worth looking into. I think Totally Clueless is right - no credit card purchases - pay with local currency and get it through an ATM.

Thanks again for both of your responses.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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4. Re: Buying Euros

I travelled with about 100 euros and was quite comfortable - enough for a cab and that morning's breakfast.

Wells Fargo does not charge to exchange over 100 dollars. And yes, there is a surcharge with American Express (I think it is 1.5%) If your debit card has a MC or Visa logo on it and you don't use your PIN with it, you wil incur the 3% fee. If you do use your PIN, depending on your bank, there could also be a fee involved.

Cash is good - no fees.

Kensington, MD...
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5. Re: Buying Euros

Those are horrible rates. Today's wholesale rate is around $1.22 and you shouldn't have to pay more than about 5% mark-up. If it's not absolutely essential that you have some euros, just stop at an ATM (NOT a change bureau) at the airport.

New York
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6. Re: Buying Euros

How do I get the $1.22 rate? What source???

Carmel, California
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7. Re: Buying Euros

sarahretires, we just got back from a trip to Italy and France and here's what we did.

*Purchased 200 Euros from my bank, took $250 in cash with us. It is a lot better to have a couple of day's worth of spending money than spending time finding an ATM when you first arrive.

*Paid the exact same conversion fee in Florence to go from Dollar to Euros for the $250.

*Used Capital 1 credit card along with a backup Visa card (always have a backup because although we called both credit card companies, half way through the trip, Cap. 1 put a fraud alert stop on our purchases, so we had to start using the 2%-3% transaction fee Visa card)

*Used ATM's to get cash outside of the major cities (heard we could get better rates)--don't forget to call your bank too about your travel plans.

good luck!

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Kensington, MD...
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8. Re: Buying Euros

You can't get the wholesale rate. That's reserved for currency traders. But you shouldn't be paying too much more--it's pure profit for your bank. I can understand the desire not to spend time in an unfamiliar airport looking for an ATM (although they are quite easy to find at CDG). Follow the advice to only purchase $100 worth of euros. Check with American Express. They seem to generally have pretty good purchase rates at their offices. Major European cities are just like major American cities--there's an ATM on every corner. You won't spend a big chunk of your vacation time looking for one. Without exception, taking money from an ATM is the most economical way of paying for your purchases.

But as I always advise travellers, unless you're planning on spending a huge amount of money, a few cents here or there won't make a big difference. Think about it this way, if you spend $10,000 on your vacation (a huge amount by most people's standards) and you have to pay 2 cents more by using your VISA card instead of your ATM card, you've blown $200. Hardly a major crisis if you have the $10K to start with!

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9. Re: Buying Euros

I just charge a deposit to my Capital One Visa CC for a hotel reservation deposit. On my statement I got Saturday I was charged the rate of currency exchange of 1.19

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10. Re: Buying Euros

Count me as another advocate of arriving with approx 100 €uor of local currency. There's no question that the rates offered by departure airport Bureau de Change are lousy...but on an amount this small, this won't amount to more than a dollar or two at most. The advantage of arriving with local currency readily-in-hand is that you will be able to hit-the-ground-running immediately upon arrival. You won't have to search out ATMs in a strange airport, or wait in line to use one, or discover that the system it temporarily 'down' or that there is a problem with your card. 100 € will be more than sufficient in most instances to pay any airport transfer fares into Paris and cover any immediate needs. Once at your location in Paris, you can locate the local neighborhood ATMs. If there are any difficulties, it's better that you deal with them in Paris rather than out at the airport.