Where to Get Best Rate on Euros

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by miloki, May 22, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. miloki
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    miloki Silver Member

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    I want to buy some Euros before I leave for Europe. In the past, I have purchased foreign currency at the Amex Travel store. But am now thinking AAA might give me a better rate. Does anyone have any experience with either of these? Where will I get the better deal?

    Thanks!
     
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  2. jmrich1432
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    jmrich1432 Silver Member

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    It depends on where you live, but I have gotten by far the best rates at the Forex kiosks in the mall. You wouldn't think they would have the best rates, but after researching multiple times for different trips, they're always the lowest. They beat out Amex, Bank of America and AAA for me on their regular rates. And the one near me (Tampa, Fl) will beat any published rates.

    They also don't charge a service fee for military or for students so I always go with a military or student friend.
     
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  3. superscot
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    superscot Gold Member

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    I never buy forex in advance - I just use ATMs at my destination. This works best for me using a UK bank debit card issued on my current (chequing) account. Near wholesale exchange rates plus an approx $2 fee from my bank and a $2 fee from the bank owning the ATM. No wasted time either. I suspect tthe same may be also the case with US banks but YMMV.
     
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  4. jwsky
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    jwsky Silver Member

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    I also exchange at the airport when I arrive at an ATM. My Charles Schwab account pays all fees for ATMs. My B of A account has a hefty fee plus what the ATM's bank charges.

    If you want to exchange cash, that is another story. Airports often offer the worst rate. Just change enough to get you where you need to go.
     
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  5. miloki
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    miloki Silver Member

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    Thanks, but not really my issue. My husband is going to need to race from the plane to a ship and needs cash for a cab. We know how to use ATM machines.
     
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  6. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Charges like that are why I left my last U.S. bank. They started charging a set fee for foreign ATM use ($1.25-$1.50) plus 2%. Walked right in and canceled my account just on that issue. Now I have a different bank with no ATM fees, reimbursement of any ATM fees I am charged by foreign banks (have only seen that happen once in Canada), and transactions at the daily bank rate. I'm out of the U.S. so much (5 Europe trips so far this year) that I'm saving hundreds of dollars a year.
     
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  7. miloki
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    miloki Silver Member

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    That's really smart, Tom. I remember when I could use my credit cards and not get foreign transaction fees either Not anymore, of course!
     
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  8. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Actually, there are a couple U.S. cards out there with no forex. I have one of them (Priority Club VISA) and another is Hyatt's VISA card.
     
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  9. miloki
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    miloki Silver Member

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    Good to know. We're in a (self-imposed) credit applying freeze right now, but down the road I may just look into them. Thanks!
     
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  10. BurBunny
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    BurBunny Silver Member

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    I've found Wells Fargo, either purchased on line or in person, to have consistently the best purchase rates. Even if you're a non-customer and have to pay the fee.

    With regard to ATMs (even though OP isn't looking to use one), the only one I've found thus far which doesn't impose forex fees of at least 1% are the CapOne Money Market ATM cards. Not all their MM accounts offer ATM, but those which do don't charge any forex fees at all, just like their CCs. Free ACH transfers, too, so I just transfer in funds ahead of travel (and always keep a bit in there with interest just in case), and access overseas.
     
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  11. Italy98
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    We had taxis in Paris, Padova and Napoli accept credit cards. Not sure if this is common where you will be going. Maybe some of our more knowledgeable members can comment?
     
  12. miloki
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    miloki Silver Member

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    I will be using ATMs. I just want to bring a small amount of cash with me. Hence my question about Amex vs. AAA. ;-) I'm going to have to call around. Just figured some people here would have some experience with one or both.
     
  13. BurBunny
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    BurBunny Silver Member

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    Many now do. Just be very careful and specifically ask to be charged in the local currency (Euro, whatever). Otherwise, you might be subject to "dynamic conversion."
     
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  14. miloki
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    miloki Silver Member

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    Well, so far AAA is a complete ripoff. They sell $100 packs of 59 Euros. That's like a 12-Euro surcharge! Are you kidding me? I thought AAA was supposed to be a money saver! So they are definitely out. My local Amex travel location seems to have disappeared. I'm still looking into their rates.
     
  15. BurBunny
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  16. miloki
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    miloki Silver Member

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    HUGE difference! And they're right across the street from my office (although I don't have an account there). I may just go there for simplicity's sake. Thanks!
     
  17. BurBunny
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    Excellent! Just be aware not all local branches have Forex desks, and they do have limited hours. Might want to call before you go over and check.

    I've used them for years, for personal and recommending to clients, and they've always been excellent. Their online services are quick and easy as well. I'm a non-member, but have never had a problem, and they've always been within pennies of the absolute lowest rate I could find. I don't even look elsewhere most of the time now.
     
  18. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Back in the 90s they partnered with American Express and you could redeem at AMEX offices all across Europe with about a 3% surcharge. Somewhere along the way they went to a different travelers check provider (can't recall who they went to) and I had to go into banks to exchange them into local currency. That was about the time I switched entirely to an ATM card (probably 10 years or more ago now). I usually bring around $200 cash with me as a backup, as well as credit cards that I can draw cash on if needed (had to do that in Sweden once when my ATM card network was down).
     
  19. goodandclassy
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    goodandclassy Silver Member

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    which bank?

    i opened an account with Ally (I've sworn off CapOne) and it does the job, but it's good to know if there are other options

    gracias!
     
  20. tom911
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    My account is with State Farm Bank.
     
  21. goodandclassy
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    thank you! I should look into that.
     
  22. miloki
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    miloki Silver Member

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    Just wanted to share the interesting lunch hour I just had in downtown, Los Angeles. I headed across the street to the Wells Fargo Bank at THE Wells Fargo Center. Yes, they have currency exchange every day, all day. Unfortunately, though, this is only for people who have an account with them (which is not, by the way, what their website says!). So I decided to walk to Citibank, where I do have an account. They can order Euros for me, but it will take about a week. No thanks. But apparently there is a currency exchange place at the "World Trade Center" (which made me laugh, because, well, I'm from New York). In New York, you can exchange currency almost everywhere, so this is all very strange to me. The nearest Amex Travel is way in Beverly Hills, so I'm not making that trip. Looks like I will trudge over to the "World Trade Center" later this week.
     
  23. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Miloki,

    ATM's (actual banks, not commercial ones) tend to be the best deal. If you're a Bank of America customer, you can use Deutcshe Bank (in Germany) and BNP Paribas (in France) at no cost (no ATM/Foreign Transaction fees).

    :)robin
     
  24. miloki
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    miloki Silver Member

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    Yes, as I've said, I know how to use an ATM. We need some Euros before we leave.
     
  25. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Right, I was assuming you knew how to use an ATM, just pointing out which ones to use. :rolleyes: With gas prices and Wells Fargo being near your office, they may be your best bet....unfortunately!
     

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