Ignore the part about exchanging cash at Jax airport, I just realised that isn't an option.
Normally, here in the UK, it is best change your money in advance thru a specialist broker usually online. But don't know if they have such there in the USA. Check rates at your local bank for order, and maybe buy from them or at ATL. you wont need much, as you can use your debit card to get more out of ATMs while there. I tend to use my CCs more than cash in general.
Dont forget to call all card providers before you go to let them know where and when you'll be travelling or they could be blocked.
You may get some good info on this on the Airline travel forum.
I'd wait to exchange money until you get to the UK. Exchange rates at airports are horrendous. Try to make it to a bank in the UK, or just withdrawal money from your debit card at a UK ATM in the airport.
I never exchange money in this country. I always withdraw money in the local currency from the ATM at the airport right after I arrive in the country I am going to. The ATMs let you choose the language you want to use, and then the screen leads you through the withdrawal process. It is very easy. You get the official rate of exchange when you withdraw local currency from an ATM.
If you get euro in this country you will be charged at least several percentage points of the total amount to do it.
-Be sure to call both your credit card company and your debit card company and tell them when and where you will be using your cards overseas. If you don't do that they are liable to block use of your cards, thinking you cards have been stolen!
-You also need call Customer Service for your cards to find out how much the credit card companies will charge you to use them in Europe. Some cards have no added fees, but some of them charge as much as 5% of everything you charge! If your card company is going to charge fees, get a card that doesn't have added fees like Capitol One or Schwab. If you don't have time to get a new card, pay for things in cash.
-And get the toll free number to call while in Europe if you lose your credit/debit cards so that the card companies can be notified of the problem.
Ben, the OP is not going to the UK, but to Brussels- in Belgium?
Yeah, that's what I meant, but by the time I tried to edit my post, it was too late. My advice remains the same: exchange cash at the OPs final destination, either at a bank outside of the airport, or via ATM anywhere.
yeah, that is what you meant- 2 different countries, 2 different currencies?
you could have posted saving me the trouble even after the (stupidly short) edit time. I had to post so as to not let it go. If you'd mentioned any other country in the eurozone, it would have been correct.
But here's the thing. Have you ever been to europe? Arriving on say, a sunday night?: Atms could be empty as they don't get filled til monday am. I have actually been to an ATM in european public transport hub that was empty. Taking a few could be handy. I always take some money in local currency even if just a small amt.
But unless you are talking a taxi fare, most places now take cards.
Your post confuses me. Innocent mistake. I said the UK, meant Brussels, but I could have said Congo, Beijing, or New Zealand and the point would have been the same. The OP asked a pretty simple question: best method to exchange currency. The US airport system (JAX, ATL) is not a good place to get currency. I gave a pretty simple answer: (1) ATM at airport of destination (2) a bank outside the airport of destination.
Have you ever been to Europe? (Stupid question, I know you have, as you're from the UK; you know I have, from my TA travel map.) Anyone who has done a TATL flight from the US to EUR would know they're arriving very early in the morning, probably between 5:45 and 10:00 a.m. Highly (99.9999%) unlikely any airport ATM will be out of money. Also highly unlikely anyone will be coming in at nighttime to an empty ATM. So I'm not sure what you're "Sunday night" hypothetical is about...
Futhermore, you say "taking a few could be handy"...sure, it could, if the OP had some Euros laying around, which she obviously doesn't. The US isn't a handy place to get Euros. Luckily, Brussels is ;)
Really don't know how I've inconvenienced you or "troubled you" (your words) by a harmless error. Please accept my (completely unnecessary & moot) apology.
Thanks very much for all of your comments, much appreciated :)
Ben, your advice was sound. Spirit gave good advice as well. For our original poster, I would definitely wait until you get to Europe to get some currency. I have never encountered an 'out of money' ATM. And if you did encounter one, there will be another one very close by. I realize that many people are a bit nervous traveling to another country without some of the local currency in hand, but it will not be a problem. Let's just say that every single ATM (including the currency exchange booth) at the Brussels airport is out of money and you're taking a taxi to your hotel. Trust me, the taxi driver will find you an ATM.
And to add to Spirit's advice about credit card phone numbers, I usually copy the backs of my cards with all of the contact info and simply email the image to myself. In the event that I do need to contact a credit card company, all of the contact info is in my email account.
Enjoy your trip!