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Old 01-13-2013, 09:56 PM   #31
lilpooh108
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Originally Posted by Four Swampers View Post
What cruise are you doing? We are doing the June 15th Athens cruise.
Sorry, one last question about Wells Fargo. Which bank's CC did you use to buy the currency from Wells Fargo? Just curious since if I happen to have the same bank's CC then perhaps I won't be charged a cash advance fee as well.

Thanks for all the advice. I like the FP analogy for the Tower of Pisa.

We're on the June 1 Med, with days in London & Barcelona prior to the cruise and a few days in Paris after (hopefully). Our flight home from CDG is booked on United miles so at least that is pretty flexible. We're still trying to figure out all the excursions for now to see how we want to plan out overall itinerary.

Have fun on your Athens cruise!

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Old 01-13-2013, 10:03 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by ruadisneyfan2 View Post
I booked our hotel. We'll be staying at the Hispanos 7 Suiza. http://www.hispanos7suiza.com/photogallery/index.html
It's an condo/apartment style hotel about 2 blocks from Sagrada Familia. 230E for a 2br/2ba with LR, Kitchen, W/D, & free wifi. Not only does it sleep 4, but our kids will have their own bedroom and so does dh & I. It's not cheap but I much prefer this over having 2 non-connecting hotel rooms. Having a washer/dryer means we won't be dragging 3 days worth of dirty clothes for 4 of us onto the ship. 190E for a 1BR. This is a prepaid rate. It gets great reviews on TripAdvisor.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...Catalonia.html

The hotel offers port/airport transfers. It's 75E for 6 of us from BCN to hotel then 55E from hotel to port. I got a 2nd price from Barcelona Day Tours and they wanted 79E for each transfer.
http://www.barcelonadaytours.com/
I guess the hotel's price isn't so bad. There's no way we'd all fit in a taxi, or even 2. I've heard their taxis are very small by US standards.
We'll probably use Barcelona Day Tours for our city tour the day before we sail.
We were interested in Barcelona Day Tours for transfers and a tour but their prices were just too much for us (family of 9). I emailed to see if they can have some of our group meet up at MontSerrat for a day tour and they're insisting that we do a private tour and pay for the City portion that some of us aren't even taking. I was a bit turned off by that, so we declined. I know that they get great reviews, though. We'll see what we decide in the end.

We're also doing an apartment in Barcelona. I will check out the place you recommend and see if that's better than the other options.

I don't know anything about the prepaid Visas. We're exchanging cash ahead of time and will be bringing a few CCs that don't have foreign exchange fees. I may be opening up a Charles Schwab account though. Their free checking reimburses ATM fees worldwide and there is no foreign exchange fee. You do have to link it with a savings account I believe, which is a hassle. We're debating this, mainly dependent on how many tours we decide to book since those are all payable in cash.

Do be careful though, with pulling out cash at ATMS. Try to use the ATMS inside the banks. I've heard of cards getting skimmed and its such a pain to deal with that if your number gets stolen.

OH---one word of advice. If you bring a CC from home, make sure it has a chip on it. Most european CC scanners require the chip and you can't even buy train tickets from a machine unless your CC has a chip. We had 2 of our cards re-sent to us from Chase for this purpose. AND if you have a CC w/a chip....carry it in an RFID blocking pouch along w/your passport.

Nowadays, no one has to actually pick your pocket. They can just RFID scan your back wallet and steal your info.

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Old 01-13-2013, 10:48 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by lilpooh108 View Post
We were interested in Barcelona Day Tours for transfers and a tour but their prices were just too much for us (family of 9). I emailed to see if they can have some of our group meet up at MontSerrat for a day tour and they're insisting that we do a private tour and pay for the City portion that some of us aren't even taking. I was a bit turned off by that, so we declined. I know that they get great reviews, though. We'll see what we decide in the end.

We're also doing an apartment in Barcelona. I will check out the place you recommend and see if that's better than the other options.

I don't know anything about the prepaid Visas. We're exchanging cash ahead of time and will be bringing a few CCs that don't have foreign exchange fees. I may be opening up a Charles Schwab account though. Their free checking reimburses ATM fees worldwide and there is no foreign exchange fee. You do have to link it with a savings account I believe, which is a hassle. We're debating this, mainly dependent on how many tours we decide to book since those are all payable in cash.

Do be careful though, with pulling out cash at ATMS. Try to use the ATMS inside the banks. I've heard of cards getting skimmed and its such a pain to deal with that if your number gets stolen.

OH---one word of advice. If you bring a CC from home, make sure it has a chip on it. Most european CC scanners require the chip and you can't even buy train tickets from a machine unless your CC has a chip. We had 2 of our cards re-sent to us from Chase for this purpose. AND if you have a CC w/a chip....carry it in an RFID blocking pouch along w/your passport.

Nowadays, no one has to actually pick your pocket. They can just RFID scan your back wallet and steal your info.
Oh I saw one of these in our pharmacy and wondered what that's about.
I'll have to pick a few up.
Did Chase charge you for one of these special cards with a chip? They are the bank for our cc too. Is a chip needed for ATM machines too?

I'd like to get one of these too for carrying cash.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...A1JSZ235HIVP4X
Probably a good idea for dh & my dad to leave their regular wallet home and just get something small to keep in a deep front pocket.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:16 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by lilpooh108 View Post
Sorry, one last question about Wells Fargo. Which bank's CC did you use to buy the currency from Wells Fargo? Just curious since if I happen to have the same bank's CC then perhaps I won't be charged a cash advance fee as well.
I ordered $1000 worth of euros from Wells Fargo last spring, and I charged them to a Citibank credit card. I read on Wells Fargo's FAQ that most credit card companies treat it as a purchase, but Citibank processed the transaction as a cash advance! I was watching my credit card account online, and as soon as I saw that, I paid it off immediately to owe minimal interest. However, I was also charged a 5% transaction fee. If I were to get foreign currency again from Wells Fargo, I would use my debit card.

Most US credit cards don't have Chip + Pin. You're right that many automated machines in Europe won't accept our credit cards, but those with the magnetic strip can usually be swiped manually. In any event - it's always good to have cash.
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:24 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by ruadisneyfan2 View Post
Oh I saw one of these in our pharmacy and wondered what that's about.
I'll have to pick a few up.
Did Chase charge you for one of these special cards with a chip? They are the bank for our cc too. Is a chip needed for ATM machines too?

I'd like to get one of these too for carrying cash.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...A1JSZ235HIVP4X
Probably a good idea for dh & my dad to leave their regular wallet home and just get something small to keep in a deep front pocket.
I'm sure I wasn't charged to get a card with a chip. I know for sure that my Bank of America card already came with a chip, if that helps at all.

Here's a travel waist wallet with RFID blocking features:
http://www.magellans.com/rfid-safe-1...l-waist-wallet

Last edited by lilpooh108; 01-14-2013 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:26 AM   #36
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I ordered $1000 worth of euros from Wells Fargo last spring, and I charged them to a Citibank credit card. I read on Wells Fargo's FAQ that most credit card companies treat it as a purchase, but Citibank processed the transaction as a cash advance! I was watching my credit card account online, and as soon as I saw that, I paid it off immediately to owe minimal interest. However, I was also charged a 5% transaction fee. If I were to get foreign currency again from Wells Fargo, I would use my debit card.

Most US credit cards don't have Chip + Pin. You're right that many automated machines in Europe won't accept our credit cards, but those with the magnetic strip can usually be swiped manually. In any event - it's always good to have cash.
Thanks for the tip on Citibank. I was going to use my Citi Amex to buy the Euros in order to earn miles. I guess now I won't. You got charged a transaction fee by Citi for the cash advance too? Or by Wells Fargo for the purchase?
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:31 AM   #37
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How do you know if your card has the chip? Is it a visible symbol or something on the card?
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:12 AM   #38
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Thanks for the tip on Citibank. I was going to use my Citi Amex to buy the Euros in order to earn miles. I guess now I won't. You got charged a transaction fee by Citi for the cash advance too? Or by Wells Fargo for the purchase?
I think most credit cards charge a transaction fee for cash advances, and Citibank's was 5% - or about $50. That was in addition to the interest that Citibank charged immediately.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:28 AM   #39
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Best credit card is Capital One Venture, Visa. They charge no foreign transaction fees.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:33 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilpooh108 View Post
Sorry, one last question about Wells Fargo. Which bank's CC did you use to buy the currency from Wells Fargo? Just curious since if I happen to have the same bank's CC then perhaps I won't be charged a cash advance fee as well.

Thanks for all the advice. I like the FP analogy for the Tower of Pisa.

We're on the June 1 Med, with days in London & Barcelona prior to the cruise and a few days in Paris after (hopefully). Our flight home from CDG is booked on United miles so at least that is pretty flexible. We're still trying to figure out all the excursions for now to see how we want to plan out overall itinerary.

Have fun on your Athens cruise!
I don't honestly remember. It would have either been a US Bank Visa or a Capital One Venture Visa. Maybe Amex, but I doubt it.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:46 AM   #41
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I think most credit cards charge a transaction fee for cash advances, and Citibank's was 5% - or about $50. That was in addition to the interest that Citibank charged immediately.
Wow that is high, plus interest. That's too bad.

WDW Princess--yes you can physically see the chip on my cards. You'll most likely need these to do automated machine transactions if you don't feel like speaking to a teller.

Four swampers--thanks. I'll just use my debit card I guess.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:58 AM   #42
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Past overseas cruise we have exchanged $$ at the purser on the ship. You cannot use a credit card or charge to your room but I believe they take travelers checks. Their rate is good and at the end of the cruise or whenever you like they will exchange back any paper currency to the currency you used to get the Euros. We are on the 6/15 cruise and there is a meet for this group as well.
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:16 PM   #43
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ATMs & Phones

We just got back from Paris and had no trouble using our debit and credit cards (none of which had chips). Occasionally we had to swipe, but never did we have an issue where they didn't take our cards.

Another tip I can give is consider using your data plan instead of cell minutes. Or get a minimal number of minutes and spend more on data. There were 4 of us in Paris and 3 of us got data. We then used an app called Whats App to stay in contact. You can text through Whats App...and it goes over your data plan rather than voice or a special text plan. I'm pretty sure I didn't use any voice minutes. And bonus...you can upload photos to FB while you are gone if you want.
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:19 PM   #44
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Past overseas cruise we have exchanged $$ at the purser on the ship. You cannot use a credit card or charge to your room but I believe they take travelers checks. Their rate is good and at the end of the cruise or whenever you like they will exchange back any paper currency to the currency you used to get the Euros. We are on the 6/15 cruise and there is a meet for this group as well.
This is great. Was there a fee to change currency? Was the rate pretty good or no?
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:38 PM   #45
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Great info, but please let me make it very clear ... Europe is not the mugging capital of the world so please don't be overly worried about having things stolen.

It's the same in ALL big cities that have tourists .. new York, Orlando, London, LA ... All the same I'm afraid so just be careful, don't flash cash and diamond rings around (like you would!!!) and keep your bags with you.

We have lots of ATMs in Europe, but you may want to get some Euros beforehand, or change some on the ship .. I believe the rate is a fair one.

I think I've already mentioned the company we used in Italy, but it's worth putting it again so you can get quotes from them too ... Www.yourtourinitaly.com. I can't recommend them enough .. They organised a tour guide for us, advance tickets, all their drivers spoke perfect English, they were polite, good drivers, informative and just generally excellent!! The owner is called Aldo and its his sister who responds to the emails.... Not sure they'll remember me but we had 42 people on a Rome trip last year .. If you do email, tell them I sent you (maybe I'll get a free holiday to Italy)!!!

We're on the 4 night 6th August and the 7 night 10th August .. A little back to back in the Med!!!

Joa

ETA: we all use Whatsapp .. It's great! You can also get free pay as you go sim cards here .. If anyone would like me to look up more info about them for use in Europe, just pm me.
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