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Old 02-03-2015, 09:02 AM
 
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Looks like we'll taking another trip to Europe in a few months. I wanted to ask some questions about exchange rates and purchases.

What do you recommend? I've heard that the best approach is use ATM machines with your debit card. I've also heard that a debit card issued by Capital One may be the best bet. It is supposed to have either no fees for obtaining currency or low fees? I have also heard that my own bank Chase has very high exchange rates on its cards. What are your experiences?

Related question: If you purchase things in Europe with your credit card what are the exchange fees like for doing that? Like the debit card, do some financial institutions offer better rates than others? Would you recommend a credit card from Capital One or another institution?
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:14 AM
 
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Cap One CCs have no transaction or exchange rate fees, its my go to for travel cards.

I like my AmEx generally as the rewards are better, but they have exchange rate fees so I rarely use it when out of the country.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:43 AM
 
Location: Western Washington
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I tend to use a chase credit card with no international change surcharge for most purchases. The exchange rate has always seemed reasonable.

For cash I Goto an ATM and make a reasonably large withdrawal. It only costs a few dollars for using an ATM that isn't owned by your bank (foreign ATM in multiple senses). The exchange rates are always better than the airport currency changers.
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
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If you are offered something called 'Dynamic Currency Conversion' or a merchant otherwise offers to bill you in US dollars (or the credit card's home currency) tell them a very firm 'No' in the relevant language. 99% of the time it converts at a horribly unfavorable rate.
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:52 AM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD
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Also check with you bank to see if they have partner banks in the countries that you will be visiting. If they have partner banks you will be able to avoid the service fees for using the ATM.

If you are looking to have cash before you go, you may also want to check with you bank to see what they will charge you to order foreign currency. While still more than taking out cash at a foreign ATM, you'll get a better rate than using a service like Travelex
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Old 02-03-2015, 11:47 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
I tend to use a chase credit card with no international change surcharge for most purchases. The exchange rate has always seemed reasonable.

For cash I Goto an ATM and make a reasonably large withdrawal. It only costs a few dollars for using an ATM that isn't owned by your bank (foreign ATM in multiple senses). The exchange rates are always better than the airport currency changers.
Pretty much what I do.

I buy enough currency for the first few days (or entire trip in countries with questionable or secure access to an ATM) from my bank. I don't want to take the chance of the ATM at the airport being broken or eating my card and there I am, stuck without some local currency.

I also will only use a bank ATM located at the bank during business hours. That way if the card is eaten it can be retrieved by banking officials. (from personal experience)

I pay for larger purchases where I want some guarantees, hotels, and other large expenses with a credit card.
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Old 02-03-2015, 11:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
I tend to use a chase credit card with no international change surcharge for most purchases. The exchange rate has always seemed reasonable.

For cash I Goto an ATM and make a reasonably large withdrawal. It only costs a few dollars for using an ATM that isn't owned by your bank (foreign ATM in multiple senses). The exchange rates are always better than the airport currency changers.
Agreed- this is what I do as well.
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Old 02-03-2015, 01:23 PM
 
Location: City of Angels
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charles schwab is prolly the best debit card for international travel.

chase debit card isn't that good IMO. like on my trip to thailand last year, after all the fees was getting around 30 baht to the dollar. whereas the cash i brought with me i exchanged for 32-ish baht to the dollar. not the end of the world, but that is over 6% lost on fees and bad exchange rate. wasn't particularly happy about it. prolly withdrew somewhere in the range of $3000 equivalent and lost $200 on fees.
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Old 02-03-2015, 01:27 PM
 
Location: City of Angels
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Originally Posted by annerk View Post
Pretty much what I do.

I buy enough currency for the first few days (or entire trip in countries with questionable or secure access to an ATM) from my bank. I don't want to take the chance of the ATM at the airport being broken or eating my card and there I am, stuck without some local currency.
never seen an airport that didn't have currency exchange. and i can't imagine getting a better rate at a US-based bank branch than at an airport currency exchange booth.

when i travel overseas, i never exchange in advance. just bring a bunch of cash, then change $100 or so at the airport when i arrive. then change the rest the following day in town when i find a place with good rates.
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Old 02-03-2015, 01:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by foadi View Post
never seen an airport that didn't have currency exchange. and i can't imagine getting a better rate at a US-based bank branch than at an airport currency exchange booth.

Eh, Travelex gave me much better rates than the airport exchange places. I never see the point in using the latter.
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