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Money Overseas - ATM, Trav Cheques or VISA

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Chicken

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beardoc said:
Even if you have a Westpac account and use it to withdraw money from a Bank of America ATM, the Bank of America ATM will charge you a "non-bank-of-America" surcharge, won't it?
No there is no fee.

I have used my Bank of America ATM card in Westpac ATMs, and never charged any fee. On the otherhand, I get charged ATM fee if I use any other ATM
 

JohnK

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If anyone is in Europe now or has been recently what is the exchange rate for AUD-EUR? Do they charge any commissions? Would going to a bank branch be better than an exchange booth?

I will be going in August/September but need to compare the exchange rate offered in Europe vs the exchange rate offered in Australia. I think my best bet would be to buy the Euros in Australia.

I will also need small amounts of US$, Danish Kroner, Swedish Kroner, Polish Zlotych, Czech Koruny, Slovak Koruny, Hungarian Forint and Swiss Francs but I think it would be best to exchange these locally using either AUD or EUR.
 

Soundguy

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Messages
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John, I can't comment on Europe but I think your idea of exchanging notes may be better than using ATM's for smaller amounts.

I say this having just returned from Singapore where I withdrew S$200 from an ATM at the airport which landed me a total of A$8.97 in fees on my Westpac handycard. Well I guess it was handy for the banks anyway.....
 

JohnK

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Soundguy said:
John, I can't comment on Europe but I think your idea of exchanging notes may be better than using ATM's for smaller amounts.
ATM will only be used as a last resort.

Soundguy said:
I say this having just returned from Singapore where I withdrew S$200 from an ATM at the airport which landed me a total of A$8.97 in fees on my Westpac handycard. Well I guess it was handy for the banks anyway.....
I remember spending a lot on commissions and poor exchange rates when I was last in Europe in 1994. Carrying cash around may not be as secure as using a card but it may end up being cheaper if you look at the fees charged by banks.
 

Kiwi Flyer

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JohnK said:
If anyone is in Europe now or has been recently what is the exchange rate for AUD-EUR? Do they charge any commissions? Would going to a bank branch be better than an exchange booth?

I will be going in August/September but need to compare the exchange rate offered in Europe vs the exchange rate offered in Australia. I think my best bet would be to buy the Euros in Australia.

I will also need small amounts of US$, Danish Kroner, Swedish Kroner, Polish Zlotych, Czech Koruny, Slovak Koruny, Hungarian Forint and Swiss Francs but I think it would be best to exchange these locally using either AUD or EUR.
That is an impossible question to answer. Some banks offer very competitive rates and no/low fee depending on your bank and any relationship with the bank used overseas. Eg global alliance charges lower fees for customers of member banks.

In some countries, banks run by "cooperatives" (kinda like building societies in Australia & NZ) have extremely competitive rates. But not so in other countries.

If you can get a good deal with your own bank on fees for changing money (eg some waive fees for their own gold (or better) cardholders), then that might be a good idea. In general I've found exchange rate spreads are better in europe than in NZ.

Not sure how that compares to Australia.

I would not change AUD into local currencies while in Europe. AUD is a minor currency (on world scale) and will get a poor exchange rate. AUD travellers cheques will not be widely accepted.

What I usually do is change the Euros I want (some, but not too much since for my patterns ATMs usually provide the best deal plus peace of mind not carrying too much cash - downside is risk of card being swallowed by a broken machine). Then change euros into the other currencies as needed, any excess being converted into the next country's currency (if adjacent/high volume travellers).

I probably have small amounts of most of the currencies listed, which I could give you, but likely not enough to be of use. I'll have to check.
 

Kiwi Flyer

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JohnK said:
ATM will only be used as a last resort.
Why? Generally they offer good rates (low spread). As long as not using them for tiny withdrawals where fees become significant, they are okay in my experience.
 

NM

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JohnK said:
ATM will only be used as a last resort.
ATM is normally my first option as I find them most convenient and best exchange rate/fee option.
 

JohnK

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Kiwi Flyer said:
That is an impossible question to answer.
Why is it an impossible question to answer?

If anyone is in Europe now or has been recently what is the exchange rate for AUD-EUR?
This is a very simple request.

Do they charge any commissions?
This is a very simple request.

Would going to a bank branch be better than an exchange booth?
If I am in Europe and I walk into a bank branch would it give a better exchange rate than the exchange booths. In New Zealand recently I went to the National Bank and got better exchange rate than exchange booths and paid no commission!

I will be going in August/September but need to compare the exchange rate offered in Europe vs the exchange rate offered in Australia. I think my best bet would be to buy the Euros in Australia.
I will be making the comparison. No need for the person answering the above questions to answer this one.

I will also need small amounts of US$, Danish Kroner, Swedish Kroner, Polish Zlotych, Czech Koruny, Slovak Koruny, Hungarian Forint and Swiss Francs but I think it would be best to exchange these locally using either AUD or EUR.
If anyone has any recent tips on the local exchange rates I would appreciate it.

As for using ATMs, forget it! I proved it in Thailand using CBA Visa, CBA Mastercard and Citibank Redicredit. Cash exchange is by far the better option and I am in control. Not a bank!
 
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Kiwi Flyer

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JohnK said:
Why is it an impossible question to answer?
It is impossible because there are too many answers. I bet you there are some that are terrible and others that are great. At the same bank/exchange bureau there may be some circumstances where commission charged and others where not. Of course many places that are commission free have service charges, or terrible exchange rates.

Depending on which are mentioned in the answers you could get a totally misleading impression and have no easy way of knowing which end of the spectrum (or middle) applies.

Further the economics vary depending on circumstances. If you insist on only ever changing $5 at a time, then yes ATMs will be terrible value (but so will all the banks/exchange bureau except those with no minimum fees). You haven't given us your circumstances - amounts, frequency, places and hours wanting to change, what bank you use in Australia, what type of card do you have, etc.

I've given my own experience, which is that ATMs are usually best (especially so in Europe). Up to you to ignore it or not.
 

JohnK

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So far the best option for buying foreign exchange in Australia appears to be St George. A$1,000 converts to
  • 593.90 Euro with St George
  • 587.00 Euro with CBA
  • 586.60 Euro with Westpac
  • 581.43 Euro with ANZ
  • 570.00 Euro with Travelex
 

kpc

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John,
Why don't you get a Wizard Master Card? See this thread:
http://www.frequentflyer.com.au/community/general-credit-card-discussion/wizard-mastercard-cash-advances-while-6960.html

I have now used this card in NZ, Malaysia, Singapore, Germany, Austria and Czech Republic to obtain local currency. I put money in prior to going OS, and use it like a debit card whilst overseas. It gives excellent exchange rates with no fees....much better than the rates you are getting above! As long as the ATM has the Master Card logo, I have had no trouble so far:p...

Edit: my brother has been travelling all over Europe in the last 7 weeks, and has been using this card without any problems that I'm aware of!
 
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JohnK

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kpc said:
John,
Why don't you get a Wizard Master Card?
Thanks Kevin, but I am trying to avoid using credit cards. I don't like using credit cards. I am going to risk carrying cash around with me again. Easier to manage and I know exactly what is happening at all times. With cards you have no idea what has been charged until you see the statement.

I know carrying cash is not very secure but if they can steal cash from me then they can just as easily steal cards. I have also heard too many stories of ATMs taking cards, banks putting a temporary block on cards even though you have told them you are going overseas etc.

Plus isn't the Wizard card a GE product? I have vowed never again even if it means it will save me some money on this trip.
 

Tiki

Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2004
Messages
479
JohnK said:
So far the best option for buying foreign exchange in Australia appears to be St George. A$1,000 converts to
  • 593.90 Euro with St George
  • 587.00 Euro with CBA
  • 586.60 Euro with Westpac
  • 581.43 Euro with ANZ
  • 570.00 Euro with Travelex
Is this because the St George has a lower commission across the board? I need some cash USD for Easter Island as I heard they don't change AUD and the ATM there is a bit dodgy. Also in PPT the ATMs don't take non-French ATM cards but they will at least change cash AUD.

I will use ATMs in Peru, Brazil, US, UK and Japan for convenience and better rates.
 

Kiwi Flyer

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5,453
Tiki said:
Also in PPT the ATMs don't take non-French ATM cards but they will at least change cash AUD.
I've used ATMs in PPT and my card isnt French. What is supposed to be the problem?
 

JohnK

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Mar 22, 2005
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Tiki said:
Is this because the St George has a lower commission across the board?
When researching each of the currency exchange calculators used for my comparison above St George was the only bank that did not have a commission associated with the transaction.
 

tinky

Intern
Joined
Aug 2, 2006
Messages
76
JohnK said:
When researching each of the currency exchange calculators used for my comparison above St George was the only bank that did not have a commission associated with the transaction.
I've always wondered about this, just because they don't charge commission it doesn't necessarily mean you will get the most for your money does it?

I've seen places where they don't charge commission but their exchange rate maybe be a few cents higher than places that do hence your final currency value may not be very different.

I haven't read through this whole thread but if you are after frequent flyer points, travelex gives you points for currency conversions (even though I have found them to not offer exchange rates as high as some other organisations). You need to work out if you will be better off or not using them.
 

JohnK

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Mar 22, 2005
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tinky said:
I've always wondered about this, just because they don't charge commission it doesn't necessarily mean you will get the most for your money does it?

I've seen places where they don't charge commission but their exchange rate maybe be a few cents higher than places that do hence your final currency value may not be very different.
I quoted final currency value, including any commissions, from each of the foreign exchange calculators. So in my situation St George appears to give the best value foreign currency for my money.

tinky said:
I haven't read through this whole thread but if you are after frequent flyer points, travelex gives you points for currency conversions (even though I have found them to not offer exchange rates as high as some other organisations). You need to work out if you will be better off or not using them.
Travelex offers FF points but poor exchange rates. I have done research on exchange rates in bank branches overseas, Greece to be exact, and it appears to be even better than what St George offers.

Everyones needs are different and I don't want to use ATMs but trying to maximise the value I can get out of foreign exchange using cash. I know what it was like 13 years ago but things have changed since then. After this trip I will know exactly what I need to do next time around.
 

simongr

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Jul 10, 2006
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I guess I have more money than sense - I basically use ATMs for the convenience - I estimate how much I will need (cabs etc - most everything else goes on corp amex or personal amex). The effort of pre-converting cash and carying it around is a hassle for me.

I now have about 6-7 little bags of cash sat in the house that I pick up before each trip (I am thinking about taking all with me next time in case I get diverted mid route) - probably a few hundred A$ equivalent.

Even the personal expenditure when travelling is done this way. ALthough there are fees and charges for me the marginal cost is small compared to how much overall I spending there and how much I save (imagine a full week without having to pay for my own beer for a start). Also psychologically if I pay $4 for an atm fee - that's not much given on the same trip I am earning points for a flight ;)
 
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