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Author: dleeklee

Joined: 3/31/2012
Posts: 6
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2012

July 09, 2012

My handbook for Great Rivers of Europe states that the ship will exchange U.S.Dollars for Euros up to $50. daily.   Do they charge for this service?

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 426
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

July 09, 2012

In my experience the only charge was an exchange rate that was very unfavorable to the tourist. Having an ATM (debit) card that you can use in the ATM located within two blocks of where the ship moors in every town you visit gives you a much superior value. Your bank will charge you the current "official" exchange rate, plus a small fee for using a "foreign" ATM. As an example, in 2006 I was getting Euro at the ATMs for about $1.25. On the ship an Euro cost me $1.44. I cannot tell you if that has changed. I took another cruise in 2010 but I did not even ask about exchanging money on the ship. I just hit the first available ATM. I hope someone else can reply with a more recent experience and that they will say that GCT is charging a little less for the convenience of on board exchange. I found what was in effect a 10% surcharge in 2006 a bit onerous.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

July 10, 2012

We've never exchanged money on the ship, nor do we usually exchange money in town.  since we're inveterate travelers, we watch the currency exchange values and purchase through our bank when the rates dip to really low rates.  Obviously, this means saving the currency for future use, which we do, as we generally take 2-4 trips a year, so we don't have to save it that long.  Having local money in our pockets when we land is a definite plus.  Right now the Euro is low, and we plan on purchasing some more.  if it drops lower, which is predicted, we may purchase ven more, as we will definately use them later this year, and since our supply is low, after we used them on a recent Grand Circle Spain trip.

If you can plan sufficiently in advance, we recommend that you do so.  Most banks can get you the currency within 2-3 days, so if you're not leaving relatively soon, you still have time to purchase now( assuming your bank has currency exchange-most commercial banks do ), and still have your money in time for your trip, avoiding the necessity for purchasing en route.  You'll also get a favorable rate of exchange, as the Euro appears to be declining.  Of course, our plan has the drawback that you will not be taking only the amount of foreign currency you will spend, hence leaving you with potentially a considerable amount when you return.  But that won't be a problem if you're planning future trips.

A better way to avoid the hassle is to use credit cards.  Capital One will not charge you a transaction fee for each transaction, as many other cards do, making your purchases essentially, a direct conversion, at the rate, at the time of purchase.  However, the credit card won't be good for purchasing, say, ice cream or a drink at a stand; you'll need some cash for that.  If you only needa few EUros in your pocket for that, and are not converting large amounts, then the rate of excahange becomes a negligible factor, in favor of convenience. 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 514
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

July 10, 2012

 Find a bank that does not charge any fees on ATMs withdrawals foreign or domestic and reimburses for fees charged by other banks or providers. We have been traveling once or twice a year for  15 - 20 years and have never paid a fee, and you get the best possible rates. Buying in the US before going may have no fees, but it costs you the buy-sell spread and subjects you to crrency fluctuations, which you may win or may lose.If you could predict the direction on long term exchange rates, you would be a very rich person. Over the years we have seen the Euro range from about $.80 to $1.40. Banks may have specific account types that give this fee free ATM service. Our bank is Eastern Bank of Massachusetts.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

July 10, 2012

 We disagree with nanaandpapa over their assertion that if you purchase in the US before you go, you will somehow lose on the buy-sell spread.  There is no such spread at a bank.  There may be a flat commission, but when you purchase, you purchase at the going rate, which you can esaily check.  When you sell, if you sell, you also sell at the going rate, whatever that is, plus any commission the bank charges for handling the transaction.  The so-called buy-sell spread is a common device that one sees overseas at local currency exchanges.  In reality, what it is is a commission expressed in a different way.  The exchange is simply adding their commission for handling the transaction by essentially lowering the price at which they will purchase a currency from you and raising the price at which they sell a currency to you, hence a spread.  If you purchase from a bank, there's no spread; they buy and sell at the same price and attach their commission to the sale afterwards.  Some banks may express the commission as a change in the price of each currency unit from the basic market price, and others may simply add it to the sale at the end.  Regardless, the effect is the same.  And you are going to pay that commission whether or not you purchase from a US bank or a local currency exchange place.  they have to make money on the transaction.  Now, if you want to purchase a currency contract from one of the exchange houses, which is in reality an option trade, then you'll get the going price without commission.  However, those contracts are usually very large( in excess of $10,000 ), and you still have the cost of the option contract.  Regardless, if you're going to use the Euros, then it should not matter to you what a commission may be for resale, because you won't be reselling any.

Buy your Euros the way its most convenient for you.  We've developed our plans and procedures over the years, as have nanaandpapa.  Our system works for us, because we can afford to buy and hold until we need them. If those are not your circumstances, and you're purchasing on essentially a one-shot deal, then do it the way that is most convenient for you.  In that case, the potential savings will be pennies, and not necessarily worht the inconvenience.

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 176
GCT Trips Taken: 13
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

July 10, 2012

On ourupcoming trip to Russia, the river ship does not exchange dollars for rubles. Our bank here in Florida doesnt either. We probably will do what we did in Egypt - wait until we get there!

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 10, 2012

You will have time in the airport terminal when you get to Russia to use an ATM.   Your PD will have met you by then and will help.  And there are ATMs all over the place.  I didn't have any trouble with them.  Some street vendors will accept dollars; in fact, some will prefer them but will take rubles.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

July 11, 2012

 Most exchange places at the airports and also in the hotels you will stay at, charge far larger commissions that you will pay if you exchange money elsewhere.  We don't know about the ship, because we never exchanged money on board, and didn't pay attention to the rate as compared to the going rate.  If you're exchanging only a few dollars, then you're talking about pennies.  don't worry about the pennnies; go for whatever is convenient.  If you're exchanging larger amounts, the difference in commission paid could be significant.   Under those circumstances, you may want to look into alternative methods of purchasing currency.  Everyone recommends ATM's because they convert at the current rate of exchange, however, every bank will levy a fee for the transaction every time, which may be greater than the commission at an exchange place.  However, using ATM's does offer a measure of convenience.  The only bank to our knowledge that will not levy a separate fee for each transaction for their credit card purchases is Capital One.  There may be others, and since we've never used an ATM overseas, we don't know if that feewaiver applies to their accounts as well.  If you have a Capital One account, you can check.  We do, however, suggest that you carry a Capital One Credit card, because they do NOT levey a fee for each foreign transaction, as other cards do.  However, as we said, other cards may give you a similar break; you'd have to check. 

Author: ed watts

Joined: 3/30/2010
Posts: 143
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

All seven continents, 113 countries and all states except Idaho.Plus some interesting places that are not countries such as The azores, Antarctica, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, etc.

Traveler Since: 2010

July 11, 2012

You do not usually use a CREDIT CARD for ATM withdrawals but instead a Bank Card from the bank you do business with...The only fee must banks then charge for an ATM withdrawal is usually nominal (usually in the $1 to $1.50 range per withdrawal with no fee for currency withdrawn as foreign currency)  My bank does not charge an ATM transaction fee; therefore, I get the foreign currency at the latest exchange rate..  If you are using a credit card to make withdrawals then I agree much larger fees are involved but if you are using a credit card to make ATM withdrawals, then I question why...

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

July 11, 2012

 watsed is correct, however, we thought most people knew the distinction between an ATM transaction using a bank card and a credit card transaction, and that assumption was inherent in our post.  We regret that our assumption may have been erroneous.  We still advise each individual to cehck with their bank to see if indeed a fee is levied for ATM transactions outside of their home bank.  We do know that most banks do levy such fees, however, many offer fee waivers depending on what other services one has with the bank.  It is still good to see if those fee waivers apply to foreign transactions as well.  if fees are levied for each transaction, they can far outstrip the commissions you will pay for purchasing your foreign currency BEFORE you go at your local bank, and even outstrip the commission you will pay at foreign currency exchange establishments over the long haul.

However, as we have asserted, and continue to assert, those commissions should be evaluated in compasiron to the convenience factor. 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 11, 2012

When you call your bank to tell them you will be out of the country (where and when), you can also enquire if they have relationships with banks in that country where you will not be assessed a fee.

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