How to spend money in a different country?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by katie ta achoo, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. katie ta achoo macrumors G3

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    #1
    So, I'm leaving for Europe in 16 days (hooray widgets!!).
    I have no idea of how to spend money over there.

    I don't want to carry 100% cash, in case I get mugged (knock on wood), so I need to know how to put it in either debit card form or traveler's check form, which has advantage over the other.. which is better.

    I'm just so confused! Do I have to put the debit card in Euros before I go over, will the bank take care of it?
    If I get traveler's checks, are those in Euros? Traveler's checks aren't accepted EVERYWHERE in the US, will that be the same way in Austria and the Czech Republic?:confused:

    If I do get a debit card, and they ask to see some ID, will my US driver's license suffice, or do I need to show them my passport?

    My head hurts. :(
     
  2. cslewis macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

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    #2
    Well the Czech Republic hasn't yet adopted the Euro, so you'll need some koruna... :D To you avatar gameplayers... the guy in my 'tar would know!
     
  3. 2nyRiggz macrumors 603

    2nyRiggz

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    Thank you Jah...I'm so Blessed
    #3
    I think you would be able to use your card....IF you can find a ABM that supports your card....always good to carry a little cash on ya just incase;)



    Bless
     
  4. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Andover, MA
    #4
    When in Finland, I use my credit card almost exclusively, with zero problems. As long as your debit card is affiliated with Visa or MasterCard, you should be fine.
     
  5. katie ta achoo thread starter macrumors G3

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    #5
    My Czech friend (I've known him for 15 years) says that the Czech republic does accept the Euro. Or they have to.
    Something like that, so Euros are still OK.
     
  6. neocell macrumors 65816

    neocell

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    #6
    You will most likely get nailed with service charges if you use a debit card (when I was in Aus it was $2 for using a different bank + $5 for out of country, for every transaction :eek: ). I would suggest to go with the credit card and cash/traveller's cheques, since there's no service charge to use them. If the card or cheques get stolen, you can cancel them, and pretty much every where will take them (for those few places that don't carry a $100 or so of the local currency). And have fun :)
     
  7. kretzy macrumors 604

    kretzy

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    #7
    When I went overseas, I found the easiest things was to just have a debit card. You can use it in most shops and with ATMs. Try and get one with these logos on it:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Many people I know, including myself, that have been overseas, have used cards with these logos on them and they have worked perfectly. A Visa or MasterCard can also be a good option, but you can't withdraw cash with those.

    As for currency conversion, just set up a regular account and the bank will take care of the conversion. Say you withdraw 100 euros, $119 will come out of your account.

    Traveler's cheques are getting a bit old school, not that many shops accept them, and they are a hassle to cash in.
     
  8. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #8
    Then you're not using Bank of Montreal. They charge me $3 (Canadian) total for each international transaction, which isn't bad if you take out $300 at a time. I don't even live in the country, so this happens often.

    I wouldn't take travellers cheques because:
    1) Your charge you a fee for buying travellers cheques.
    2) Your bank charge you on exchanging currencies from US dollars to whatever currency you want to use.
    3) If you want to cash those travellers cheques in somewhere in Europe, they'll charge you another fee for exchanging them for cash.

    That's a lot of money thrown away.


    Here's what I usually do: I would take out the equivalent of $250-300 USD using your bank card every time you need cash. If you get charged $2 to 5 USD (depends a lot on your bank) for the transaction, plus the bad exchange rate, it really only works out to be around a 1-2% fee collected by the bank(s), which isn't so bad. Just don't take out $50 and pay a $2 to $5 fee.

    Just make sure the back of your bank card has a Maestro, Cirrus, or other logo from a company that would allow you to use your bank card at banks around the world. If you want to check for these logos, just go down to your nearest ATM and there should be a whole list of logos somewhere. Ones that say Visa are good too.
     
  9. Benjamindaines macrumors 68030

    Benjamindaines

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    #9
    I just use my credit card and exchange for maybe a few hundred at a bank. But make sure your credit card is excepted in that country.
     
  10. katie ta achoo thread starter macrumors G3

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    May 2, 2005
    #10
    Yeah, the credit car thing.. I'm under 18. I don't think any credit card company in their right mind would give me a card with an interest rate I would want to work with.

    What have y'all heard about the American Express Traveler's check card? Is that any good?
     
  11. Benjamindaines macrumors 68030

    Benjamindaines

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    #11
    I've never used them but I know people that have and they say they're great.
     
  12. kretzy macrumors 604

    kretzy

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  13. cslewis macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

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    #13
    I hope you have fun on your trip! What'll you be doing in the Czech Republic? I definitely recommend seeing Prague... riding the Czech National Railway would be a good idea, too.

    The red bold is something else... no, i'm not insane. :D
     
  14. 2nyRiggz macrumors 603

    2nyRiggz

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    Thank you Jah...I'm so Blessed
    #14
    I hate the sevice charges.....3bucks! damn....the local gas station charge me 2.50 to use there machine...i rather not.


    Bless
     
  15. Duff-Man macrumors 68030

    Duff-Man

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    #15
    Duff-Man says...I've nothing to add to this except to say have a great trip Katie - I've not been to the Czech Republic but Austria is a wonderful place...I hope you enjoy your excursion to Europe. How long do you go for and do you visit any other places? I know you'll be posting photos for us all upon your return.....oh yeah!
     
  16. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

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    Los Angeles
    #16
    Europe is just like Japan, except in almost every way, but perhaps my experience in Japan will be useful. I used a debit/ATM card, and got cash every other day to keep about 3 days worth of expenses in hand at all times. That way I could pay cash for most items while not carrying around an excessive amount.

    The card was supposed to work at any ATM with the brand name logo on it, but it didn't in fact work anywhere except ATMs at post offices. I never learned why it was rejected everywhere else, but it didn't matter because there are post offices all over. In Japan, however, post offices are also banking centers, while in Europe you might use ATMs at real banks.

    I don't know whether or not this applies to your trip, but I read that travelers checks weren't as convenient as they used to be and not accepted everywhere in Japan, so I changed my mind about using them at all.
     
  17. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

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    #17
    Do you mean a "Traveler's Cheque Card"? They can be good.

    I used Traveler's cheques to bring most of my money over to Canada and opened a bank account, giving me a debit card that worked everywhere. It was handy but not really an option for you I would think.

    When my sisters were backpacking round Europe, they had a card that was linked back to an account here. They were able to use it everywhere but you could only use it if there was money in the account - it was not a credit card.

    I used my credit card in Canada (and here) in a similar way. I only spend the money if it's already in my account and always pay it on time.

    Why not pop down to one of your local travel agents and ask them what they recommend for students traveling abroad.
     
  18. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #18
    ATM card is good,although check if they're charging you for currency conversion my UK bank doesn't and gives a good rate which is why I use them.Keep in mind that machines can eat cards(not common but does happen) so two cards are better than one,also banks sometimes take their networks offline for maintenance,usually about 2 or 3 am Sundays which will be your home local time,can be embarassing if you need to get money in a hurry.Also take some euros for emergencies.

    The reason I mentioned the ATM eating cards is that it happened to me the other day at my local branch I stood there as it tried to reboot(windows xp would you believe) and then went into the branch which was fortunately open to find another person waiting to get their card back,they said it happened all the time with that particular machine(so why not get it fixed or replaced,bank staff can be morons).The bank maintenance thing caught me out at Auckland airport when I spent my last NZ$ in a eating place only to find I'd forgotten the leaving tax,my banks system was down(NZ is 12 Hours before the UK) no credit card,so I had to cash a large denomination £ travellers cheque which meant I got screwed about three ways.
     
  19. Tymmz macrumors 65816

    Tymmz

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #19
    Another vote for VISA. Cirrus and Maestro are better when you want to get some cash at an ATM. I think it's very expensive if want to withdraw cash with VISA, I don't even know my PIN code for my VISA.

    If you got some cash, a VISA and a card with the Cirrus or Maestro logo you'll be fine.

    But I would suggest getting a "real" passport could save you some trouble.

    Hope you have a great time in Europe.

    Don't forget to try some of the czech beers, they are the best on this planet (no kidding).

    If you should stay in Prague why not take a bus connection to Berlin (Germany), a lot to see here and it's cheap.
     
  20. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #20
    The last few times I've been to Europe, I've opted for cash + ATM + credit cards (could be a Visa/MC branded debit card/cash card). While in the US Visa and MC are usually equally accepted, in Europe sometimes they are separate.

    You definitely should carry more than one form of payment if possible. Not only because you could get mugged, but because sometimes one just doesn't work.

    Cash plus two different cards would be best. Amex, Visa and MasterCard all have variants of the prepaid "cash cards" which could be a good option as a backup for you. Consumer Reports didn't like them as they said they were too expensive compared to a debit card, but check with any groups you or your parents belong to (AAA, Costco, ...) to see if they offer these kinds of cards at a discount for members. Some malls even use these kinds of cards instead of gift certificates but I don't know if there are any restrictions for use internationally.

    Definitely check with your bank about using your debit card overseas to make sure there are no hidden fees, daily limits, etc... that you might run up against before just trying it.

    B
     
  21. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #21
    i found the same behavior when i was in japan (fall 2004). luckily, i never had trouble finding a post office.

    katie -- your ATM card should get you by fine, i've had little trouble in europe. take some traveler's cheques as backup, or perhaps as principal payment for larger bills, like hotel rooms.

    regarding getting yourself a credit card (visa and MC are universally accepted), it doesn't matter what the interest rate is if you pay it back upon your return. or even better, pay it down beforehand. i'll often do that before i travel, then place a call to the CC company to let them know where i'm traveling so they don't freak when they see foreign charges.
     
  22. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #22
    LOL Don't use travellers cheques because banks charge you higher than official exchange rate?!? Dude, when you use Visa or Mastercard, on your bill you get charged the same bank buy rate --- plus another 2% on top!

    Debit cards can have massive transaction fees, percentage wise. Exchange, plus your bank's service charge of $2 - $7, plus the ATM company's service charge or the merchant's bank's service charge of $1 - $5. Not the sort of thing you want to whip out for your scoop of gelato.

    Take travellers cheques (if you have a 'premium' plan at your local bank or credit union you can probably get them at no fees) and change money in a reasonable amount when you get there & use cash for all your incidental expenses. If you want to buy something expensive, try the travellers cheques first if the merchant will take. The credit card may cost you more, but you may have a card that includes 90 loss protection, so if your Czech crystal gets smashed in your luggage, you may be able to claim a refund. Shop around a bit - some banks and currency exchanges charge a flat fee, some charge no fee but a worse exchange rate. Obviously choose the one with the flat fee for big exchanges and the % one for small exchanges. The worst I had was a bank in Germany who charged $5 to cash a $20 traveller's cheque. The best were from private currency exchanges that were in competition with each other.

    I put my cheques and cards and ID in a body belt under my shirt, and carry a cheap wallet with only pittance in it.

    Europeans are gonna want to see the passport for everything. They don't care from Texas drivers license.

    Organize your travel medical insurance before you go, through your household/auto insurance broker, it'll be cheaper than through a travel agent.
     
  23. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #23
    One other thing I have noticed in France in particular is that some stores wouldn't accept a debit card that wasn't smartcard equipped. I had to use a credit card (I suppose I could have used my debit card as a credit card) and they had to fill out a credit card slip by hand and seemed rather annoyed by that fact.

    I have not been to Austria recently or the Czech Republic ever, so I don't know how things are there...

    B
     
  24. Lau Guest

    #24
    How long are you going for, and how much money are you expecting to spend? I've never been abroad for longer than a week, so I usually just take the money (say £200-300) I was expecting to spend as cash, and keep it safe, and then use a debit/credit card for unexpected large purchases. If the hotel has a safe that looks ok, I usually keep most of it in there.

    Although it is a bit scary carrying round big piles of cash (especially if you're like me who usually has £20 or less in their wallet), as long as you're not going anywhere hugely dodgy I wouldn't worry too much. For instance, if I wasn't British I would no doubt be all money belted up when I went to London, but if you live in London, you just carry your stuff like normal (although with a bit of vigilance in central London).
     
  25. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #25
    Check with your bank that your ATM card will work overseas - and that they won't block it for 'out of pattern' transactions. And figure out what their charges are - some will charge you a $3 fee, some will be a % and some might not have any charge at all!

    Don't use that to buy day-to-day items like a debit card (the little charges will mount up rapidly). Instead, use that to withdraw 3-4 days cash at a time and use that to buy all those little things. Always use bank cashpoints rather than the stand-alone ones in bars/shops since the bank networks will charge you less.

    Take some cash to tide you over until you find a cashpoint.

    Traveller's cheques can be good - most places will accept them but it can be easier just asking the receptionist at your hotel to cash €100 rather than using them to pay for things while you are out. You won't usually get hit with multiple commission charges on them - usually just one for buying/converting to Euros. Cashing them in (if in the same currency) doesn't usually cost a premium.

    Take some of your usual currency with you too - $50 or $100 that you can store somewhere safe but separate from rest of stuff. If you lose everything else, then you can at least change that at a bureau de change and have some cash left.
     

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