Way OT: Currency Exchange?

Submitted by smitty1983 on August 4th, 2017 at 8:43 AM

I know alot of people on the board travel, so i had a question of what is the best process to get Euros? Should i get them here in a travel exchange? Wait to get some money at the airport? From what i've read online, its best to wait and get them money there at an ATM? I know my credit union charges a 1% transaction fee. Can any travlers let me know what they find is the best process. Thanks. Go Blue. 



August 4th, 2017 at 9:17 AM ^

Most credit cards these days have waived fees for foreign transactions and are the way to go.  That said, you will always need to have a few Euros on hand for incidentals.  You can get them on the spot at most big banks (Chase will exchange) for a fair exchange rate.  If you are already in Europe and need cash, any bank will give you a better rate than the Exchange Services you see at airports and train stations.


August 4th, 2017 at 11:10 AM ^

Most major credit card companies don't have foreign fees (like Capital One), however I think it's important to note that depending on where he's traveling, credit cards might not be the answer.

I lived in southern Germany for a year, and 80% of everything there is cash only. Make sure you do research about where you're traveling. 

As far as how to get money cheaply, I found pulling cash out of an ATM in Germany was the cheapest route. I have BOA, and they are partnered with Deutsche Bank which allows me to withdrawl money from my BOA account without any fees.

Go Blue Eyes

August 4th, 2017 at 11:52 AM ^

I have the Sapphire and United Explorer card.  No foreign fees.  I would use your CC as much as you can.

Don't get money at the airport unless it's an emergency.

Our credit union offers exchange rates that are without fees so we take cash from there first but I try to use the credit card as much as possible (more and more miles!).


August 4th, 2017 at 8:54 AM ^

Lived overseas for a few years. Best way to get money is ATM. Make sure you have a low rate. 1% really isn't bad. Make sure the exchange rates are good though. All of the places in airports charge no 'fees' but they give you terrible exchange rates.


August 4th, 2017 at 9:26 AM ^

Echoing this guy and virtually everyone else. Don't exchange before the trip or in the airports. Just withdraw cash from your ATM. You'll get the best, most current rates that way. Never, ever exchange with your hotel. It is the worst deal imagineable. 

Sione For Prez

August 4th, 2017 at 8:55 AM ^

Most places will take credit cards so get one with no foreign transaction fees. Most major banks and CC companies will be an option for you. My Capital One Visa was easy on my recent trip. Many places will not take american express so keep that in mind.

I would try to avoid exchanging at an airport as their rates are always worse. In metro Detroit there are multiple exchange companies that will give you better rates.


August 4th, 2017 at 9:01 AM ^

As was mentioned, get a CC with no foreign transaction fees. Also, get as little cash as you think you need to pay for the few places that don't take CC.

I just bought Euros at a Chase branch for $1.27 when the are trading at $1.18 on the market. That is a 7.5% premium. Chase charges around 3% from an ATM, but you have to factor in fees. If you have premium checking account the fees may be waved. if you have basic checking, you may pay ATM fees from the ATM and from your bank, on top of their currency premium.


August 4th, 2017 at 9:08 AM ^

I agree with most of what has been said before.  Capital One Visa is what works for me as no foriegn transaction fees.  I also do atms if I need cash.

I also bring us dollars and exchange in the country there are usually exchange locations in the touristy parts.  They seem to have good exchange rates.

From my experience the airport exchange places give you bad rates.  Can always check on your phone.


August 4th, 2017 at 9:09 AM ^

Definitely ATM if you can.

I've also heard you can order cash to be mailed to you before you go. Haven't used this method, but sounded intriguing. Might be worth some research.

Everyone Murders

August 4th, 2017 at 9:20 AM ^

Bring both a Visa and a Mastercard if you have both.  Unlike the U.S., many businesses overseas only accept one or the other. 

And, as everyone else said, ATMs.  Thomas Cook is a bad deal in my experience, due to disfavorable exchange rates.

Blue Baughs

August 4th, 2017 at 9:24 AM ^

Set up on a street corner in a busy area of town at peak hours, and play your heart out. The better you play, the more Euros.

Unless in France. Then get your Mime game on point. They pay big bucks for anyone who can get themselves comicly trapped inside a glass box.


August 4th, 2017 at 9:25 AM ^

Many have mentioned credit cards which waive the transaction fee, but having some cash is always a good idea, too.

I travel internationally quite a bit to Europe for work and have a corporate Amex, which is helpful for bigger item type stuff but many small vendors even in cities like London & Paris will not accept Amex since their fees are so high. Just beware. 


August 4th, 2017 at 10:39 AM ^

Yeah it's been a bit frustrating for me but I get reimbursed (including any fees incurred). Honestly I wish they'd give us both Amex and some sort of Visa. 

In England I had issues with the Amex because some vendors wanted a 4 digit PIN, but American-Issued Amex cards do not support the PIN yet so they were basically like "lol sorry". 


August 4th, 2017 at 9:26 AM ^

As others mentioned, ATMs are the way to go.  I checked online to see which European banks my bank was partnered with, and used those ATMs to avoid extra fees.  Also, you might want to alert your bank and cc company that you are traveling abroad.  I bought my Eurostar pass ahead of time and received a fraud alert phone call.



August 4th, 2017 at 9:30 AM ^

As an extra bit of advice, make sure your card has a chip in it. At the places in Europe that I've traveled to most recently, my preferred debit card, a PayPal card, was useless. PayPal doesn't plan on rolling chipped cards out until next year.


August 4th, 2017 at 9:45 AM ^

OT, but when I was in Russia the best exchange rate was with a guy with a calculator on a couch in a hotel lobby. There was a very large gentleman watching carefully nearby. 

Later on during that trip I went to the hotel bar there and was told by the bouncers that it was dangerous for me to be there. 

Wolverine 73

August 4th, 2017 at 9:56 AM ^

Tell them to get you some euros or whatever before you leave. There was no charge at mine (PNC) . Then alert your bank that you will be traveling overseas and use your bank ATM card overseas to take out whatever cash you need. Again, if you take it out of your own checking or savings, there should be no additional fee. Use a credit card with no foreign transaction fee, but always have cash because some places will not take a credit card. Also, look at the back of your bank card and see if it has a Bancomat or Cirrus logo. Those are the networks of affiliated banks. You can use the card at any ATM overseas that displays whichever network you are a part of to access your account.

UM Griff

August 4th, 2017 at 10:02 AM ^

Just for having a checking account at Chase, I was able to exchange my dollars for Euros with no transaction fees. Did this about 10 days before my trip - it was great!!


August 4th, 2017 at 10:04 AM ^

Watch out for Dynamic Currency Conversion when using your credit card in Europe.  

Places will ask you 'for convenience' if you want to be charged in dollars. You will get an absolute shit exchange rate.  Always charge in Euros with your CC that does not have foreign transaction fees.


August 4th, 2017 at 10:20 AM ^

I travel internationally about 10 times per year and work for one of the major card issuers.

1. Get a card with no foreign transaction fees. I recommend the Chase Sapphire preferred or the AMEX Gold card.

2. Get all cash from the ATMs there. Don't bother with local banks and definitely not the crooks in the airport.

3. Always choose to transact in local currency. Dynamic currency conversion may work out to pennies per transaction but it adds up.


August 4th, 2017 at 10:12 AM ^

I have a cash-back rewards credit card (Visa) through my bank.  It does have foreign fees (3%), but I get 1.75% back on all purchases anyway.  So, I decided a 1.25% fee was worth not signing up for a new credit card.  It was only a $13 for every $1000 I spent over there.  


As for cash (which you should definitely have), ATMs are the way to go.  If you want some in pocket before you go - just for peace of mind - I once got some foreign currency from AAA and feel like I didn't get screwed too hard. Never, ever exchange in an airport.  


August 4th, 2017 at 10:57 AM ^

The good credit I've accrued with this card I've had for 10+ years is worth way more than the $10-20 I'd pay in fees.  I'm not going to cancel it and have that wiped from my record just to save a few bucks on a big trip every now and then.  

And yes, I am averse to having extra accounts linked to my credit - I'd prefer to limit it to only a few that I manage closely.  


August 4th, 2017 at 10:26 AM ^

All I can really say (other than using a credit card as much as possible with as low a fee as possible), is do not trust anyone's stories about such and such exchange rate or fees or whatever on their specific card, at their specific bank, at one specific time.  Not.One.Person. 

Use the information people give you, but do your own research.  Things are ALWAYS changing.



August 4th, 2017 at 10:54 AM ^

Recently bought $500 worth of Euros at a local Bank of Ann Arbor branch (not the main branch). Got a rate about halfway between what Wells Fargo was offering the the interbank exchange rate. They had the Euros on hand - if they hadn't I would have had to pay $12 for them to order/get them.

Used credit card without foreign exchange fee for most transactions while there.