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Currency Exchange & Spending on Your European Vacation

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You probably won’t want to carry a lot of cash with you when you set off for your vacation in Europe because of the risk of loss or theft.  However, it’s a good idea to have some notes with you when you arrive at your destination just in case you need to buy something at the airport or have an emergency need for cash before you can get to a bank. 

You’ll probably see some currency exchange kiosks or shops at the airport when you arrive.  However, these places tend to offer the worse exchange rates, so it’s much better to buy your foreign currency before you leave the US.  Whether you need euros or pound sterling, you should order the currency at least 3-4 weeks before your departure.  Most US banks will be able to supply you with the currency you need especially if you have a checking or savings account with them, and some allow you to order online.  You should always check that they offer a competitive exchange rate and also what kind of charges you have to pay.  The fees might depend on whether you pick up the currency in person, or whether you have it delivered. 

Another way to purchase foreign currency is to buy it from online currency exchange marketplaces.  These often offer extremely reasonable exchange rates, but you must check all associated charges and make sure you order the currency in plenty of time.

Whilst on vacation, you could use your debit or credit card to fund larger purchases or to make withdrawals from local ATMs.  Before leaving home, you should notify your bank that you’ll be travelling.  In that way, you’ll be sure that the card works in a foreign country. 

You should also ask about the fees for using debit or credit cards outside the USA.  Apart from being charged by the foreign bank for the use of their ATM, you might also have to pay a currency conversion fee to your American bank and/or a transaction fee.  Charges vary from bank to bank, and could be a percentage of theamount withdrawn or a set amount for every transaction carried out abroad. 

You won’t find any difficulties in locating an ATM in most European towns and cities.  However, it’s much better to use a machine which is linked to a bank which are often located within or near local branches.  The logos on the sides of the machine will reassure you that the banking network works in cooperation with your own bank.  Stand-alone ATMs are often run by independent operators in major tourist resorts and have the poorest dollar exchange rate and even larger fees.

Even if you have a budget in place, holidays are often the time when we spoil ourselves and spend without thinking.  For those who have an urgent need of money, a direct lender like Cashfloat can give you money on demand with a fast and easy online application.