I was wondering if anyone, especially those who frequently travel to Europe, can recommend the cheapest way to exchange US dollars from to Euros. Is it cheaper to order Euros through a major financial institution like American Express or Citibank, or is there a better alternative? Is it better to buy euros in the States, or overseas? Thank you.
if you are looking for cash,normally the best prices are at fx brokerages rather than the banks. if you are traveling frequently, can you open a bank account in europe? noncash rates are a lot better than cash. just exchange your USD for EUR and have the funds wired to your Euro account, and withdraw when you are overseas.
Interbank market and fly first-class.
It depends on how much you are talking about. When i stayed in Europe i actually got the best exchange rates at the ATM’s. I am not sure if that is still the case…
When i stayed in Europe i actually got the best exchange rates at the ATM’s. - that’s about right. In addition, you don’t have to carry all that cash around.
Withdrawing from an ATM can be costly as your own bank often tries to make as much money out of you as possible. Mostly they charge a 1.5% handling fee and 2.75% exchange rate commission. On top of this you may have to pay the ATM owner. This of course could still be cheaper than using a bank to change cash. The cunning alternative is to open a bank account with a US bank that doesn’t charge you these fees. Then you get the best exchange rate everywhere in the world all the time. Sadly, I don’t know which US bank (in the UK it is Nationwide), but I have met US travellers who have found such a bank and therefore know it exists.
Used to be that ATMs were the best rates, but banks have woken up to the fact that most people will fork out an extra 1-5% to use an ATM and have learned to charge additional fees. Also currency exchange fees are on top of that, then there is bid-ask spreads. Think you can get around the ATM fee by getting money from a teller? I’ve seen banks charge a fee for using a teller. On the other hand, moneychangers and hotels are usually even worse. Credit cards charge foreign exchange fees, but these seem to be slightly less than the ATM fees, in my experience, not so much because they are smaller in magnitude, but because there are a smaller number of fees applied. I like the open a bank account idea if you are traveling often. You can wire an interbank transfer for probably about $20, and if the dollar continues to fall, you might be glad to have some cash out there.
When I visited Europe I got the best rates from the ATM’s also.
Hey guys, just wanted to revisit this topic from a while back – I am not a frequent traveler of Europe, and just need to get a few hundred dollars worth of euros. It seems that the consensus here is that most of you think it’s easiest to go to an FX exchange or use an ATM. Assuming I don’t have the time or interest to open up a European bank account, is there a certain type of ATM I ought to use there? Can I assume that most of the major American commercial banks will have branches in Europe? Also, are there any specific FX exchanges I should look for in particular? Finally, does it make sense to get euros here in the US, or is my best bet just to hit up an ATM or FX exchange once I get to Europe? Thanks again for your help on this
If you’re in Amsterdam, the chicks will take dollars. Just FYI. Note - I haven’t been in a few years - they may have stopped taking the US peso.
Thanks HSA, I appreciate the insights. Anyone else have thoughts on the cheapest way to exchange USD for Euros, assuming I am not traveling to Amsterdam? Thank you
i used an ATM at the airport and i got a couple hundred exchanged at the bank so i would have some extra (my bank had a limit on how much i could take out/per day). I was told by a local to be careful which ATM you use because they had some issues with those devices that were stealing your card number/info. where are you going? it looks like i’ll be heading to italia at the end of this month or early next year.
You can find Citi ATMs in most major european cities. If you’re traveling to France and have a BofA ATM card, you can use BNP Paribas ATMs there for free.
I recently traveled to Turkey, and saw Citibank ATM around the place. So, I am guessing that if I had a Citi account, I would have at least saved on ATM fees. I still would have paid FX fee to my bank.
abacus Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > I recently traveled to Turkey, and saw Citibank > ATM around the place. So, I am guessing that if I > had a Citi account, I would have at least saved on > ATM fees. I still would have paid FX fee to my > bank. Thanks abacus – if this is the case, do you think it would have cost you the same if you had purchased euros through your Citibank branch here in the US? Or do you know if there is an additional surcharge for something like that?
The best thing for you to do is take money out of the ATM once you get to where you are going. Whatever you do, DO NOT bring US dollars with you hoping to exchange at an FX window. They will rape you. I was just in Italy when the euro was around $1.40 and the FX windows were looking for $1.60. Stay away from them. Make sure you call your bank before you travel international as well, because they will likely freeze your account if you dont when you attempt to withdraw money. My bank charges by $3-$4 on top of $3 fee charged by the bank which owned the ATM to withdraw 250 euro. Thats your best bet and will save you some money.
I’m traveling around china and japan now. I tried a few different ways to see which works best to get my money in Yuan and Yen… Fidelity ATM card is best so far. Capital One Credit card is best credit card. American Express, Citibank and Cash/travelers cheques exchanged at banks are BAD. I agree with AIC about cash… you’ll get raped at the fx window. However, some hotels will take U.S. cash at a favorable exchange rate so it doesn’t hurt to hang on to a wad.
Thanks for all the feedback guys (and ladies) - it seems like the best bet is to just use one’s ATM card overseas. I understand that ATM charges you a processing fee (maybe like $3-4 or whatever the case may be), but in terms of the exchange rate, do they just give you the euros based on the “ask” rate or do they still assess an FX fee on that amount? Because if you get charged FX fees no matter where you go, isn’t it just better to stop by your local Citibank and purchase the euros in the States? Maybe someone can help clarify, because it seems like if they charge you the FX fee (which I gather is about 3-4% above the “ask” rate) then you might as well save yourself the trouble and pick up the euros in the States, so you can enjoy your vacation without having to poke around for an ATM in Europe. Let me know what you guys think. This is all very interesting to me as I know little to nothing about this stuff, so I really appreciate the thoughts and advice.
Hi Numi - most of my business in has been in Ukraine and Russia. It might be a bit of a stretch to say “Europe”, but they are further East than Maine. Then (4 years ago) it was best to use the ATM. I got hit with a pretty decent charge (1.5%), but it was better than the spreads in the official shops and safer than black market.