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Old 22 Feb 2014
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Getting foreign currency

In June/July I'll be riding from Calais up to and around the Baltic taking in eleven countries and am wondering how best to manage my money. Some of those countries - France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Finland use euros but the remainder have their own currency. Should I just use my Visa Debit card to get cash from ATMs or is there a better card? I have a Thompson's Pre-Paid Currency Card but I had to load that card up in October with a few hundred £s worth of Euros. Are their better/cheaper cards?
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Old 23 Feb 2014
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Always use major bank ATM's, they're much cheaper and safer to use. I get enough out to last me a week. I always have 2 cards one stashed along with some emergency cash. Never use your card elsewhere, pay cash as often as possible, 43 countries visited so far, not 1 issue.

Well once in Bali, I tried a money changer on the street because of the good rate, he short changed me! I picked up the mistake and got my money back then sat there for the next 45 minutes and watched him do it over and over again, the hand is definitely quicker than the eye!
I spent all my money on Bikes n Beer. The rest I just wasted.
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Old 23 Feb 2014
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Location: Ireland & France
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Good advice from Drwnite. We did similar in 2011, only with us it was slightly simplified by having a Euro account in France, so Euros were not an issue. For the rest, we took a mix of Euro and US Dollar cash and never used a cash machine at all for the two or three weeks we spent in 'Eastern Europe' and Russia. We paid cash for pretty much everything (though I'm not sure about our Moscow hotel). Obviously, we ended up travelling with quite a large amount of cash, so we split it up and kept it in separate places (always some of it on us in a money belt, some in a wallet and some in our luggage).

If you do use an ATM, you may find your bank hit you for transaction fee as well as a currency conversion fee. Can quickly add up.
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Old 23 Feb 2014
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Originally Posted by mrsroynie View Post
If you do use an ATM, you may find your bank hit you for transaction fee as well as a currency conversion fee. Can quickly add up.
Not only 'your bank' but the atm machines bank can charge a fee too.

the fees can be split into two different calculations;

A percentage of the transaction - the more you get out the more you pay.


A fixed fee. Does not change with the amount of money you get out - so for this type of fee your best off making a larger withdraw.

You need to find out what your bank/s charge and how they charge it. Best to have at least two different banks .. if one puts a hold on your transactions that gives you another source while you get the first one working again.

You'll not have much control of what ATM you use. You can ask the locals .. but when needs must.
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Old 24 Feb 2014
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Hi Paul:

I take a two-pronged approach to money management and currency conversion when I am abroad.

I use a domestic (in my case, Canadian) credit card as my primary method of payment for fuel, hotels, and restaurant meals. The credit card I have charges me interbank rate plus 1% for currency conversions. That is - in my opinion, anyway - about as good as you can get. Foreign currency conversions that are 'paper' or 'electronic', rather than cash (bank notes) generally cost less than buying bank notes and using bank notes, hence my general preference to use a credit card rather than cash when possible.

To obtain local cash for miscellaneous expenses , I use a bank ATM card (most definitely not a credit card) to withdraw local cash from an ATM. My experience has been that most foreign ATMs impose a fixed transaction fee of a dollar or two, rather than a percentage fee, so within reason, I try to minimize the number of times I withdraw cash.

If will not have any use for any given country's local currency after leaving that country, I will use up any leftover local cash paying the hotel bill for the last night in that country, or buying fuel the last day I am in that country.

The above strategies have worked well for me both personally (when riding the bike) and professionally (when delivering aircraft... I was in 52 different countries last year). A little bit of research and comparison shopping will be needed to find a credit card in your home country that offers the most competitive cost on currency conversions. Some of the "free" credit cards offered by banks charge 1.5% or even 2% commission on currency conversion, and on top of that, offer a poor rate. Other cards (notably American Express) charge a small annual fee, but only charge 1% for conversions and offer a very competitive rate. Then again, if you find a credit card that charges 1.5% on currency conversion, but gives you back 1% each year of your annual purchases as a refund, well, that nets out to only 0.5% on currency conversions, which is not bad at all.

As for the ATM card one uses at the cash machine - do some research at the bank and find out what they charge as a commission on ATM withdrawals in other countries. Don't accept your bank charging you a rate greater than 1%.

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Old 24 Feb 2014
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Prepaid credit cards: best offers - Money Saving Expert

I used Caxton FX in Western Europe, Turkey, the stans, India, Nepal, worked fine but no customer service evenings and weekends- a pain when you need to get cash out in a hurry.
'Life begins at the end of your comfort zone'-
http://fernsforays.com/ UK to Asia on a DRZ400 2012-2013
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Old 24 Feb 2014
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Have a look if in your country are creditcards available -who offers to optain cash at the ATM worldwide without any fee to the daily exchange rate.

Unfortunatelly not every country have these credit cards. In germany the DKB offer these. In Switzerland there is no such offer, but you can get one of these german dkb cards....

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Old 25 Feb 2014
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Thank you so much for the useful advice. I must say I don't have a clue about charges or percentages, etc, nor even my Thomson Travel Money Card which I used last year firstly in Spain then in Belgium/Holland. Today I discovered how to check the remaining balance on it online and have €147 left on it from October. This card charges only £1.50 per ATM withdrawal, which doesn't seem bad at all, but only provides euros. So I think I will stick with this and check up that my Santander Visa Debit/Credit cards don't charge too much, and use the Direct Debit Card to get currency from ATMs in non-Euro countries. Unless this is extortionate and then I'll be back to look at the earlier recommendations.
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