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Old 06-23-2019, 09:10 AM
 
Location: equator
3,427 posts, read 1,527,565 times
Reputation: 8499

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After exhaustive research on the internet, I still cannot find a way to get favorable exchange rates: dollar to euro. I know that the current rate is 1.12 but at every ATM we went to, no matter where it was (tourist or non-tourist areas) we were hit with 1.20 to 1.22 exchange rate.

For a $500 withdrawal, this was $37 extra on top of the exchange rate, not counting ATM fees.

This adds up over time. Over our entire trip, we withdrew about $2,000 so paid $130 extra. Not a huge amount, but still. It seems like kind of a rip-off.

ATM and credit card fees were a mere $43 over 2 months, so I'm not too worried about those.

I thought that some credit card companies refunded ALL the fees, but now am told only the small ATM fees, not the conversion charges.

Thoughts?
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Old 06-23-2019, 09:32 AM
 
Location: North State (California)
39,389 posts, read 2,974,514 times
Reputation: 12858
The best rates are not for individuals. We got a credit card that does not charge the conversion fees on foreign transactions.
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Old 06-23-2019, 09:34 AM
 
9,188 posts, read 9,267,265 times
Reputation: 28759
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sand&Salt View Post
After exhaustive research on the internet, I still cannot find a way to get favorable exchange rates: dollar to euro. I know that the current rate is 1.12 but at every ATM we went to, no matter where it was (tourist or non-tourist areas) we were hit with 1.20 to 1.22 exchange rate.

For a $500 withdrawal, this was $37 extra on top of the exchange rate, not counting ATM fees.

This adds up over time. Over our entire trip, we withdrew about $2,000 so paid $130 extra. Not a huge amount, but still. It seems like kind of a rip-off.

ATM and credit card fees were a mere $43 over 2 months, so I'm not too worried about those.

I thought that some credit card companies refunded ALL the fees, but now am told only the small ATM fees, not the conversion charges.

Thoughts?
What debit card do you have? You need to get one with a bank or credit union which has zero exchange fees when you use these machines. Capital One has such a debit card. Many local credit unions do.

Also, when I'm in Europe I try to put as many of my expenditures as I can on a credit card that is also a no exchange rate card (try Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express Platinum). In some countries this is harder than others. However, I have found credit cards widely accepted in France.
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Old 06-23-2019, 11:11 AM
 
2,591 posts, read 5,286,635 times
Reputation: 5188
> It seems like kind of a rip-off.

It's only a rip-off if there is a reasonable alternative.

The best exchange rates are for ATMs at banks using a credit card with minimal extra charges. Once you have done that, accept the exchange rate as a cost of doing business or just stay home.

For what it's worth, the exchange rate to the euro is excellent these days.
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Old 06-23-2019, 12:14 PM
 
Location: Tucson AZ & Leipzig, Germany
2,369 posts, read 7,760,109 times
Reputation: 3552
S&S, it's simple, you are using the wrong CC and Debit card when traveling in Europe. I spend many months in the warm weather season in Germany. I have zero fees from my US issued credit and debit cards.

Yesterday, I bought a train ticket using my USAA credit card at the Deutsche Bahn automated ticket machine, from Leipzig to Halle. My receipt says 7.70 Euro. I looked at my online credit card statement. That transaction has posted for a US dollar charge of $8.76. Yesterday, the USD to Euro conversion rate closed at 1.136. My CC transaction posted at 1.137 conversion rate, which was at the time the going conversion rate. It doesn't get much closer to zero fees than that.

Note, in Europe, it is very important to have a chip and pin credit card, if you want to use your credit card at automated machines to pay for train, local transport, airplane or bus tickets. Same applies to many retail stores. Only a handful of US credit cards (like mine from USAA) have chip security with PIN authentication (instead of "signature only").

Find a credit card like mine with zero foreign transaction and currency conversion fees, no "other bank ATM fees" and life will be better. You can also open a bank account with Charles Schwab and get a debit card with zero foreign transaction and currency conversion fees, and no "other bank ATM" fees.
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Old 06-23-2019, 12:24 PM
 
1,265 posts, read 1,566,006 times
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Europe has no ATM fees.
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Old 06-23-2019, 12:32 PM
 
Location: Tucson AZ & Leipzig, Germany
2,369 posts, read 7,760,109 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corydon View Post
Europe has no ATM fees.
Some US banks or credit cards charge a fee if you use a US credit card or debit card at an ATM outside the USA, in addition to a foreign exchange transaction fee.
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Old 06-23-2019, 12:41 PM
 
Location: On the road
5,923 posts, read 2,887,264 times
Reputation: 11331
As others pointed out, it's your bank that is doing you wrong here. Get a debit/ATM card that has no FOREX fees and reimbursed any foreign ATM fees. Examples are Schwab and USAA.

For Schwab try the savings account with ATM card, it doesn't have the requirement for an investor account tied to it like the their checking account does. The only negative is since it's a savings account only six withdrawals per month, but ATM usage doesn't count against that limit so it's fine as a travel card. No min balance, no FOREX, reimbursement of ATM fees without limit, IMO it's hands down the best card for traveling.

USAA has a $15/month limit on ATM fee reimbursements which you can eat up really quickly in places like Indonesia and Thailand that have high ATM fees, but it's easy to work around by having more than one account. Aside from that it's same as Schwab no fees no nothing.

One tip = use an account firewall! Keep only enough for 1-2 ATM withdrawals in the account where you are physically carrying an ATM card, and transfer into it from another account that has your main stash as needed to replenish. That greatly limits your exposure to someone getting access to your funds via the card using a skimmer, and your vacation isn't in peril if it does happen since they aren't going to take all your cash out of your bank before you realize it.
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Old 06-23-2019, 03:37 PM
 
Location: In the land beyond Ohare!
895 posts, read 460,930 times
Reputation: 1938
As said, you're using the wrong cards and methods.

I use Chase, no foreign fees, good exchange rate. I'll only draw a minimum amount for incidentals from a major bank, not a no name atm, in the country I'm in and everything else goes on the the credit card. No issues or surprises so far.
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Old 06-23-2019, 04:23 PM
 
Location: equator
3,427 posts, read 1,527,565 times
Reputation: 8499
Quote:
Originally Posted by lieqiang View Post
As others pointed out, it's your bank that is doing you wrong here. Get a debit/ATM card that has no FOREX fees and reimbursed any foreign ATM fees. Examples are Schwab and USAA.

For Schwab try the savings account with ATM card, it doesn't have the requirement for an investor account tied to it like the their checking account does. The only negative is since it's a savings account only six withdrawals per month, but ATM usage doesn't count against that limit so it's fine as a travel card. No min balance, no FOREX, reimbursement of ATM fees without limit, IMO it's hands down the best card for traveling.

USAA has a $15/month limit on ATM fee reimbursements which you can eat up really quickly in places like Indonesia and Thailand that have high ATM fees, but it's easy to work around by having more than one account. Aside from that it's same as Schwab no fees no nothing.

One tip = use an account firewall! Keep only enough for 1-2 ATM withdrawals in the account where you are physically carrying an ATM card, and transfer into it from another account that has your main stash as needed to replenish. That greatly limits your exposure to someone getting access to your funds via the card using a skimmer, and your vacation isn't in peril if it does happen since they aren't going to take all your cash out of your bank before you realize it.
OK, thanks! I am applying for the Schwab card as we speak. It appears I can get it remotely since I'm not in the U.S., so we'll see. Phone authentication tomorrow.

A friend who travels and has Schwab thought it was ONLY the ATM fees, NOT the conversion fees.

There seems to be a lot of confusion between the 2 fees. Including mine, LOL. I don't keep much in the account I withdraw from, so doing that already.
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