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Need advice regarding European travel

Discussion in 'European Timesharing' started by exyeh, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. exyeh

    exyeh TUG Member

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    Hi, my daughter is going to a solo Spain and France (Paris) trip, about 12 days. This is also her first time.(we have not been there, either). She is planning to use her credit card but surely would need some cash while she is there? My question is just about how much cash she needs to bring with her to this trip? She plans to do some foreign currency exchange here in the U.S. and like to have some idea about this. I would appreciate if any tugger give some adive? BTW, she is careful about spending money, not the type of spending a lot.
     
  2. secord

    secord TUG Member

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    A minimum of a 50 euros a day would be advisable. You need money for tips, smaller cafes, some types of transportation, outdoor markets etc.
     
  3. LisaH

    LisaH TUG Lifetime Member

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    The best way to get cash in a foreign country is to use the ATM machine there. Some bank charges a nominal fee (still better than exchanging at the bank in most cases), others waive the fee. I use First Rebulic ATM card when traveling overseas. Has been great so far.
     
  4. Pompey Family

    Pompey Family Guest

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    You don't need money for tips as it is not expected in Europe. In most places the service charge is included in the bill. If paying cash it's typical to leave a few coins behind but certainly nothing bigger and none of this percentage nonsense.
     
  5. Here There

    Here There TUG Member

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    I've taken multi-week solo trips to France, Belgium and UK for the past 3 years and have 2 separate 2+ week trips scheduled for 2018. I too am careful about spending money and find that it's easier to use the credit card to pay for most purchases incl. meals, admission fees, bus or metro fares, souvenir purchases, and the occasional cab fare. I have several travel-friendly cc's that don't charge foreign transaction fees and I might use one to pay for meals, another for transport, etc., to make it simpler to track the expenses. However some local currency is needed -- to spend at flea markets, produce stands, street food stalls, to tip (mandatory) the WC attendants, when it's clear that these vendors don't accept plastic then I have no choice but to use foreign money.

    I usually get an ATM withdrawal of, say, 100euros the moment I spot a handy* ATM and I find that amount of pocket money is adequate for a week or so. Whatever funds are left over will be spent on snacks or trinkets. Or stored away -- along with refillable transit passes -- for the next adventure.

    *note re "handy" ATMs -- your US bank may partner with global alliance banks so that you won't get charged a flat transaction fee to withdraw funds from their local ATMs. In my case it's Scotiabank in Canada, BNP in France, Barclay in UK...so the only fee I pay is a 3% exchange fee, which is way less than paying an extra $5 per withdrawal and affords me the luxury of withdrawing an extra 20euros if I need a bit more cash.

    additional pointers: https://thepointsguy.com/2016/05/save-on-overseas-atm-withdrawals/
     
    LisaH likes this.
  6. exyeh

    exyeh TUG Member

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    Thank you so much for all the information!! It is a very big help for us!! Tuggers are great!! Whenever I ask a question, the help come
    instantly!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  7. Tamino

    Tamino Guest

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    Sorry Here There but paying 3% on an ATM withdrawal is very expensive. The banks, such as Bank of America, which charge a fixed fee, typically $5, plus a percentage are thieves and their clientèle should really find a bank which wants their business.

    EU banks do not charge for ATM withdrawals. The exchange network, such as Maestro or Pulse, typically charges 1% of the transaction total as a currency conversion fee. Any other charges (foreign transaction fees) come directly from your local bank for no other reason than they want your money. Local banks do not provide any service specific to foreign ATM withdrawals.

    I would always travel with some cash but it need not be in any denomination other than US dollars. It is best to use EU bank ATMs to obtain euros. Obtaining euros while in the USA is very expensive and not necessary.

    Credit cards function similarly. However there is a huge difference in what they charge customers for international transactions. Capital One 360, USAA, and Andrews FCU, among others, offer credit cards which charge you the least for international transactions - typically 0% which means they refund the 1% currency conversion fee.

    One point to keep in mind - never accept DCC or dynamic currency conversion. This is the credit card option you may be given to pay a bill in your home country currency. Always pay in the local currency, euros in this case, never pay in dollars if you are outside of the USA. There are two reasons:

    1. the exchange rate offered is typically not the current mid market rate and is usually far less advantageous for you.
    2. Visa and Mastercard changed their user agreements some years ago and even if your transaction is in dollars, you will pay any normal currency conversion or foreign transaction fees if the transaction is completed outside of USA.

    Granted, many will find that these tips save them little in overall costs if they rarely travel outside of the USA but for others, the savings can really add up.
     
  8. LisaH

    LisaH TUG Lifetime Member

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    There are banks that do not charge an ATM fee, such as First Republic Bank that I mentioned above. Many credit unions charge a lower fee. I also use credit cards for most of the transactions, only withdraw cash for incidental expenses.
     
  9. Here There

    Here There TUG Member

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    Even if the 3% exchange rate is high, 3% on 100euros is only 3euros -- less than the cost of a cup of coffee. That was why I recommended that most items could be charged via plastic.
    Thanks for the tip. Now can a non-EU bank customer use EU bank ATMs to obtain euros for free or will they get slapped with a transaction fee?
    I completely agree! That was why I alerted the OP re the difference between the % rate and a fixed fee. [btw Bank of America was the bank that only charges 3% and does NOT charge a fixed fee.] And for anyone other than a frequent traveler outside of the USA is it worthwhile to alter an existing banking relationship just to save a few euros?
     
  10. Tamino

    Tamino Guest

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    There is no charge for anyone to use an EU bank ATM. However, not all ATMs are bank ATMs. Nonbank ATMs may have fees.

    ATMs only disperse bills. There may be no fees using a bank ATM but there probably will be currency conversions fees farther down stream and ultimately your home town bank may add fees.

    I understand that the All Points network is completely free to use, no fees of any kind, for those whose banks are associated. However, the only All Points ATMs in Europe, of which I am aware, are in the UK.

    I certainly understand that but I look at how a bank treats its customers and excessive foreign transaction fees are an indication that a bank may be more interested in fees than good customer service.
     
  11. RNCollins

    RNCollins TUG Member

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    Hi Exeh,

    Make sure your daughter contacts her bank and credit card company (for the cards she will be using in Europe), letting them know of the dates of her travel and the countries she will be using her card in. Otherwise they may think the charge is fraudulent and deny access.
     
  12. exyeh

    exyeh TUG Member

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    Thank you so much!! All the help is a great references! Thank you, Carol!
     

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