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jagsfan

Precruise Currency Exchange

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It’s been a while since I’ve gotten foreign money precruise. 

Has anyone recently bought pounds and/or euros?

I’n trying to benefit from your research. In the past, I’ve purchased through my bank, AAA, and foreign exchange companies without looking at cost. 

Now I’m trying to be a little more frugal since I’m changing more than usual. 

TIA

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Generally just get currency from a bank ATM when I arrive in the country.  If you feel the need to have some currency prior to your arrival then AAA or your bank is a reasonable source, but realize you are paying a premium either in exchange rate or fee.

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Posted (edited)

Seems ATM's are even more prevalent in some European countries than they are, here.  We get some of "thier" money upon arrival at the airport and then "as needed" while traveling.  We don't seem to need a lot, mostly for very small purchases and local market vendors,  as most places  like  stores,  restaurants and the like accept credit cards.   Even many metro/tram/trolleys accept CC's.

Edited by marco

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I went to Europe in November, and my bank was able to give me euros at no added cost.

 

Roz  

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3 minutes ago, marco said:

Seems ATM's are even more prevalent in some European countries than they are, here.  We get some of "thier" money upon arrival at the airport and then "as needed" while traveling.  We don't seem to need a lot, mostly for very small purchases and local market vendors,  as most places  like  stores,  restaurants and the like accept credit cards.   Even many metro/tram/trolleys accept CC's.

Another vote for ATMs (though watch out for "lookalike" exchange company machines). But never use a credit card in an ATM (interest rate starts immediately). We do pick up some local currencies from our home bank, which actually has very attractive exchange rates if you buy a total of $300+ USD worth across all countries you may visit.

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Since I’ll be arriving in various ports and immediately meeting tour guides, I prefer to have cash in hand rather than try to find an ATM and holding the group up.  

I was just wondering if anyone had found one precruise currency exchange method to be more advantageous than others. 

THanks for your comments, though. 

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13 minutes ago, jagsfan said:

Since I’ll be arriving in various ports and immediately meeting tour guides, I prefer to have cash in hand rather than try to find an ATM and holding the group up.  

I was just wondering if anyone had found one precruise currency exchange method to be more advantageous than others. 

THanks for your comments, though. 

See post number 6. In NorCal, check Mechanics Bank.

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40 minutes ago, jagsfan said:

Since I’ll be arriving in various ports and immediately meeting tour guides, I prefer to have cash in hand rather than try to find an ATM and holding the group up.  

I was just wondering if anyone had found one precruise currency exchange method to be more advantageous than others. 

THanks for your comments, though. 

See my post #5.

 

Roz

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Thanks, Roz. I read your post and promptly forgot it!

I’ll call my bank tomorrow. If I remember rightly, last time the rate was higher than what was in the internet. That was about four years s ago, though. 

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Roz may have the unique bank that is in business for altruism but in fact most banks that state they have no fee for foreign currency simply make thier profit by offering less optimal exchange rates.  If you do plan for currency exchange in the US look at both fees and exchange rates.  The impact of either is partly related to how much currency you want. On a small exchange a fee may be a big hit, less so on a bigger exchange where poor rates have greater impact.

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2 hours ago, Roz said:

I went to Europe in November, and my bank was able to give me euros at no added cost.

 

Roz  

 

What was the exchange rate???

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We travel Internationally on an extensive basis and always rely on ATMs for our cash.  That being said, Wells Fargo is one major bank who will handle foreign currency purchases, but I believe it must be ordered in advance.   Most of the foreign exchange deals we have seen (primarily in NYC) are not particular competitive rates.  It is not unusual to take at least a 10% hit (combining the exchange rate and any fees) when purchasing currency in the USA.  AAA used to have some of the worst rates, especially if you purchased pre-paid credit cards loaded with a foreign currency.  Perhaps Travelex is even worse, but we have never tried to deal with that outfit.

 

Hank

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Bank ATM’s generally provide the best exchange rates   - and a number of US banks  permit overseas draws without fee, and UBS even credits your A/C for whatever fee the local bank, whose ATM you use, might apply.   One snag: when we flew to London in September , we found that there were no bank ATM’s at Heathrow any more - only proprietary ones which apply higher fees and worse rates of exchange than bank  ones.

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We also just use our bank for convenience.  Have also used ATMs without any issues.   It is all good because we are not changing large amounts and the difference isn't significant.  I would say just stay away from the airport currency exchange places because their fees are kind of a rip off, IMO.  

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58 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

We travel Internationally on an extensive basis and always rely on ATMs for our cash.  That being said, Wells Fargo is one major bank who will handle foreign currency purchases, but I believe it must be ordered in advance.   Most of the foreign exchange deals we have seen (primarily in NYC) are not particular competitive rates.  It is not unusual to take at least a 10% hit (combining the exchange rate and any fees) when purchasing currency in the USA.  AAA used to have some of the worst rates, especially if you purchased pre-paid credit cards loaded with a foreign currency.  Perhaps Travelex is even worse, but we have never tried to deal with that outfit.

 

Hank

Yes to Wells Fargo as one of the US banks to consider for an initial stock of foreign cash. Decent rates and you can order many currencies at a local branch with delivery several days later.

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Wells Fargo marks up their currency by 5%  to 5.5% in my experience, the best rates I have found for buying foreign currency in the US. Many Wells Fargo branches have foreign currency on hand. https://www.wellsfargo.com/locator/#fl Call ahead to check availability of the currency you require. Foreign currency withdrawals from an overseas ATM are a better deal for me, my bank marks up the exchange rate by about 1% with no other fees.

 

Compare any price quotes with the interbank exchange rate as shown at oanda.com or similar sites and don't forget to include any fees. Buyer beware. I have seen foreign currency markups as high as 22%.

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I guess I'm going to have to roll up my sleeves and start actually comparing my bank against every other possibility. 

Like I said, ATMs won’t work because no time to find one on private excursions in the hinterlands!

I want to have the cash required for each tour divided into envelopes so I don’t have to worry.

Thanks, everybody for your comments. 

 

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We pick up small amounts of foreign currency for each port from our local bank, who usually have US $, and UKP in stock. Other currencies take about 1 week.

 

We do not pay exchange fees, but the cash rate is slightly worse than the non-cash rate, if getting money from an ATM. However, the amounts we get are small, so the convenience of not having to find a bank ATM  (we don't use 3rd party ones) during limited time in port is worth it for us. Most purchases we use Visa for the points. 

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10 hours ago, wheezedr said:

Generally just get currency from a bank ATM when I arrive in the country.  If you feel the need to have some currency prior to your arrival then AAA or your bank is a reasonable source, but realize you are paying a premium either in exchange rate or fee.

We do the same now, we use a debit card with no international fees so the only cost is the ATM fee ($2.50) and the banks currency conversion which averages around 1-1.5% from the daily rate.

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I prefer to arrive in the country with local currency and not depend on an ATM particularly if arriving at night or on  weekend.  Therefore, I use a local currency exchange company.  After comparing their rates with a foreign ATM the difference once bank fees are included is a wash.

 

If I need more cash during the trip I will use a local ATM however I have found in two places (Namibia, French Polynesia) that my ATM card didn't work and had to take a cash advance on my credit card.   

 

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16 hours ago, CruiserBruce said:

 

What was the exchange rate???

Not sure how to calculate the exchange rate.  I got 200 euros and the teller took $247.42 out of my acct.  I wanted euros in hand when I got off the plane, and also didn't want to have to order the euros.  The bank teller just went back in the vault and got them for me right there.  Did I make a stupid mistake?  

 

Roz

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16 hours ago, wheezedr said:

Roz may have the unique bank that is in business for altruism but in fact most banks that state they have no fee for foreign currency simply make thier profit by offering less optimal exchange rates.  If you do plan for currency exchange in the US look at both fees and exchange rates.  The impact of either is partly related to how much currency you want. On a small exchange a fee may be a big hit, less so on a bigger exchange where poor rates have greater impact.

My bank is a profit making business, but they do offer additional services with certain types of account (function of bank balance :classic_rolleyes:).  When I read the OP's post, I thought they were asking about convenience, not exchange rates.  Sorry if I mis-read the post or have provided misleading or erroneous information.

 

Roz

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12 minutes ago, Roz said:

Not sure how to calculate the exchange rate.  I got 200 euros and the teller took $247.42 out of my acct.  I wanted euros in hand when I got off the plane, and also didn't want to have to order the euros.  The bank teller just went back in the vault and got them for me right there.  Did I make a stupid mistake?  

 

Roz

 

So you paid about 1.23 per euro. That rate hasn't moved much in the last few months, so you paid about 6-7%. 

 

I am always careful when someone says "they didn't charge any fees". No fees were charged...they made their profit on the mediocre exchange rate. You can definitely do better than 6%.

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8 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

 

So you paid about 1.23 per euro. That rate hasn't moved much in the last few months, so you paid about 6-7%. 

 

I am always careful when someone says "they didn't charge any fees". No fees were charged...they made their profit on the mediocre exchange rate. You can definitely do better than 6%.

I assumed they made their profit on the exchange rate.  Where can I do better than 6%?

 

Roz

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