How to manage currency in Europe

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by ravith, Sep 20, 2007.

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  1. ravith

    ravith Junior Member

    Sep 5, 2007
    11
    0
    Will be in Europe (mainly germany, some time in France, may be Italy and around) for a month.

    My first time.

    I wonder what is the best way to take money/ and to spend.
    Will they accept credit card from Australia (Virgin Mastercard)? And if they do, what will be the conversion rate (will they reap off?)
    I also heard the ATM accepts our ATM card - but there may be hefty fee.
    Traveller's cheque? But if I have to book flights online they won't help.
    I will take some Euro cash and hopefully Oz$ stays healthy for at least 2 weeks.

    Those who travel frequently, or anyone, plz help!
     

  2. Travel Guru

    Travel Guru Established Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    2,002
    179
    Gold Coast, Australia
    I stopped using travellers cheques a couple of years ago, too expensive and too inconvenient.

    Nowadays I use a mix of Visa card for cash advances and purchases and Travelex Cash Passport as a backup.

    ATM's are readily available in France and Italy so its often easier to pull money out of a wall than to find a money exchange that doesn't want to rip you off on the rate.

    TG
     
  3. ANstar

    ANstar Active Member

    Sep 22, 2006
    679
    2
    Sydney
    I always use my credit card for msot purchases and just use an ATM when I am over there. I find the charges/rates more competitive than most travelx type places
     
  4. Commuter

    Commuter Active Member

    Jun 14, 2006
    793
    3
    I haven't used any traveller's cheque for about 10 years! I just use my card for practically everything, although I do carry some Australian Dollars in cash in case I need to exchange it into local currency.
     
  5. Fifa

    Fifa Established Member

    Sep 17, 2006
    1,920
    779
    NSW
    Last year we travelled in Germany, Poland and Italy and I used my Westpac eftpos card as the lady who signed us up at our local branch told us there were no fees to withdraw cash at their partner bank ie. Deutschebank. However, when we returned home and looked at our statement we found we had been duped! There was no ATM withdrawal fee but there was a conversion fee!!!

    Thanks to these boards, we have obtained Wizard MasterCards and have already used them several times to pay for airfares, hotels and pay a cruise balance in the US. No fees and the exchange rate was spot on for the day. We will be loading our card up with cash before we go and will have no hesitation in using the card when we go to the US and Europe in two months.

    A big thankyou to everyone on these boards and to Wizard. :D :D :D
     
  6. clifford

    clifford Established Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    1,762
    243
    Canberra / London
    That's an interesting comment.

    Too expensive? - I get mine commission free from CBA (gold Visa card).

    Too inconvenient? - just go into a nominated bank and get your cash commission free too. Also, in the USA, they can be used virtually as cash, and you will get cash back as change...

    (Use your CC's for purchases by all means, but don't forget the conversion fees and interest charges).

    :)
     
  7. Travel Guru

    Travel Guru Established Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    2,002
    179
    Gold Coast, Australia

    When I say expensive I was more referring to the ridiculous exchange rates offered by hotels and bureau's in Europe.
    US is a different story where I agree TC are still quite easy to use, but when I factor the the exchange rip off in Europe, its just not worth it.

    I've been to Europe twice so far this year with one more trip planned and cards have proven alot more convenient in France, Italy, Turkey, Germany, UK & Ireland.
    I don't use Travelex Cash Passport alot, but keep it more as a backup for worse case scenario.

    TG
     
  8. littl_flier

    littl_flier Active Member

    May 1, 2007
    898
    0
    Brisbane
    Got a quote for Traveller's Cheques today and at least at CBA, the commission for TC's are significantly higher than Cash.

    I would recommend taking enough cash for your first couple of days and then relying on your Credit Cards and/or a Cash Passport. Avoid cash advances and ATM withdrawls as these attract higher fees than the cash passport. The cash passport also gives you the benefit of locking in a FX rate before you travel. France widely accepts all Credit Cards- including AMEX but don't be surprised when everyone else uses a Chip Credit Card. I have heard that in some places if you don't have a Chip Credit Card then you will not be served. I am unsure of the truth of this however.
     
  9. lovetravellingoz

    lovetravellingoz Senior Member

    Jul 13, 2006
    5,579
    1,486
    MEL
    Sign up fora Wizard Mastercard..

    It is free per year...and very importantly thetre is no fee per withdrawl not matter which public ATM you use....irrespective of which Bank owns it..

    Prepay same $$$$$$ into it to avoid paying interest.

    Have another credit card for actual credit purchases.
     
  10. HardieBoys

    HardieBoys Member

    Sep 28, 2003
    411
    2
    I'm another Westpac customer who discovered that whilst there's no 'foreign ATM' fee, there is a currency conversion fee to use overseas ATMs.

    That said, the conversion fee is actually pretty low. On $US 200, the conversion fee is $AUD 2.44, which I think isn't too bad.

    This is the blurb from the Westpac website:

    Country MasterCard/Cirrus ATM network

    France BNP Paribas
    Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland Deutsche Bank
    UK* , Africa* , Spain, France, Portugal and Gibraltar Barclays Bank
    USA Bank of America
    Canada, The Caribbean, Mexico, Chile ScotiaBank


    Not sure about Germany as not been there for a while, but in Paris, BNP Paribas are very common.

    One thing about loading up credit cards prior to travelling overseas is that if you lose them or they are scammed, then the excess cash that has been put on them may not be covered by the card company or your travel insurance: you need to check.

    I'm not sure if other Australian banks have networked agreements, but it would be worth seeing if whomever you bank with has cheaper rates with certain foreign banks.
     
  11. littl_flier

    littl_flier Active Member

    May 1, 2007
    898
    0
    Brisbane
    Also, just check with the bank about putting extra cash onto the card. I was told by CBA (my Mastercard) that if I have extra cash loaded onto the card, this may trigger the computer to suspect fraud and cancel my card. Whilst I think I may have been misinformed, it wouldn't hurt to check before you withdraw the cash (because a cancelled card in a foriegn country wouldn't be much fun). A simple phone call to the bank should clarify this.
     
  12. HardieBoys

    HardieBoys Member

    Sep 28, 2003
    411
    2
    That's a good suggestion. I've had my card suspended whilst overseas, which was mysterious and annoying. No phone call either from my credit card provider. Despite having been to that particular destination at least 10 times in the past 2 years, the company said that it was suspended based on the destination, not my history there. I pointed out that I'd been in the same city a month before.

    Since then, I've called the company before I travel, to let them know my itinerary. It's been fine since then. Actually, that reminds me, I should call them now...
     
  13. ravith

    ravith Junior Member

    Sep 5, 2007
    11
    0
    Thank you all!
    I am much better informed now!
     
  14. mbeder

    mbeder Member

    Jul 3, 2002
    205
    19
    Sydney
    I echo the endorsements for the Wizard MasterCard...also, in case it hasn't been mentioned before, you should carry a spare CC in case the cancellation things happens.
    I also find that carrying some emergency US$ can be worthwhile, even when travelling in the EU.
     
  15. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

    Mar 22, 2005
    40,169
    8,658
    BNE, SYD and CNX
    On my recent 5 week trip through the USA and Europe I used a Citibank readicredit card to withdraw cash from ATMs. There are no ATM fees but they do charge a foreign currency transaction fee. Overall the exchange rate is much better than what you will get at banks, cambios or other currency exchange places.
     
  16. serfty

    Moderator

    Nov 16, 2004
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    Yep, was 'falconed' myself last October in HKG. It was caused by a 'suspicious transaction' when buying an Octopus card from the HKG Airport Express station. :-|

    The financial institution left 3 messages on my home 'phone about this. Fat lot of good that did! :rolleyes:
     
  17. straitman

    Moderator

    Apr 27, 2003
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    I've also had the same occur. CBA stopped/blocked my CC when in the USA earlier this year even after I'd advised them where I'd be. They also left messages on my home phone :evil::evil:

    Had to email my daughter who rang our local manager (who we know) to sort it out :!:
     
  18. serfty

    Moderator

    Nov 16, 2004
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    I was only away for 5 days; the card in question was a 'plan c' card anyway so no real issue./

    I would have been an absolute PITA if I had not had other options.
     
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