I've got a couple of American friends coming over in the new year. We're going to London and Amsterdam and as such they will need pounds and Euros. It seems there are a few options available for money exchange, however changing the money beforehand apparantly isn't an option.
* Arrive in London and take the money out at an ATM, do the same in Amsterdam - requires money exchange fee
* Bring US dollars and change them at a bank here - seems you'd get raped on the exchange rate
* Pay a portion of the costs owed to me in cheque and get the remainder out in cash - does this incur charges?
Not living in the US I obviously don't know the answer. Could any transnational snopesters advise the most sensible way of exchanging money?
-------------------- Vox populi vox canem Posts: 1985 | From: Reading, England | Registered: Dec 2002
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I haven't been over to Europe, but having just consulted my housemates who have, they tell me the best thing to do, actually, is to have them use their credit card as much as possible. (So long as they pay it off promptly -- no sense saving on the exchange rate if they wind up eating it in interest charges instead.)
Next best is the ATM method -- there's an exchange fee, but it's less than most other ways, apparently.
If others have more knowledge, I am prepared to stand corrected.
I did this many years ago, so not sure if it is a good option these days or not. I am a member of AAA motor club, and got free traveler's checks as a part of my membership. I traveled to Canada and got traveler's checks in Canadian dollars before I left. Most all of the merchants accepted them, and you get change back in cash. Now, I was only there for a couple of weeks, so was able to get a fairly close estimate of my expenses before I left. I did put large expenses such as my hotel bill and some shopping on the credit card. But I did want to have pocket money.
ETA - I tried to get cash with my ATM card and it didn't work. I don't know why, as I had plenty in the account.
Posts: 193 | From: Seymour, Indiana | Registered: Oct 2005
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quote:Originally posted by violetbon: ETA - I tried to get cash with my ATM card and it didn't work. I don't know why, as I had plenty in the account.
I asked the teller at my bank (credit union, actually) about using the ATM when I go to Ireland in May, and she said to let them know before I leave so that she could make some kind of adjustment to my account and then it should work fine (very technical answer, I know ).
As for the OP, I agree that using a credit card whenever possible is the best, since it uses the exchange rate that is in effect at the time of the transaction. Otherwise, when I've been to Switzerland (for example) I exchange a small amount of money at the airport exchange before I leave to go to my hotel. I believe it is less expensive than a bank, but for me it was the convenience of having cash before I actually had to be anywhere.
Remember that M+S and the Post Office both change currency commision free. I find M+S usually gives the better exchange rate.
I must admit when in Italy recently I just used an ATM as I wasn't getting too much money and it was far more convenient not having to walk about with cash. I probably didn't get a great exchange rate, yet I wasn't hit too badly by charges, but this will obviously vary.
EQT said what I was going to say. I'll add, though, that they need to be aware of what the foreign transaction fees are. For example, the card we used in London (a AAA Platinum Visa from MBNA) only charged 1%. Most charge 2%, and some charge even more.
As long as the foreign transaction fee is reasonable, a credit card is the most cost effective way of paying for things while abroad. They'll still want to get out some cash, of course, but the ATM is probably going to be their best bet. Again, they should check with their bank to see what surcharges (if any) using an ATM in Europe may entail.
Can USD be used in London at all, or did I make that all up? No, I'm seriously wondering. Though, if someone was to try to pay their restaurant tab, in the US, with British Pounds I doubt it'd work out. But something that was said earlier in one of the threads game me this idea that USD are acceptable in some countries. I know, it was my thread about the guy that wanted the $100 bills in good shape to take to China.
-------------------- Explore, enjoy and protect the planet --- AAMAH Posts: 8532 | From: Michigan | Registered: Mar 2000
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I just asked a UK friend of mine in MSN (She lives in Bath/Sussex County). She told me nope you cannot use USD anywhere in England. Only foreign currency accepted now is the Euro.
I don't know if USD is accepted anywhere else outright- usually the ones that do don't have a stable economy- those countries also tend to accept sterling too. (or so says my friend...she's traveled A LOT more than I have)
well as someone who used to work at a foreign exchange at the airport. rates are usually comparable. there is the flat fee that you have to pay however which makes transfering small amounts undesirable. of course doing your research is always best. keep in mind rates change daily.
But i will agree that travellers cheques, (you can get them in both UK pounds sterling and Euros) are the best if you forsee yourself carrying more than roughly $500 cash on hand. Travellers cheques also have insurance, so that if you lose them you have a method to recover the loss rather than just losing that money. Some cash is definately necessary whereever you go. i wouldn't take more than $100 bucks cash though, and pay for everything like hotels, meals etc on credit card.
Posts: 153 | From: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | Registered: Dec 2004
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Shops and restaurants in Amsterdam don't accept US$ for payments. Credit cards are also not as much used in shops in the Netherlands as in USA or UK, but most restaurants and hotels accept them. Make sure you have the right kind of credit card. Master and Visa are best known. Don't change (or buy) at the airport unless you have to. Use an ATM in Amsterdam. The exchange rate is fair and you pay only like US$10 penalty When going from Schiphol airport to Amsterdam, use the train. It is faster and a LOT cheaper. Avoid taxis in Amsterdam. They are horrible. Buy a 1 day tram ticket at the tourist center across the Central Station or walk. You can get to almost anything in a half hour walk (unless you are too drunk or stoned). Paul
Posts: 5 | From: Amsterdam, Netherlands | Registered: Jul 2006
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The best way I have found is to get American Express Travelers checks and exchange them at an American express office. No fees involved at all. However, it can be incomvient. Second best if use the ATM. Money exchance offices tend to charge a percentage but the ATM charge a flat rate.
Also, when I travel, I try to exchange money before departure. I think most banks can order foreign currency for you. I learned this the hard way. I flew into Cape Town, RSA, and the entire ATM network was down in the country. Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, unablet o go to a bank to exchange USD for SAR. RSA is/was a predominant cash society and Visa cards are/were not taken many places.
Many merchants from different countries will take USD but, the exchance rates are terrible and not worth it.
-------------------- Just singin' in the Bahrain Posts: 49 | From: Manama, Bahrain | Registered: Aug 2006
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