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Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 445
Trips Taken: 15
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

August 05, 2012

With the proper choice of a bank and account type, there is no reason for a transaction fee on ATM transactions. Our bank charges no fee and reimburses third party fees. We have traveled fairly heavily for the past 15 or so years and have never paid an unreimbursed ATM fee. Over the years we have seen the Euro range from $0.80 to about $1.35. Absolutely do not buy from such companies as Travelex, particularly in airports, as their rates/service charges are absolute robbery.

Author: travelann

Joined: 3/12/2010
Posts: 40
Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2010

August 05, 2012

If I may ask , which bank do you use and what type of account ? My bank ( Wells Fargo ) charges a huge fee, so I always carry cash.

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 445
Trips Taken: 15
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

August 05, 2012

 We use Eastern Bank, which only does business in the Northeast, maybe only in Massachusetts. There are probably minimum balance requirements as well as automatic deposit requirements on the account.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2007

August 05, 2012

 We agree with centaur, as we have posted many times previously our suggestions to purchase low for future use.  Additionally, having a few Euros, or other currency in your pocket when alighting from your flight goes quite far in getting a taxi to your hotel or wherever you're going, or getting a snack when you alight from a flight, as opposed to first looking for an ATM to exchange your money, or exchanging some at the airport, where the commissions are not as favorable as you would like.  

Since we travel to countries that use the Euro somewhat frequently, we generally keep a supply at home, buying low for future use, which essentially is what centaur recommends because the Euro is now relatively low.  However, we believe, as do a number of what we would consider informed sources, in the WSJ and on Bloomberg seem to think the Euro will be around $1.15 by year's end, so we part company with centaur on rushing to buy now.  Although, if you do have a trip upcoming in the immediate future, you can't go wrong with his advice to lay in some at the current rate, which is considerably lower than what it had been until recently. 

We eschew using ATM's while on trips, even though we have both an ATM and credit card which levy no transaction or third-party fees on us, because at an ATM you pay the going rate, whatever that is.  And we have found that on virtually every trip we've been on, the going rate has always been higher than what we paid for our Euros in advance, although now that might be advantageous, in a declining Euro enviromnent.  Of course, the ATM offers convenience, but we have never though of it being a convenience if we were running low on money and had to stop whatever we were doing to find an ATM.  And you do get to pay for that convenience, if the going rate is higher than what you could have paid if you purchased in advance.  But to each his own.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2007

August 06, 2012

 Update-as of this post, the Euro is at $1.2384 and going down.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 345
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

August 06, 2012

How much are you willing to pay for convenience? My bank charges a small fee for use of a "foreign" ATM, but to me it is worth it. I much prefer paying that fee to the concern, both physical and emotional, of carrying a big bundle of cash. But, of course, I use my Visa card almost exclusively, so I don't need much cash on hand.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2007

August 06, 2012

 we agree that it's a question of convenience, and how much one is willing to pay for that convenience.  After all, a large number of people purchase the Grand Circle Trip Mate insurance because it's "convenient" and precludes having to ship for other insurance which can usually be purchased for 10% or more less.  but respecting the use of ATM, is it really convenient if you can't find an ATM when you need it?  After all, they are somewhat available, but may not necessarily be available on 'every street corner."

 

P.S.  The Euro is now $1.2382 and going down.

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

August 06, 2012

I agree with CaptainLarry. I carry some cash, my debit card to get more cash if necessary from ATM machines (and have had no trouble finding them on trips---your PD especially can advise you where to find them), and always a Mastercard to charge  items or gifts that I buy.

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

August 06, 2012

And actually, Centaur, with all respect, you did mention fees in your original post, so Nanaandpapa were just commenting from there, adding their information.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2007

August 06, 2012

 Actually, Nancy, the thrust of centaur's OP was that people contemplating a trip later in the year purchase their Euro's now because centaur believes the exchange rate will increase unfavorably towards the dollar in the future.  His mention of the transaction fees only went towards an example that if you purchase now, any fees you pay now will be offset by the ower cost of the Euro.  Nanaand papa ignored the thrust of the post and focused on the transaction fees, which essentially had nothing to do with the thrust of centaur's post.  Now if you want to take issue with centaur on his prediction of the direction in which the exchange rate is moving, which we essentially did in our first response to him, then that would be in keeping with the thrust of his post.  Moving the post to a discussion of transaction fees or the relative merits of an ATM vs. cash have periferal value only in the context of the original assertion.  You can use an ATM for convenience, but if the rate of exchange is less in your favor than purchasing in advance, it will cost you more.  Captainlarry offered that he's willing to pay more for the preceived convenience.  We very likely share centaur's view that we'd rather have the cash benefit of the lower exchange rate than preceived convenience. But that's how threads evolve. 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 887
Trips Taken: 11
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

August 06, 2012

I've never had trouble finding an ATM in any city since ATMs became popular.  We used to bring travelers' checks  -  remember those?  -  and there was quite often a service fee for cashing them.  And they were the same as cash.

The ATM I tried my last day in Dublin when I found myself short of cash informed me that I'd already taken out the limit for that day (something like the equivalent of $300 US).  It had been a week since I'd used an ATM.  So I went to another one and had no trouble.  In Uglich, I was very brave and used an ATM on the street with the help of some local people who were practicing their English on me.  One other place, Bruge I think, where the machine decided it didn't like my card.  But, on the whole, it's worked quite well for me.

Of course, I do try to bring some local currency just so I have it when I get to the country.  For taxis or coffee or whatever.  And I don't worry too much about the exchange rate and where it's going.  At least, when it's like this. 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 887
Trips Taken: 11
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

August 08, 2012

I'm not sure I understand your last paragraph.  Are you suggesting that Americans use credit cards and Europeans don't because we don't cheat on our income taxes?  And what about those stories about our credit cards not being accepted because they don't have the chips that European cards do?  Someone must be using them.

If any GCT traveler expects to pay for meals, rooms, or purchases with American dollars, I don't know where they've been hiding.  Twice in my travels, I've been asked for dollars.  Once in Russia in Svir Stroi when I bought a scarf from a stall and once in Vienna when I purchased a small box for my collection. 

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2007

August 08, 2012

Centaur-thank you for elaborating on your terminology.  we suspected that when you said "transaction fee," that you really meant "commission."  And you are indeed correct.  You never do get the posted rate; you get what whomever is exchanging the money wants to make for their handling the exchange.  Only those who purchase large contracts actually get the posted exchange.  However, in all fairness to nanaandpapa who took you literally, transaction fees for using either a credit or debit card may also be levied if you have to use an ATM, or take a cash advance on your credit card.  Some banks do not charge a transaction fee, while others do.

 

We also applaud your example of what can happen if you have insufficient local currency.  We have had to 'lend' money any number of times to fellow travelers who needed some change for a small snack, or found they didn't have enough to cover their share of a group meal because the restaurant didn't take credit cards.  Obviously, none of the other posters here has been in that situation, however, depending on ATMs exclusively does tend to leave one open to that.   Of course, if one carries cash, one is always open to having one's pocket picked.  so there are trade offs.

 

We believe, as we have posted in the past as well as earlier in this thread, that purchasing in advance always gives one the best possible rate.  However, we do take issue with you as to the direction the Euro is going. 

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 345
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

August 08, 2012

I sincerely believe that centaur is more widely traveled than I, and is especially more familiar with Europe. But from my personal experience between 2006 and 2011 visiting in 17 European countries, from Gibraltar to Russia and from Malta to Sweden, credit cards were almost universally accepted. Be it in large cities or small towns, my credit card was denied only when I tried to us AMEX. Visa and MasterCard were never, repeat, never refused. So if you are planning to pay most expenses using a Visa or a MasterCard, I suggest that you go confidently and comfortably.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2007

August 09, 2012

 Most travel organizations and web sites recommend that you make your purchases using a credit card, because it obviates the need to carry large amounts of cash and does give you some recourse if the purchase turns out to be less than satisfactory, while giving you toe rate of exchange which is in effect at the time of purchase.  It becomes more attractive if you have a credit card which does not levy a transaction fee for each transaction( there are a few that don't-see nanaandpapa's post to which we will add Capital One ).  And captainlarry adds that American Express is not as widely accepted as they would like.

 

However, creditcards don't go very far in paying a taxi bill, paying for snacks along the way, being accepted in many smaller restaurants which want only cash, of which there are a number overseas, paying admission fees in many attractions, using public transportation, just for a few examples.  Cash helps.  And, as centaur opined, purchasing your currency in advance, when you can track the rates AND get the best exchange rate is certainly in your interest.  And in consideration of that, it may actually pay you to pay cash instead of using a credit card, if you purchased your currency at a lower rate than is in effect when you use your card.  

 

But convenience is another factor, however, remember, it isn't free.  You get to pay for it.  If you don't mind paying for it, fine.  But others, ourselves among them find it just as convenient to purchase our currency in advance AND pay less.  To each his own. 

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2007

August 09, 2012

 An afterthought-at the time of this posting, the Euro is now $1.2356 and the markets have not yet opened.

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 445
Trips Taken: 15
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

August 09, 2012

 Who cares about exchange rate changes of less than a penny on a dollar, when you are spending many thowsands of dollars on a trip, unaffected by exchange rate and a small fraction of that that is.

Aslo, if you could accurately predict exchange rates, even for tomorrow, let alone months in the future, you would be very wealthy.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 887
Trips Taken: 11
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

August 09, 2012

Very true!

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2007

August 09, 2012

 As we said, to each his own.  it is evident that nanaandpapa are uninterested in saving even a few pennies on the dollar, however, if one takes centaur's advice and purchases low for future use, it can be quite substantial.  On our recent trip to Spain, we used Euros which we purchased in advance for around $1.20, but at the time, cost $1.30.  So, it wasn't a few pennies.  It essentially amounted to a little more than the cost of a dinner, based on what we generally spend on trips.  The trick, as centaur opined is to buy and hold for future use.  In point of fact, the entire premise is based on the fact that the exchange rate is going to go UP.  

 

As far as predicting, it reqally isn't very difficult.  All one needs to do is peruse the Wall Street Journal and one quickly understands in what direction the currency markets are moving and why.  And indeed, if one HAD the sufficient capital to invest one would certainly be able to achieve the returns based on those market movements, as in fact many do.  Unfortunately we do not have the sufficient capital to reap the large investment rewards that others do, but we in fact DO reap the rewards by purchasing our Euros at less than the cost of using an ATM.  So we'll enjoy the meal we get to have 'on the house' because we saved on the exchange rate by purchasing in advance, while others will enjoy the bill they get for paying for that same meal via an ATM or credit card, if in fact they can use a credit card.

 

But as we said, to each his own.  If you want the convenience, you get to pay for it. 

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

August 09, 2012

Yes, true. I am always surprised that people will spend so much on a trip, and then worry about pennies, or won't pay an extra $50 or something for a marvelous optional or whatever. Chances are high that most people won't be back to that particular part of the world again, and chances are almost 100% that we won't be back to this earth again at all, one of these days. (Kind of like people who own a very expensive car and drive all over town trying to find gas that is a penny cheaper than somewhere else)....but as someone stated earlier, to each his own, I guess...........) Just go on the trip. Have a good time. Don't worry so much about pennies.

Speaking of credit cards, I guess that most people who have traveled outside of the US know to notify your credit card company that you will be or might be using your card in China, or Africa or wherever. Sometimes their security "shuts down" a card if charges start coming in from places that it doesn't expect normally. Most first time overseas travelers don't always know this.

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