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Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

New York
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Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

Hi TA,

Leaving for Paris in a few weeks...SO EXCITED! First time there.

Would love advice on whether it is best to pay for things (restaurants, stores, taxis, etc.) in euros or to use my bank debit card or credit cards, or both. I know most credit cards charge a fee for foreign transactions. Also, this may sound a bit cliche, but do most establishments take American Express? I absolutely use it for everything here in the US, as I hardly carry money with me here.

Is it best to use ATM's to convert dollars to euros? Wondering how you handle the money/currency/paying for things situation. The easiest, safest, cheapest way.

Thanks so much!! I could not have planned this trip without you guys (and girls) on TA!!!!

Edited: 22 June 2014, 22:03
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Sydney, Australia
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for Train Travel
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1. Re: Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

Amex is not widely accepted in France because of its high merchant fees. Visa and MasterCard are better.

To get euros, use a debit card in ATMs.

Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

You may not be able to use your debit card to pay for purchases, but you can use it to withdraw cash (Euro) at ATM. Better do it with someone watching your back if on street, or better do it inside a bank.

For smaller purchases usually cash, for bigger CC, but as Nick mentioned Amex is not accepted everywhere.

Paris, France
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3. Re: Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

I tend to pay for a lot of things with cash. You'll find that some stores/ restaurants will be cash only, or they may have a minimum amount for a credit card purchase.

As Nick has mentioned AMEX is not widely accepted, except by the SNCF for train tickets.

Your debit card should be fine for purchases, when it's run a a "credit" transaction.

Be sure to let your bank know that you will be in France. Also learn about their daily ATM withdrawal limits and any associated fees.

Edited: 22 June 2014, 22:19
New York
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4. Re: Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

Great advice! Do you know if the actual Paris bank ATM charges a fee in addition to any fees my bank may charge for withdrawing euro from ATM's? Also, silly question, but: is the conversion rate from US dollars to euro usually the "rate of the day" at ATM's? (Is it the same as if I were to stand in line in a Paris bank to convert to euro?) Thanks, as always!!

Saratoga Springs, NY
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5. Re: Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

Amex is accepted in plenty of places though - probably more than 50%.

We have an Amex with no fees and a chip. We have a Mastercard with 1% fees and chip and pin.

We only use debit cards for cash withdrawals at ATMs (French banks do not charge a fee for this). I would not use my debit card to purchase items as I do in the US. I do worry about security, and my debit card does not have a chip. Plus, if a transaction goes wrong with the debit card, you don't have the same protections as with Mastercard or Amex.

Le Bugue, France
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6. Re: Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

French banks do not charge for ATM withdrawals. Your bank may, though.

You will get the best currency exchange rate by using an ATM. Unless you have an account in a French bank, you won't be able to stand in a bank line. Moreover, most French banks don't even offer currency exchange services or even anything that involves handling cash.

New York
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7. Re: Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

Great advice!! I will make sure the credit cards I bring have chips in them. :)

Paris, France
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8. Re: Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

You really don't need cards with chips unless you can get a chip and pin. Most available in the US are chip and signature, with is really not an advantage.

New York
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9. Re: Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

StCirq- Wow, great to know! Gone are the days when I converted $ standing in a European bank! And I'm not that old at all!! LOL

Florida
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10. Re: Euro vs bank debit card vs credit card

I use a Visa credit card for larger purchases (hotel, metro passes, museum passes, some dinners...). Otherwise, cash for lunches, some dinners, small entrance fees, beverages, cheap souvenirs, etc. This cash is obtained from ATMs with my credit union (no fees) Debit card, funded specifically for travel.