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bgula
02-27-2010, 08:04 PM
We're up in the air trying to decide what to bring with us on this cruise. Usually we'll take traveler's cheques and a little bit of cash, but that's only dealing with US $'s. Now we've got to deal with Euros & British Pounds. We're not sure if we should take TC's, or just rely on our credit card and some cash. Anyone have thoughts on what route we should go?

kcashner
02-27-2010, 08:13 PM
I'm dealing with the same issues....and oh yeah, there's something called a Gibralter Pound or some such thing...but they supposedly take Euros and British Pounds there as well.

My bank can get Euros and British Pounds on 2 days notice with no exchange fees. No travelers checks except US $. Credit card fee on foreign transactions is 3% of the transaction.

Guest Services will do currency exchange, but I'm told the rates were quite terrible on the last European cruises.

IF you are booking excursions thru DCL, you will be charged in US $, and have relatively few needs for local currency. My logic is that I'm going to get a small amount of Euros, knowing that I'll use them on a future trip if not on this one. Since I'm booking an excursion privately in Gibralter and have a layover in London on the way home, I'll also get a small amount in British Pounds. That's more cash than I like to carry, but I do have a safe on the ship. The rest will be in traveler's checks with credit cards as a back up.

NancyIL
02-27-2010, 08:40 PM
You're going to pay a fee of some sort whether you pay with a credit card, get foreign currency from your bank, or get cash from an ATM in Europe. I haven't bothered with travelers checks in years. My first choice would be to use an ATM for local currency.

Be careful when using your credit card. If the merchant asks if you want your purchase charged in your local currency (US or Canadian dollars) - say NO. Sometimes they won't even ask and will just charge you in dollars. While you won't have the foreign currency conversion charge from your credit card company for charges in your currency, the merchant sets the exchange rate, and it isn't in your favor.

On a trip to Europe and then a Transatlantic cruise in September, I made several large ATM withdrawals (as close to $500 US as possible) in pounds and euros - depending on where I was. I paid for most tours in cash, and charged very little.

woody73
02-27-2010, 09:08 PM
Currency question for EBTA

We're not sure if we should take TC's, or just rely on our credit card and some cash.
Your first port is Madeira, Portugal, whose currency is the Euro.

I would get some Euros in advance. Try to get some small bills, for souvenirs and refreshments. Many vendors won't accept large bills for small purchases.

Woody

bgula
02-27-2010, 09:08 PM
You're going to pay a fee of some sort whether you pay with a credit card, get foreign currency from your bank, or get cash from an ATM in Europe. I haven't bothered with travelers checks in years. My first choice would be to use an ATM for local currency.

Be careful when using your credit card. If the merchant asks if you want your purchase charged in your local currency (US or Canadian dollars) - say NO. Sometimes they won't even ask and will just charge you in dollars. While you won't have the foreign currency conversion charge from your credit card company for charges in your currency, the merchant sets the exchange rate, and it isn't in your favor.

On a trip to Europe and then a Transatlantic cruise in September, I made several large ATM withdrawals (as close to $500 US as possible) in pounds and euros - depending on where I was. I paid for most tours in cash, and charged very little.

I don't use ATM's, so that's out. I realize that I will pay a fee no matter what I use - I just want to be safe (i.e. not have to carry a lot of cash around with me). Are TC's widely accepted in Europe? Never been there before, so I'm flying blind on this.

kcashner
02-27-2010, 09:20 PM
As recently as 2 years ago, you could get a better exchange rate with traveler's checks than with cash. Since I don't pay a fee to get them, that helps a bit with the exchange. The down side is that you still need to go to a change place. That's why I'm getting a little local currency to take along.

By the way, I can't post to our new cruise meet thread...don't know why or what is happening. It acts like I'm posting but they disappear.

shaylahc1
02-27-2010, 09:34 PM
I am wondering this also. We are doing the EBTA AND the 1st Med and I'm debating how much cash (in Euros) to bring:confused3

MinnieDiva
02-27-2010, 10:09 PM
My bank can get Euros and British Pounds on 2 days notice with no exchange fees. No travelers checks except US $. Credit card fee on foreign transactions is 3% of the transaction.

According to American express's site, traveler's checks in Euros are available. There is a place to enter your zip sp as to ascertain locations. Haven't pursued it yet, as I'm doing the aug 18 med.

kcashner
02-27-2010, 10:53 PM
According to American express's site, traveler's checks in Euros are available. There is a place to enter your zip sp as to ascertain locations. Haven't pursued it yet, as I'm doing the aug 18 med.

Thanks...I knew they existed as I've used them on other trips. However, the local places (bank, AAA) do travelers checks only in dollars. I'll check now!

dylan'smom
02-27-2010, 11:10 PM
This is exactly what I've been working on tonight!! I'm told that a VISA gift card is safer than risking comprimising your bank account ATM, but the ATM sure sounds like the easiest way to do it...

So we are getting a small amount of Euros & gift cards...I guess!!! Still can't decide.

bev

mrosen
02-27-2010, 11:16 PM
But can you really use Euro based American Express travelers checks in many places in europe? I've looked online and find references to these are not widely accepted in europe. Does anyone know?

EastYorkDisneyFan
02-27-2010, 11:18 PM
If you do get Euros you will be perfectly fine unless you plan on buying stamps at the post office in Gibraltar as they only except pounds sterling (British or Gib). You can easily exchange Euros at at bank or foreign exchange in town. You may require a passport to exchange at the bank.

MinnieDiva
02-27-2010, 11:19 PM
Thanks...I knew they existed as I've used them on other trips. However, the local places (bank, AAA) do travelers checks only in dollars. I'll check now!

Please post how it goes, fees and whatnot. I know my local banks don't have them, but I haven't done any further research.

woody73
02-27-2010, 11:42 PM
You can easily exchange Euros at at bank or foreign exchange in town. You may require a passport to exchange at the bank.
The OP is on the EBTA, which arrives in Madiera on a Sunday. Banks will be closed.

Woody

spyles
02-27-2010, 11:58 PM
I think we had a good discussion on this on the EBTA group chat - join us! We're a fun group! :)

So, here's my take on this, based on my travels to Europe and beyond. If you have a bank that will sell you Euros or British Pounds at a competitive rate, then I think that's a good start for a bit of seed money. There are times where ATMs are unavailable, banks close on Sundays and holidays (and we are in Madeira on Sunday - and I don't expect any banks open to cash Euro TC), or credit cards aren't taken. So, a little cash would be very beneficial to have. Oddly enough, I say this because I've been to cities where multiple ATMs I've attempted to use have been depleted due to a long holiday weekend - in countries like Canada, US, UK, Turkey, and Germany.

Competitive is a bit of a sticky quandary. A decent bank will charge about a 2-5% premium over interbank exchange rates to their customers for foreign currency. Banks usually won't charge a fee, but their exchange rate is likely higher than the interbank rate. Check out the EUR-USD and GBP-USD exchange rates and compare them to what your bank (or AAA) is selling currency for at a site like Yahoo! Finance - http://finance.yahoo.com/. I wouldn't buy thousands of Euros, but if a group of 4+ are going, a few hundred Euro each wouldn't be a break in the bank if you did this option, especially if you have a credit card that charges higher rates.

Speaking of credit cards and whatnot, since rates will likely fluctuate while we're there (and if you're staying longer in Europe or doing the B2B), you want to consider things like ATMs or credit cards for a majority of your transactions. I have one credit card from the days where I did a large amount of travel between the US/Canada/UK that does not add a surcharge, and I get charged about 0.25% on top of the interbank rate for my foreign transaction charges (it's allegedly 0%, but with fluctuations and whatnot, it's a penny here or there). Here's a good site that tells you about some cards, although I would suggest checking with your financial establishment regarding credit card and/or debit card fees to avoid any surprises... http://www.flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php/Credit/Debit/ATM_Cards_and_Foreign_Exchange

Oh...and if you do decide to use your credit/debit/charge card overseas, let your financial institution know your travel dates and countries you'll be visiting. The last thing you want is some account freeze because they're doing due diligence in ensuring that $300 charge in Cadiz is legit (or not)...

While credit cards can be convenient, some surcharges can really add expenses unnecessarily. However, the same can be said about using Gift Cards/Travelers Cheques/"Disposable" ATM cards - in terms of hidden surcharges for the use or procurement of these types of payment. You may be paying a higher rate of exchange, some Gift Cards add a 1% (or more) surcharge for overseas use, the list is endless. Some GC are only good in the US, so make sure that there's no restrictions if you do go this route, and that you are allowed to make PIN based transactions - that includes ATM withdrawals if you need them!

For me, the use of a good credit card, and a backup card is crucial. I bring my bank's ATM card to use in countries that allow for inexpensive ATM use (Bank of America is part of the "Global ATM Alliance" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_ATM_Alliance), so that I can have cash on hand. I have a small amount of currency as well that I bring from home, for everything from train tickets to a soda that I may need before I even see an ATM.

Two of my traveling companions each have a card on my credit card account, and they're also bringing their primary bank ATM, a backup credit card, as well as a small amount of Euro. Less clutter, less hassle, and less to worry about, IMHO.

-Steve

JTN2005
02-28-2010, 12:16 AM
I normally just use my atm

tvguy
02-28-2010, 12:17 AM
But can you really use Euro based American Express travelers checks in many places in europe? I've looked online and find references to these are not widely accepted in europe. Does anyone know?

Well, this is the first I've heard of this. Anyone run into this first hand? Travelers checks are usually accepted like they are cash. Only issue is some stores won't accept Travelers checks for a large amount above what you are buying, just like stores here in the U.S. that don't accept anything larger than a $20 bill. They just don't keep enough cash on hand to make change.
I always travel with both U.S. dollar travelers checks, and travelors checks in the currents of the country I am in. I haven't used a debit card (but I only started using a debit card at home about 2 years ago, and am considering going back to writing checks!! I keep a couple of hundred dollars worth of travelers checks on hand in case of emergency)
My son took a Visa BUXX card to Europe and just took cash out as he needed it. This is basically a Visa debit/gift card targeted at students. So a Visa Buxx or Visa Gift card would be a good option for folks concerned about their bank account security. I also went to American Express and got $100 worth of Euros for him to have on hand until he could get to an ATM.

Dicecatt
02-28-2010, 01:55 AM
Capital One is a good card to have for International use. I used it in Egypt to get cash with very low fees, and my sister uses hers all over...she lived in Moldova and used it a lot...also in Romania, and she is living in England now.

I compared getting foreign currency from my bank to just exchanging at the airport, and the airport turned out to be better. I did that in Egypt and will do it again in Spain. I do hate to carry a large amount of cash, but I plan on splitting it up between my husband and myself and changing it in at the airport for Euros, a lot of our tours are private and paid in Euro in cash, so a lot of cash is necessary for us.

NancyIL
02-28-2010, 10:02 AM
I compared getting foreign currency from my bank to just exchanging at the airport, and the airport turned out to be better. I did that in Egypt and will do it again in Spain. I do hate to carry a large amount of cash, but I plan on splitting it up between my husband and myself and changing it in at the airport for Euros, a lot of our tours are private and paid in Euro in cash, so a lot of cash is necessary for us.

You'll get a better exchange rate by getting cash from an ATM at a foreign airport than by exchanging US dollars for another currency at a currency exchange. I would save your US dollars to use as a last resort.

Check what your local bank charges for foreign currency, and compare to Wells Fargo: https://www.wellsfargo.com/foreignexchange/

Dicecatt
02-28-2010, 08:12 PM
I'll check out that link, thanks. The biggest problem is the amount needed...there is a daily limit for cash at an ATM, and we need much more than that doing several private tours. Anyone have any suggestion for that? Obviously a better exchange rate would be more welcome but I don't have several days in a row to take cash out.

woody73
02-28-2010, 08:18 PM
The biggest problem is the amount needed...there is a daily limit for cash at an ATM, and we need much more than that doing several private tours. Anyone have any suggestion for that?
The daily limit is per account. Take ATM cards for different accounts.

Woody

pjacobi
02-28-2010, 08:25 PM
I don't use ATM's, so that's out.

Why not?

In my experience in a dozen countries in Europe and even in Africa, the local ATM is the best place to get cash.

The rates are even better than USA banks since currency does not have to be shipped to the US.

Use the internet to locate the closest ATM. There's probably one in the port area.


-Paul

tvguy
02-28-2010, 08:34 PM
Why not?

In my experience in a dozen countries in Europe and even in Africa, the local ATM is the best place to get cash.

The rates are even better than USA banks since currency does not have to be shipped to the US.

Use the internet to locate the closest ATM. There's probably one in the port area.


-Paul

Well, as I posted, I am a late convert to debit and atm cards. Just too easy to forget to write in what you use it for I guess. With a check, I write it in before I write the check.
The big issue while traveling is your protections against theft and fraud are far less than with a credit card. While it is not impossible to dispute a fraudulent charged to you atm/debit card, it is signifigantly harder than with a credit card.
Bottom line, an ATM/Debit card is far less secure.
A co-worker of my wife had his identity stolen. They ran up $15,000 in charges on his credit card, and took $10,000 out of his checking account and the savings account linked to the card.
The credit card situation was cleared up and the charged removed within days. It took him 4 months to get he cash back, and the bank said he was lucky because they often can't refund all the cash stolen from an account.

LisaWalkerC21
02-28-2010, 08:37 PM
I have been stressing out about the $$ situation for months. We have three private tours scheduled for our upcoming Med cruise and I think I may take Euro travelers checks to pay for the private tours and then bring Euro from home - though how much to budget is another story...ugh! I don't know why I can't get passed thinking that something may go wrong with my ATM card, CC etc... while I am there and I won't be able to obtain cash especially for the private tours which require either Euro or travelers checks.

I do have a Capital One card that I obtained just for this trip.

I love reading what everyone plans to do with this situation. Keep your opinions coming...

Dicecatt
02-28-2010, 09:16 PM
The daily limit is per account. Take ATM cards for different accounts.

Woody

Now that answer was way too simple for me to think of, lol. Perfect solution:) That way, also, if I alert a few companies rather than just one, if something goes wrong with the card I am covered.

When I went to Egypt, I did take several hundred and covert at the airport, but the rest of the trip ATMs were handy and I just used Capital One rather than my bank account. However, that was a mostly land trip (4 day Nile cruise but partial land still during that time) so ATMs were available. Being on a ship makes me a little more nervous about not being able to access ATMs, although I'm sure they are plentiful in places like Rome and Naples as opposed to places like Abu Simbel and Komombo:)

kcashner
02-28-2010, 09:20 PM
A few years ago I fell for Capital One's ads on TV about having no exchange fee for international purchases. While in Amsterdam, I primarily used the Capital One for that reason. I also used the Disney Visa for one purchase.

Yeah....they're going to get you one way or another. The Capital One charged no exchange fee (the Disney Visa did), but the exchange rate on the Disney was MUCH better than on the Capital One card. SO, they didn't charge me a set fee, they just gave me a crappy exchange rate.

Dicecatt
02-28-2010, 09:49 PM
A few years ago I fell for Capital One's ads on TV about having no exchange fee for international purchases. While in Amsterdam, I primarily used the Capital One for that reason. I also used the Disney Visa for one purchase.

Yeah....they're going to get you one way or another. The Capital One charged no exchange fee (the Disney Visa did), but the exchange rate on the Disney was MUCH better than on the Capital One card. SO, they didn't charge me a set fee, they just gave me a crappy exchange rate.

Well, that is very interesting.

I did look at the exchange rate for EGP for capital one, and they seemed very competitive. I wonder if it depends on the currency. I'd rather use my Disney Visa...did you find that the better exchange rate offset the fee the Disney Visa charged?

kcashner
02-28-2010, 10:00 PM
Yes, it basically came out the same on charges of about $100. Disney Visa charges a 3% exchange fee (per my bank last week), so it depends on the amount you are charging.

All I can say for sure is that based on charges made on the same day, there was a significant difference in the exchange rate the two cards gave. It wasn't a matter of pennies! My only caution is that this was a couple years ago.

bgula
02-28-2010, 10:18 PM
Why not?

In my experience in a dozen countries in Europe and even in Africa, the local ATM is the best place to get cash.

The rates are even better than USA banks since currency does not have to be shipped to the US.

Use the internet to locate the closest ATM. There's probably one in the port area.


-Paul


1. Don't consider them safe - too many scams

2. Why would I pay to get at my own money when I can use a credit card for "free"?

Hate debit cards - I'll never have one.

Just my opinion.

woody73
02-28-2010, 11:34 PM
I don't use ATM's, so that's out.



Why not?
Although I use ATM's, I can think of one reason not to: skimmers (http://consumerist.com/2009/04/reader-finds-card-skimmer-on-bank-atm.html).

Woody

EastYorkDisneyFan
03-01-2010, 01:38 AM
The OP is on the EBTA, which arrives in Madiera on a Sunday. Banks will be closed.

Woody

I meant that part for in Gibraltar as for the EBTA it's the only port other then castaway cay that you will not be able to use euros in all places.