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Currency conversion: $$$ to Euros


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Ladies and Gents--wife and I are booked on the Grand Med Cruise, departing FLL in March, 2017. This will be our first cruise outside the Caribbean, where U.S. dollars are accepted universally.

 

The question arises: assuming that U.S. dollars are widely--though probably NOT universally accepted--how does one go about changing dollars for Euros? I was in the Air Force, stationed in Germany in early 1980s, and I remember the routine of exchanging dollars for Deutsch Marks. A very uncomplicated process whereby went to the local clue--either officers' or NCO--asked the cashier for X number of Marks, then wrote a check, or handed over a fistful of dollars, amount depending on number of DM desired and the daily exchange rate.

 

I Google'd currency conversion, and didn't find anything that seemed to be a reasonable way to do business. One source suggested buying an initial stash of Euros before embarking to cover taxi fares, meals en route, etc, then using debit card to buy Euros at ATMs in rail stations or airports. Or make purchases with your debit card and getting change back in Euros.

 

Does this actually make more sense than it appears at first blush? Truth to tell, I really don't like to use my debit card at unfamiliar locations. Is there something I'm missing??? Thanks for your responses.

 

Silverback969

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Use your debit card to withdraw Euros from bank ATMs. That's your best exchange rate. Do NOT use your debit card to make purchases, use a credit card instead. Forget using dollars; you will generally need Euros or whatever local currency unless you're shopping in a souk, and really want to get hosed on the exchange rate. (When I was stationed with the US Army in Germany in the early 70's, I had a checking account that let me write checks either in dollars or DM; my rent was in Marks, and at the time the dollar was in serious decline against the Mark, so it was always a nail-biter to see how many more dollars were deducted from my balance each month when those checks cleared. I think it started out around 4 to the dollar, and 3 years later it was 3 to 1. Great fun.)

Edited by Langoustine
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This...^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

 

Most convenient and lowest conversion costs are found by using an ATM in the country of the currency that you want.

 

In Europe that means that there are several countries that use the Euro.

 

We get ours at a bank ATM in the airport at our first stop.

 

Be sure to tell your bank of your travel plans so that they don't suspend your card for what they think is fraudulent use.

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I have been using a debit card to get local currency at banks around the world for over 25 years. I have never had a problem. You get the best exchange rate even when you have to pay a fee to use the machine. Especially in Europe, ATMs are usually easy to find sometimes even in the cruise terminal.

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Europe will pretty much require the use of euros throughout your cruise. I also pre-buy some euros from my local bank. I do this and then change US$$ for euros at the front desk as needed. The exchange fee is well worth the convenience of not having to find an ATM and worry about card fraud/scamming while in port, at least for me. Check with your bank as mine (BOA) has agreements with several European banks to not charge an exchange fee. As my cyper-spook nephew says, a debit card is a direct line to your cash while a credit card at least allows for discussion about charges so maybe use your credit card for euro withdrawals from an ATM to be super safe. Recommend you bring some euros with you as your 1st few ports are fantastic islands so then you can just get off and go.

 

Have a wonderful time!

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Europe will pretty much require the use of euros throughout your cruise. I also pre-buy some euros from my local bank. I do this and then change US$$ for euros at the front desk as needed. The exchange fee is well worth the convenience of not having to find an ATM and worry about card fraud/scamming while in port, at least for me. Check with your bank as mine (BOA) has agreements with several European banks to not charge an exchange fee. As my cyper-spook nephew says, a debit card is a direct line to your cash while a credit card at least allows for discussion about charges so maybe use your credit card for euro withdrawals from an ATM to be super safe. Recommend you bring some euros with you as your 1st few ports are fantastic islands so then you can just get off and go.

 

Have a wonderful time!

 

Do NOT do what is suggested above (in bold).

 

Anytime you use your credit card to withdraw cash, it is regarded as a "loan" and the interest (very high) is charged starting immediately upon withdrawal, making this probably THE most expensive way to get euros.

 

I use ATMs almost exclusively to get local currency. I set up a separate account for my travel with limited funds. If the card were compromised, there's only so much that could be obtained, and upon verification of fraud, the funds will be restored.

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ATMs are good but I'd never leave home without some local currency. You should be able to order some from your bank to get you started.

 

Same here. For our Med cruises, which ranged from 16 to 24 days with pre and post cruise days, we always got at least a starter amount from our local bank. We don't exchange a huge amount and the convenience of having at least a starting amount far outweighs the exchange rate drawback. We have hit up ATMs a couple of times or exchanged dollars for local currency, usually Euros in the Med.

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ATMs are good but I'd never leave home without some local currency. You should be able to order some from your bank to get you started.

 

Same here. For our Med cruises, which ranged from 16 to 24 days with pre and post cruise days, we always got at least a starter amount from our local bank. We don't exchange a huge amount and the convenience of having at least a starting amount far outweighs the exchange rate drawback. We have hit up ATMs a couple of times or exchanged dollars for local currency, usually Euros in the Med.

 

Ditto. We always have a supply with us and use ATM's (usually one at a bank or at the cruise terminal) to get more euros when needed.

 

I went once without any when we were in South America. Wasted forever finding a banking machine that accepted my card (the ABM I knew that was in the hotel didn't work). Lesson learned. We always go with the country's currency on hand ;)

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I understand your concern about using your debit card in foreign ATMs. I was also a little skittish. However, I have done it numerous times and never had an issue. I agree with the others who say get some Euros from your bank to get going (taxi or train when leaving airport) then find a bank ATM. Best way to go, IMO.

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I understand your concern about using your debit card in foreign ATMs. I was also a little skittish. However, I have done it numerous times and never had an issue. I agree with the others who say get some Euros from your bank to get going (taxi or train when leaving airport) then find a bank ATM. Best way to go, IMO.

 

We did ask our bank if they had any arrangements or partnerships with any European banks and as I recall they gave us a list of at least banks in Spain, Italy, and Greece where we wouldn't get hit with too horrendous service charges and exchange rates. I don't remember if we were always able to find one on the list but we really didn't hit up ATMs all that often, maybe once and the most maybe twice a cruise and short land stay. With the majority of our time actually cruising we didn't really use that many Euros other than an occasional lunch, coffee break, etc.

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ATMs are good but I'd never leave home without some local currency. You should be able to order some from your bank to get you started.

 

Ditto. I'm a nervous wreck unless I have SOME local currency in hand when I hit the ground. Did a land-based, escorted tour to Morocco with Gate1Travel last November, and they have a closed currency (can't buy/sell it outside of the country). Until I had some Dirham in hand, I was worried. We had several people on our trip who tried to use debit cards to get cash out and were denied and/or had their card eaten. I've just never wanted to chance it. Once in country, the hotels would usually exchange for us, and the rates weren't that different from the bank rate.

 

Anyway, I might be old school, but I usually get some local currency from my bank before we go. I don't want to spend my time looking for a working ATM upon arrival, and want to be able to purchase a bottle of water or cup of coffee....or take a taxi....as soon as we're there. Also, someone mentioned this and I'll repeat it, be sure to notify your bank and credit card issuer(s) that you'll be out of the country. And see if you have a credit card that doesn't hit you with foreign transaction fees and use that for your larger purchases. Finally, take a couple of different credit cards in case one gets suspended.

 

Good luck, hope you have a wonderful trip!

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I agree with the ATM.

 

In a pinch the ship's front office you should be able to get Euro or local currency in none Euro area. BUT the exchange rate will be TERRIBLE!!

:eek:

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Some US banks and credit unions sell foreign currency. Expect to pay a markup of 5% or more. Any delivery or other fees make your effective markup much higher.

 

US credit cards markup foreign purchases by anywhere from nothing to 3%. Check with your credit card issuer for details.

 

Withdrawing money from an overseas ATM costs you 0% to 5% plus a withdrawal fee of $0 to $5. Check with your bank for details.

 

Travelex in US airports marked up currency a minimum of 13% the last time I checked. Their $9.99 fee makes small purchases particularly expensive.

 

Overseas exchange bureaus might sell currency at whatever they can get. I have been quoted markups over 22%. Airport exchange bureaus get a particularly bad rap. I know of an exchange bureau in London which charges less than 2%, but good luck finding a place like that.

 

Your cruise ship may offer foreign currency.

 

You can figure the markup on any currency quotes you receive by comparing your cost to the interbank rate as shown on www.oanda.com or similar websites.

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For Europe we always estimate what we might want to spend in cash and get Euros from AAA before we go. We don't live in a big city with banks or exchanges for foreign currency :) If we underestimate how much we need in Euros we can use the European ATM. For transportation like trains or for dinner and hotels we use a credit card.

 

When coming home we change it back to USD at the airport (also because there's no place to exchange at home).

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I suggest that you get around 100 Euros from a bank or AAA (they call their product Tip Paks) for miscellaneous small purchases.

 

We've done a Baltic cruise and two Med cruises and have never had a problem using $US for most small purchases ... even a kiosk at Catherine's Palace in Pushkin/St Petersburg took them! Yes, the exchange rate was probably bad, but to me the convenience was worth spending a few extra pennies more. Whenever possible we used the HAL-Barclay Visa credit card which has no foreign transaction fees.

 

The one notable exception to using $US is local buses and ferries. (Most taxis today take credit cards.) To get local currency for Stockholm ferries we purchased a souvenir in the Vasa museum with a $20 bill and got krona in change.

.

Edited by jtl513
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From the OP:

"assuming that U.S. dollars are widely--though probably NOT universally accepted"

 

A rather narrow-minded and "America First" assumption ;)

 

I would never expect a place of business in the EU to accept a US dollar. This is not the Caribbean; the dollar is more of a nuisance than a welcome currency.

 

I always have a stash of 100EU at home; for my first trip, I did get 100EU for "curb cash" from my Credit Union. That is enough to get me through the airport, grab a cab, grab a bite, before getting to the local Bancomat (you can't swing a dead cat in cities in Europe without hitting a Bancomat) to get 200EU. I always use the Bancomat that is inside a financial institution first, then one which is built into the wall of a financial institution. I never use the ATM at the airport (many of them nowadays are actually Travelex machines disguised as ATMs and extort a high exchange fee) - why wait in line with the hundreds of others who just landed. I use my ATM card from my CU for all withdrawals, NEVER a credit card. I can shift money between my checking and money market account online with my CU via it's app so I don't have to worry about having too much money in my checking account in case something goes sideways. I have worked this way since 2000 in Europe and, anecdotally, have never had an issue. Most of my purchases are done with a credit card, when possible, so that keeps down the amount of cash I have to have available. All my CCs are no-fee, no forex fee, so I don't worry about the exchange.

When I'm ready to leave back to the US, I spend down my cash until I have 100EU left for my return. Any coins I will deposit in the charity bins at the airport (especially for any refugee funds).

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Batten down the pockets.

 

o.k. if you need say just 100 euros to get by there is nothing wrong with paying a little extra and get it from the front desk.

 

But to be very safe from fraud.

 

1. I use ATM to get local currency and pay CASH to vendors or restaurants who are small or not well known. That way it is less likely they can make a copy of my card and commit fraud. Note that this is recommended by Rick Steves.

 

2. Asked for or removed Radio Frequency from any debit or credit card. This way someone cannot scan the cards to make a copy. I even removed Costco RF by drilling a hole in their card.

 

3. Placed a purchase limit of $1 on my debit cards. In essence my debit cards cannot be used for purchases. I never use them for purchases anyway.

 

4. Monitor my credit and debit accounts online to make sure all charges are legitimate.

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2. Asked for or removed Radio Frequency from any debit or credit card. This way someone cannot scan the cards to make a copy. anyway.

 

I have not seen an rfid enabled card in the US for at least 10 years. Are there any 'pay wave' cards still out there?

 

The "chipped" atm and credit cards that are now in general circulation are not rfid enabled and cannot be cloned with an electronic non-contact cloning device.

 

US passports do have rfid enabled, but the covers have an rf screen included so that special wallets or holders are not really necessary.

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[beginQUOTE=thinfool;52151074]I have not seen an rfid enabled card in the US for at least 10 years. Are there any 'pay wave' cards still out there?

The "chipped" atm and credit cards that are now in general circulation are not rfid enabled and cannot be cloned with an electronic non-contact cloning device.

US passports do have rfid enabled, but the covers have an rf screen included so that special wallets or holders are not really necessary.[/endQUOTE]

===

 

I have a brand new CITI Costo credit card that shows ))) which is the RFID. Drilled a hole in the card so cannot RF any more. You can test RF if you go to a store like KMart and tap the card. Only chip with pin is safe.

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I agree with the people who say get some euros before you go, maybe €100. The last time I did this, I found that my bank offered a better deal than AAA. YMMV. Use ATMs in Europe to replenish your supply. I've never had trouble using bank ATMs, with the usual precautions you would take at home. Check before you go. Some debit cards don't charge an ATM fee or conversion fee, so if you have one, use that. Likewise, some credit cards don't charge a foreign transaction fee and are preferable.

 

DH and I often carry cards for different accounts, so if one is stolen, lost, or temporarily "broken" we can use another. Only take what you need ashore, and leave the rest in your room safe.

 

If you are concerned about rfid, then just use some protective sleeves.

 

Finally, if you have leftover euros, you can use them to pay down your onboard account (at ship's exchange rate), as long as they aren't coins. Coins become souvenirs or donations at the airport.

 

Have a wonderful cruise!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Do NOT do what is suggested above (in bold).

 

Anytime you use your credit card to withdraw cash, it is regarded as a "loan" and the interest (very high) is charged starting immediately upon withdrawal, making this probably THE most expensive way to get euros.

 

I use ATMs almost exclusively to get local currency. I set up a separate account for my travel with limited funds. If the card were compromised, there's only so much that could be obtained, and upon verification of fraud, the funds will be restored.

 

Sorry I mentioned this but it is not true for my card.

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[beginQUOTE=thinfool;52151074]I have not seen an rfid enabled card in the US for at least 10 years. Are there any 'pay wave' cards still out there?

The "chipped" atm and credit cards that are now in general circulation are not rfid enabled and cannot be cloned with an electronic non-contact cloning device.

US passports do have rfid enabled, but the covers have an rf screen included so that special wallets or holders are not really necessary.[/endQUOTE]

===

 

I have a brand new CITI Costo credit card that shows ))) which is the RFID. Drilled a hole in the card so cannot RF any more. You can test RF if you go to a store like KMart and tap the card. Only chip with pin is safe.

 

Interesting. All my cards have this but they are also chip and pin. The are kept in an RFID protected case when not in use (Magellans). Love it as the cards are organized and like to think that they are safe. (No issues so far). Our passports are the same with RFID and I am NOT about to drill a hole in them. They are also kept in an RFID holder when we travel.

 

I haven't had any issues so far but we are very careful and only use our credit cards in crucial places - hotels, Total Wine (;)) and major places. Otherwise, we use cash when we travel.

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We will be flying to Venice for a cruise, connecting in LGW, London Gatwick. I would rather get my supply of Euros while I have a 4 hour layover in Gatwick. Does anyone know if you can get Euros at the ATM's in the UK ? I would think that with the number of people commuting from the UK to the Continent, that both currencies would be available in the ATM's, especially in airports and train stations. Our bank can get us Euros, but the sell commission plus service fee gets ridiculous for a small amount.

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