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Converting US Dollars for Euros

silentg

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Hi Tuggers!
I need some advice on converting US dollars into Euros for trip to Paris. Is it better to bring some Euros with me or should I wait and obtain them in France? If I do purchase them where would I get the best value and what about conversion fees? Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance. TerryC
 

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Best rate in Paris is in "le puce" antique market. Metro will take you there. (check which days they are open)
 

Hoc

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I always save a few from my last trip, so that I have some Euros when I get there (to get cabs/buses from the Airport to my resort in case there are problems with ATM Machines, etc. when I get there). But other than that, I have found that using an ATM card from a no-conversion fee bank and the ATMs there (which, obviously, spit out Euros) yields the best conversion rate.

I do that in every foreign country. A small amount of the local currency in my pocket, combined with no-conversion fee credit card use (like Capital One) and immediate withdrawal of about 150-200 Euros from an ATM, and subsequent withdrawals as I need them, are the way I usually go in every foreign country.

For the initial packet of bills, if you are a member of a credit union and give them a heads' up in advance, you can usually get them at a decent exchange rate. Otherwise, for the initial packet, Wells Fargo often has good rates and can get any currency with a week's advance notice.

I would not travel there with my entire budget in cash in my pocket, regardless of the exchange rate. The risk of pickpockets, loss and robberies is just too high.
 

IreneLF

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ATM is the way to go. They are everywhere, more so than here and frequently used by locals.

Rather than use by local bank card, I got one from Fidelity (set up a new acct, a "smart account" they called it and I funded it with a limited amount of $ for the trip ) which waived any bank fees on either end, theirs or foreign and also paid (small %) interest. Just pulled out a small sum every other day or so, worked very well.

When I checked the rates I was happy to see that they gave me a better rate than I would have gotten at a bank - this was in UK, Paris and also Canada. Whatever interest earned more than offset whatever fee had to be charged (1% charged by Visa)
Major banks seem to charge fees for withdrawals that can be from 1-3% so ask your banks to determne what is best for you. People also seem to do well with credit union cards if that is available to you.
 

vacationhopeful

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Which ever card you decide to take (and I like the idea of a new account funded for the trip), you need to do ONE thing.

TELL the bank that you are going to Europe, overseas and which countries and when.

I went to Eastern Europe the first year for 2 weeks and had NO problems. The very next year, again at Thanksgiving and for 2 weeks, I went to the same ATM got $100 worth of forints. Second visit, no money.:confused:

I was dumbfounded. I ended up borrowing from my friends/changing $$$ til I got to Prague and my sister's international phone to call the bank. "Oh, you should have told us you were going to XXXX". The bank turned the card back on - they should have told me.

Plus, as a side note, while your local US bank can get you local currency, it may take several days for the currency to arrive to that branch. I was in a grocery store bank branch when a mom and her daughter wanted some Czech money for her teen daughter's trip the next day. The teller was sorry, mom was franatic, and daughter was confused. I asked her how much she wanted and pulled out the Czech bills from my purse ... I was just the next customer in line. Teller looked up the current exchange rate and I traded in the foreign bills to the mom.:D
 
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silentg

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Thanks for all the helpful suggestions...this will be our first time using Euros and also first trip to Paris. So exciting!!!
 

hibbeln

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ATM's are plentiful everywhere in Paris......except the airport. I have heard rumors there are only 2 in the airport (have never seen either one) and they are both usually all out of money. Regardless, don't count on getting Euros at the ATM in the Paris airport. The advise to bring along Euros from home is excellent (we found it takes up to 2 weeks to order Euros from a bank here in Michigan, often less time, but give yourself that much time).

Another note about ATM's. Sometimes we hit a daily limit of what can be withdrawn. It seems to vary from trip to trip, country to country. Maybe it's our credit union, maybe it's the ATMs??? So the first day, try taking out a good bit of money and see if you hit a "ceiling". This can be important if you know on a certain day of your trip you have to pay for something in cash (a private tour, a b&b that doesn't accept credit cards...) so we would take out up to our max for the days in advance and hold that money aside until the day we needed it. I doubt you will have this problem in Paris where credit cards are widely accepted, but outside of Paris it can be true (we found this in rural areas of Normandy).
 

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Good to carry cash with you. Suppose thew ATM swallows your card(happened to me)
 

x3 skier

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Another note about ATM's. Sometimes we hit a daily limit of what can be withdrawn. It seems to vary from trip to trip, country to country. Maybe it's our credit union, maybe it's the ATMs???
I found that out the hard way. I needed to get 500 euros cash to get my wife discharged from the hospital in Bonn Germany after a bout of Pneumonia. The hospital would not accept a credit card and wanted the deposit even though I had insurance that covered the entire bill.

I tried for 500 and the ATM rejected me. Tired several others and they also "No Sale" even though I had much more than that in the bank.:confused:

I trudged back to the Hospital to tell my wife she was doomed. She, being an ex banker type, told me rather pointedly, go get 250 from each machine. I returned to the ATM, got 250, went down the street to another machine from the SAME bank and got 250 more, bailed her out and we were on our way.:D

So if the machine will not give you what you need, try different ones for a lower amount until you get what you need. It might work. Then again, it might eat your card although that is unlikely since it probably just will reject your request.

Cheers
 

Bill4728

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We also visited Paris & London. Had no problems in London.

But in Paris we had 2 problems. One the ATM wanted a 6 digit password and all of our's were only 4 digits. Second our ATM was linked to our saving acct and they would only take the money out of a checking account. Ending up talking a cash advance from our credit card.
 

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If you have a credit card without a PIN, which is common in the US, there are many places that you will not be able to use it in western Europe, although a PIN-less credit card does work most places in eastern Europe. You can set up a PIN by getting in touch with your bank.

Most rates for foreign currency at most sources in the US are terrible. Except on my earliest trips, I never bought foreign currency before I left. You can almost always get transportation from the airport to the center on plastic. Getting away from the airport usually gets you better exchange rates. For small amounts, you can also buy something at the airport, like a newspaper or a coffee at McDonalds, pay in $ and get change in local currency. I did that a few weeks ago in Prague to get the crowns for my bus fare into the the city. While the rate may not be the best, at least you escape the ripoff minimum commission that airport exchange booths will pop you with.

As far as ATM's are concerned, you also need to be aware that an increasing number of them are charging on the receiving end and often don't tell you. Some also give the bank's own exchange rate rather than interbank rate, which may not be so good. ATM's attached to banks in the UK often have no local charge, but in other countries such as Greece, ALL ATM's have a local charge. Some guidebooks will help you identify which banks to look for with lower or no local ATM charge. A few US banks also reimburse those fees. Freestanding ATM's at highway rest stops, railway stations, and sometimes airports often have the highest local usage fees for ATM's.

It is becoming more and more common for banks in the US to whack you for 3% fees on either ATM or credit card transactions overseas. Cap One is the best way around that, and is now the only card I use overseas. Additionally most US banks, but not Cap One, add an additional transaction fee for ATM use out of network, which is $0.75 for my credit union ATM card and $2.00 for my Wachovia card.
 

MaryH

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I typically use ATM to get cash in Europe and UK. I know in Frankfurt airport, some were restricted to 200Euros and I had to look for a bit to find one for 400 euro the last time.

ATM works very well but find out the fees your bank and the ATM charge you. My canadian bank wacks me for $5 each Interac withdraw so I try to hit the maximum I can take out or 50% more than what I think I would need for the short trip to minimize the pain.
 
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