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Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: john-o
Date: May 19, 2009 11:52AM
My daughter is going on a high school senior trip to italy in about ten days. The teacher in charge says she has to have "$100-125" in Euros in hand before leaving. I'm having a heck of a time finding a reasonable way to get them... We live in the boonies, and our local bank told us to submit a group order and they would waive the fees, but some of the group did that without notifying the rest of us. I just found a AAA-related site that will sell them, but they require a minimum of $200 worth. I guess that's just what I should do, knowing they'll get used eventually, right?

Any other suggestions??
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: freeradical
Date: May 19, 2009 11:58AM
There will be a bank at the airport she lands at in Italy where she can get euros. The "must have euros in hand" is kind of weird.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: trisho.
Date: May 19, 2009 11:58AM
Wow, that's really hard. I was about to say "use an ATM in the European airport" but that may not be possible in her case because of time constraints by the teacher. One possibility is if you're close to the airport and if it's international is to go on a Saturday and use one of the exchange booths there. Don't worry, if the airport itself is worth its salt, it should have exchange booths both before and after security. If anything, there might be one in the arrivals section of the airport.

Where exactly are you? If you're near a metro area, you may not have to sweat it as much as you think.

EDIT: Also, would it be possible for her to just share Euros with someone else who already has them and then get them when she arrives? Ask another set of parents who got excess money to share possibly. I understand the teacher's point a bit because in case of an emergency, she wants the kids to have the money in hand for a cab, etc. But still, it's really easy to get money when you're in the airport in Europe.



trisho.
----------------
Official Card-Carrying Mother Earthin' Sl*t.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/19/2009 12:29PM by trisho..
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: john-o
Date: May 19, 2009 12:07PM
I agree! The whole thing is weird...

We're not near a metro area at all. Denver is 300 miles away.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: davester
Date: May 19, 2009 12:12PM
Doesn't your bank have any euros? Even if not, they should be able to tell you which branch does. Have you checked the local yellow pages for foreign currency exchanges (e.g. Travelex)? Are you close to an international airport?...they may have exchanges there. Anyway, the best way (most convenient and cheapest) to get euros is almost always through ATM machines in the country you're going to. Be sure to tell your bank to clear the ATM card for foreign use before she goes...some of them aren't automatically set up that way. Also, check to see what your bank ATM exchange rate is. Many of them are cheap, but some of them tack on a lot of extra charges...to the point of it being worth it to open an account at a different bank if necessary.

Also, have you asked the other parents or trip leaders?



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/19/2009 12:13PM by davester.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: john-o
Date: May 19, 2009 12:16PM
Just got off the phone with the teacher who's overseeing the trip. She agreed to let her just get them at an ATM once she's in Italy. Phew, one less thing to worry about this week!

My second daughter, graduating (Valedictorian, no less) and leaving us as empty-nesters... Why do I feel so old?!?

old fogey smiley
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: AAA
Date: May 19, 2009 12:17PM
Rick Steves says to get off plane, use ATM.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: MGS_forgot_password
Date: May 19, 2009 12:28PM
Just check with your bank and make sure you can use your ATM card overseas.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: billb
Date: May 19, 2009 12:29PM
The teacher doesn't want to get into a borrowing money from the chaperone situation.
ATM when stepping off the plane. and confirm the card will work and knowing any daily limits ahead of time wouldn't hurt.
I usually have $300-$500 cash dollars just in case money carried on my person, NOT in any bags.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: john-o
Date: May 19, 2009 12:37PM
Quote
billb
The teacher doesn't want to get into a borrowing money from the chaperone situation.

We talked about that. There's a good friend going along that can help with any needs before she finds an ATM...

Quote

ATM when stepping off the plane. and confirm the card will work and knowing any daily limits ahead of time wouldn't hurt.

Check...

Quote

I usually have $300-$500 cash dollars just in case money carried on my person, NOT in any bags.

That's a lot! For my daughter, I thought I'd send her with a couple hundred...

Thanks for the tips everyone!!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/19/2009 12:38PM by john-o.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: vicrock
Date: May 19, 2009 12:59PM
All of the international airports have money changing booths - if the kids all give a designated adult the cash then it could all be changed at the airport and handed out.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: mattkime
Date: May 19, 2009 01:06PM
she should expect to need to call the the 1-800 number on the back of the card before they'll let her make a withdraw. i tried calling my credit cards before traveling, gave them dates, but they still cut me off when i got over there.



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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: john-o
Date: May 19, 2009 01:11PM
That's a good tip matt!
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: Michael
Date: May 19, 2009 01:20PM
We found that the money changing booths are pretty expensive compared to ATM cards. I'd set her up with an account that is at a bank different from yours in case there is a problem. If it's not too late, I'd also get her a Capital One credit card to be used for as many purchases as possible. As of last summer, they had the cheapest cost for purchasing overseas.

I'd also send her with a second ATM card from a different account and a second credit card and ask her to keep them separate from her primary ones, just in case there is a loss of the primary ones. There are plenty of pickpockets in Italy. A friends daughter's wallet was taken from her purse on an outing in Rome last year--she said it was there one minute and gone the next and she has no idea how it occurred. Fortunately, she had a second credit card in her front pocket and so was ok with the rest of her trip.

I second mattkime's suggestion about a call. The Capital One card was preapproved for overseas travel and wasn't a problem; the ATM was preapproved but still required a phone call once there to reapprove it. Fortunately it wasn't eaten by a machine.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: 3d
Date: May 19, 2009 01:26PM
How about eBay? smiling smiley
[cgi.ebay.com]

Having leftover Euros after a trip is a common occurance. I have about 50-60 Euros in a drawer somewhere after my last trip. I didn't want to lose money with a transaction fee, so i kept it.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: Racer X
Date: May 19, 2009 01:33PM
ATM debit card is the cheapest option. 1% foreign usually. Just call the card and give them travel dates and location.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: May 19, 2009 01:41PM
She's being paranoid. Like everybody else says, just hit the first available ATM.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: zeppo2
Date: May 19, 2009 01:51PM
I always travel with two ATMS, just in case. One is a fake visa ATM, the other a credit union ATM card that I got just for travel in Europe because it doesn't charge large fees for foreign currency. Be sure to check what fees your bank charges, and be willing to sign up for a credit union account just for this trip if the fees are high. You could actually impose a budget by putting the amount you want her to spend in a new credit union account, and tell her your regular ATM is just backup.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: Mike Johnson
Date: May 19, 2009 01:54PM
Quote
mattkime
i tried calling my credit cards before traveling, gave them dates, but they still cut me off when i got over there.

The exact thing happened to me just last year, with two different banks. It wasn't the first time, either.

A couple of tips:
"Get off the plane, use an ATM" is my strategy but I've been at Charles de Gaulle when all ATMs were out of service, and the nearest open exchange booth was a tram ride away. It took twenty minutes to get there and I spent about an hour in line. Ahhh, Paris.

Exchange windows charge lousy rates. But find out in advance how much your bank is going to charge you for a foreign transaction. They're sneaky about it, may even charge you multiple fees. (This is our exchange rate. Oh, and there's a small 1% fee per transaction. Oh, and there's also a $6 fee per foreign transaction.)

Many if not most credit cards now charge a foreign transaction fee if you're doing business with a company based in another country even if you do business in US Dollars. That's a new thing, and it's awful.

There are still ATMS in Europe that will choke if your PIN is more than 4 characters. (There are still ATMS in Europe that are hooked up to a 2400 baud modem, btw.)

Talk to all your banks & credit card companies before you go. Let them know when and where you are going. Most importantly, demand they tell you what number to call when you're strapped for cash and they've frozen your debit card. You need a 24 toll-free number. It's probably not the customer service number printed on your card.

Don't trust Bank of America to get this stuff right. If you decide to follow Davester's advice and set up an account at a different bank, don't trust Bank of the Internet.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: freeradical
Date: May 19, 2009 01:59PM
Does anyone remember travelers checks? They're a great way to have a little emergency money. You can even get them denominated in foreign currencies.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: john-o
Date: May 19, 2009 02:03PM
Wow, that's all great advice. Unfortunately, she leaves a week from Saturday... I think we'll be fine, especially since she's travelling in a group, with everything arranged by a tour company. I know, not the way I would have done it, but the school's in charge on this one.

I will definitely follow all the debit-card-specific recommendations!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/19/2009 02:03PM by john-o.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: stoney70005
Date: May 19, 2009 02:15PM
Just got back from Italy in March. If she's flying out thru any major airport, she'll be able to change money, but as mentioned above, the rates are pretty poor. Also,our local AAA office will sell you an arrival package of about 70 euros ( mixture of bills and coins).

My debit card is Capital One and I called them to say I would be out of the country, gave them the dates. No problems whatsoever.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: Janit
Date: May 19, 2009 02:20PM
Imagine that you are a teacher who will be shepherding a gaggle of cranky sleep-deprived teenagers through a foreign airport, not to mention being sleep-deprived yourself.

Would you want to have to wait around while said gaggle waits in line to use the ATM machine? With ATM cards that may or may not work -- having been successfully pre-authorized or not? While they all call 1-800-release-my-money-please and then stand in line again?

Wouldn't you want to take get as much of this taken care of in advance as possible? Makes sense to me.

When I travel to Europe I seem to function on autopilot for the first day or so, and I do everything I can to make the landing as easy as possible.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: May 19, 2009 02:35PM
"Does anyone remember travelers checks?"

Yes. I would take $100 in TT as backup.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: finn
Date: May 19, 2009 03:33PM
Definitely watch out for pick-pockets at the major sites. They are notorious around Trevi Fountain, St. Peter's, Piazza Navona etc. . Keep hand on purse body at all times, no back-packs! Also, make a photo-copy of passport, credit cards and other important docs. Keep in separate place. If her passport or credit cards are stolen, or lost, it will make it easier to replace/report. Despite the warnings, she will love Italy!
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: davester
Date: May 19, 2009 04:29PM
Finn has excellent advice. Do all of those things. This may go without saying, but I hope you have purchased some kind of travel guide. Most travel guides deal with all the items discussed in this thread in the introductory sections. I suggest Rick Steve's guides as a first cut.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: space-time
Date: May 19, 2009 05:43PM
I leave to Europe in 2 days, otherwise I could have helped you. I have Euros and I could have mailed you some in exchange for $ at a very reasonable rate.
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: john-o
Date: May 19, 2009 06:34PM
Quote
space-time
I leave to Europe in 2 days, otherwise I could have helped you. I have Euros and I could have mailed you some in exchange for $ at a very reasonable rate.

Oh well, too bad, but I think we'll be fine. I've taken note of all the suggestions, she's got a good guidebook, etc. We appreciate all the help!!
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Re: Best way to buy Euros for pending Italy trip?
Posted by: dk62
Date: May 21, 2009 08:26AM
Good suggestions, some seem overly cautious. I have travelled all over the world with debit cards from 3 different banks, never had to pre-authorize any of them to get money from ATMs.

Credit cards are a different matter, although I got rid of those that required onerous pre-authorizations (I do not see why the banks should know my travel plans, and no, it is not for my protection - they are protecting themselves at the expense of my convenience).

Definitely go the ATM route, but let her have a small amount of dollars (like $40), just in case.

Passports and ATM cards belong in the hotel safe. I have never been ID'd when abroad, but do sometimes carry a copy of the photo page of the passport or my drivers licence in some countries, just in case. But never the passport itself. I also carry one credit card and some cash, all of those distributed across at least 3 pockets (shirt, pants). Been pickpocketed only once, in Paris Metro, by a guy who looked liked retired businessman.
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