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Going on Celebrity Apex in a couple of weeks and forgot about purchasing Euro and Croatian kuna. Last night I remember that I needed to do this, but found Travelex is shut down and many other agencies that deal with the purchase of foreign currency are also closed or no longer mailing currency to the home.

 

Has anyone from the US recently purchased foreign currency and how was it done?

 

Thanks for suggestions

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24 minutes ago, tropicalkerry2002 said:

Use ATMs while there. SO easy!

Foreign ATM? Sorta easy...


It needs to be the correct ATM (one of your home bank’s ATM card’s logos on the back needs to match one on the foreign bank’s ATM). Also, note that exchange bureaus like Travelex have machines in airports an other locations that look just like an ATM (but add a hefty exchange fee on top of the exchange rate. So avoid them!).

 

NEVER use a CC in an ATM (anywhere). Interest accrual on ATM withdrawals using a CC begins immediately.

 

In many countries, the ATM machine will give you a choice of using that bank’s exchange rate instead of the CC rate. In most cases, stick with your CC rate (which is usually the cheapest way to exchange money).

 

For initial cash (e.g., taxis upon arrival in a foreign port), find a bank at home with good exchange rates as well as ATM cards with no foreign transaction fees (and CC cards w/o those fees either). Our local bank has both!

 

Each adult person in your cabin should have their own card. ATMs will eat cards on occasion. So, it’s good to have a spare. Also try to use ATMs inside of banks instead of outside for obvious reasons.

 

“Funny money” left over at the end of your cruise? Consider using it for part of your added gratuities to crew. You avoid a second exchange rate bite selling it and crew will either use it on another similar itinerary or exchange it among themselves. 

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A few tips about using foreign ATMs.  Notify your bank (prior to leaving home) of your travel plans and intent to use your ATM/Debit card.  Keep in mind that there are daily limits which happens from your own bank (often $500) and foreign ATMs (sometimes less then $500).   My advice (based on decades of experience) is to only use bank owned ATMs.  If you are in an open area watch your own security (just like you should at home).  I should mention that ATMs are going to get you a much better overall rate of exchange then you would ever get from Travelex (one of the most expensive ways to exchange any currency).  

 

One other tip which we consider essential.  Siince DW and I do a lot of international travel and can be away for months we give a lot of thought to backups.  When it comes to ATMs the best backup is to have more then one ATM card....each drawn on a different account in a different bank.  If something happens to a card you then have another card and if you need more money then you can get through daily limits having multiple cards comes in handy.  We actually travel with 3 ATM cards (each from a different bank) and have completely relied on ATM cards (for cash) for about the last 25 years.  I should also mention that there are some banks and credit unions that do not charge any extra ATM fees....and they are a good thing.  Banks with fees are something I leave to others :).  

 

When you use most ATM cards you are going to get the wholesale rate of exchange (always changing) minus a 1% International Services Fee (buried in the exchange rate) plus any additional fees charged by your own bank and possibly the bank ATM.   

 

One other very important warning.  Everyone doing foreign travel would be well advised to go online and Google "Dynamic Currency Conversion" and read about the issue.  IMHO it is a complete con and akin to institutionalized theft of your funds.   Suffice it to say that if you are using an ATM or a credit card and are given the option to have the transaction done in US Dollars......decline that option.  Let your transactions be done in the local currency.  We have noticed that some banks now make it tricky (on ATM screens) to find the button to decline Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC).  Some also mislead you into thinking you have no option!    DCC can cost you 5-10% on every transaction and should be illegal.

 

Hank

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If you feel you absolutely must have some foreign currency, check with your bank. Bank of America can provide foreign currency, for instance.

 

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22 minutes ago, whogo said:

If you feel you absolutely must have some foreign currency, check with your bank. Bank of America can provide foreign currency, for instance.

 

So can AAA if you're a member.

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Posted (edited)

It really depends on how much FX you need.  The tellers at our bank go across the street to the FX store.  They get better rates and better denomination selection.

 

We use ATM's.  We go for two months at a time.  Often take $1500 and exhange at an in country FX store.  For Thailand, the delta is 5-7 percent.

 

We are always on the lookout for DCC.  Last time we were in Florida a number of stores were notorious for this, as were some hotels (our currency is cad).  The question is often so innocuous...'do you want to be billed in your home currency?    Some do not even ask-they just do it.   For them it adds as much as 7 or 8 points on their margin.

 

Princess Cruises used to be brutal for this even when we recorded our desired currency.  It was as though the purser's desk was a profit centre for them.  We always had to confirm currency with the purser's office on the last day otherwise it would be DCC.   Our credit card does not charge the typical 2.5-3 percent service imbedded service fee on FX transactions.

 

 When we do international cc charges we always make of point of requesting to be billed in their local currency.  We never mind paying, we do mind being ripped off.

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5 hours ago, whogo said:

If you feel you absolutely must have some foreign currency, check with your bank. Bank of America can provide foreign currency, for instance.

 

This....I do it all the time...order online and pick up at my local branch. Quick and easy.

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On 7/28/2021 at 8:48 AM, whogo said:

If you feel you absolutely must have some foreign currency, check with your bank. Bank of America can provide foreign currency, for instance.

 

 

X2.  Call the bank.  Two weeks should be enough time for them to get the desired currency to your local branch.  

 

 

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One nice thing about my bank (local podunk savings bank) is that the foreign currency provided come in a mix of bill sizes, including small bills. Very convenient.
 

Getting money from my bank is not the absolute cheapest way to get foreign currency. But I’ve learned over the years to not worry so much. In my early days of travel I wasted a lot of time and worry chasing the cheapest way to get cash. Now, as long as I avoid the true ripoffs, I’m ok paying a bit more for convenience.  

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And just a friendly reminder....if you end up with foreign coins, you might as well save them as souvenir or donate them.  (A few international flights will ask passengers if they want to donate leftover foreign coins.)  We framed some and have given some to our grandkids.

 

Side story:  We were in Hong Kong and decided to visit Macau...an island only a ferry ride away famous for gambling...much like Las Vegas.  Gambled a little and ate at a restaurant.  Got some change ( a couple of bills and coins) back from the restaurant.   We get back to Hong Kong and mixed the money from Macau to pay for a meal.  We didn't understand the waitress at first........then someone told us "We don't accept "Macau money" in Hong Kong".  Lesson learned once again.

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1 hour ago, bonsai3s said:

And just a friendly reminder....if you end up with foreign coins, you might as well save them as souvenir or donate them.  (A few international flights will ask passengers if they want to donate leftover foreign coins.)  We framed some and have given some to our grandkids.

 

Side story:  We were in Hong Kong and decided to visit Macau...an island only a ferry ride away famous for gambling...much like Las Vegas.  Gambled a little and ate at a restaurant.  Got some change ( a couple of bills and coins) back from the restaurant.   We get back to Hong Kong and mixed the money from Macau to pay for a meal.  We didn't understand the waitress at first........then someone told us "We don't accept "Macau money" in Hong Kong".  Lesson learned once again.

Another Side Story.  All British Pounds Sterling are not the same.  We once got stuck with Pounds issued in Gibraltar and were surprised to find that they were no accepted in England.   And it can also happen with Scottish Pounds (we have had them rejected at an English pub.  

 

Hank

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On 7/28/2021 at 8:20 AM, Lane412000 said:

Going on Celebrity Apex in a couple of weeks and forgot about purchasing Euro and Croatian kuna. Last night I remember that I needed to do this, but found Travelex is shut down and many other agencies that deal with the purchase of foreign currency are also closed or no longer mailing currency to the home.

 

Has anyone from the US recently purchased foreign currency and how was it done?

 

Thanks for suggestions

I agree check your local bank we got a a decent rate for both , we also bought some kuna but when we got to Dubrovnik we found that they would take euros or dollars , sounds like a great cruise we just got off edge . 

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14 minutes ago, shipgeeks said:

Guest Services, onboard, can do this.  Not the best rate, I'm sure, but it saves a trip all over town.

They may or may not...and not all the country currency you may be looking for is available.

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12 hours ago, zekekelso said:

One nice thing about my bank (local podunk savings bank) is that the foreign currency provided come in a mix of bill sizes, including small bills. Very convenient.
 

Getting money from my bank is not the absolute cheapest way to get foreign currency. But I’ve learned over the years to not worry so much. In my early days of travel I wasted a lot of time and worry chasing the cheapest way to get cash. Now, as long as I avoid the true ripoffs, I’m ok paying a bit more for convenience.  

 

Yep, agree that it is not worth worrying about, at least for me.   We are not dealing with incredibly large amounts of money.  A few points either way isn't going to mean very much, particularly when convenience is factored in.   

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We bought some when we got to the airport in Athens. The exchange rate probably wasn't the best, but it was very convenient for us. That being said, most places accept credit cards, so the need for cash is very minimal. We used ours for paying tour guides/drivers in Athens, but all of the shops and restaurants took cards.

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Two days ago we arrived  at ATH where I quickly found a bank ATM and withdrew 300 Euros.  Paid about $1.20 per Euro.  As we previously posted we get all of our currency from local ATMs.

 

Hank

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On 7/31/2021 at 9:42 PM, DairyFreeGolden said:

We bought some when we got to the airport in Athens. The exchange rate probably wasn't the best, but it was very convenient for us. That being said, most places accept credit cards, so the need for cash is very minimal. We used ours for paying tour guides/drivers in Athens, but all of the shops and restaurants took cards.

Problem with cards overseas is the bad exchange rate the card company applies.  No big deal for occasional small expenses, but it may make sense to figure out in advance how much you will be spending so you can decide whether to bother.

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29 minutes ago, navybankerteacher said:

Problem with cards overseas is the bad exchange rate the card company applies.  No big deal for occasional small expenses, but it may make sense to figure out in advance how much you will be spending so you can decide whether to bother.

My cards beat any other method for financial dealings overseas. My bank marks up ATM withdrawals by 1% (no withdrawal fees), my Capital One credit card marks up purchases by 0%. There are ATM cards with 0% markups, I don't have one. Cards are the best thing to happen in foreign travel since low cost air travel.

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22 minutes ago, whogo said:

My cards beat any other method for financial dealings overseas. My bank marks up ATM withdrawals by 1% (no withdrawal fees), my Capital One credit card marks up purchases by 0%. There are ATM cards with 0% markups, I don't have one. Cards are the best thing to happen in foreign travel since low cost air travel.

It isn’t really a question of “mark ups” - it is the exchange rate the credit card company applies in converting a Euro (or other currency) purchase to the dollar amount they will have on your bill which can be costly.

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Don’t forget that you may not get the opportunity to visit an ATM especially if you have to do ship's excursions. The majority of retail outlets in Europe do accept credit cards. 

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4 hours ago, navybankerteacher said:

It isn’t really a question of “mark ups” - it is the exchange rate the credit card company applies in converting a Euro (or other currency) purchase to the dollar amount they will have on your bill which can be costly.

Not costly at all. The exchange rate that credit cards use is the interbank exchange rate. "It is a wholesale market through which most currency transactions are channeled." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interbank_foreign_exchange_market

 

When I said 0% markup, I meant 0% markup. There is no cheaper way for tourists to make transactions in foreign currency.

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7 hours ago, Izzywiz said:

Don’t forget that you may not get the opportunity to visit an ATM especially if you have to do ship's excursions. The majority of retail outlets in Europe do accept credit cards. 

This is very true. Also the fact that to rely on finding an ATM and having no issues with them or your card is a risk we prefer not to take.

 

We did a private tour in Akureyri Iceland and after the tour a couple needed to find an ATM to pay for their portion of the tour. The rest of us had local currency...as we walked around town we saw them and the guide going from ATM to ATM and finally they had to go into a bank. So problems can happen.

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