What is the best, and least expensive way to get Euros for our excursions? We will be on the RCCL Voyager on July 8. My husband feels that it is best to cash in Travelers Checks at the ships desk and I had heard it is easiest to use the ATM machines in each city. Any information would be appreciated.
Originally posted by bnsvo:
When you use their ATM machines are you using a bank card or a visa card? How will I know if I can use mine in foreign ATM machines?
Look on the back of your card (I use my VISA Check card) and look for the "Interlink" or "PLUS" or "STAR" symbols - you will/should see the same on the face of the ATM you use in a foreign country. In London, you'll get British pounds, in Europe you'll get Euros, in India you'll get Rupees, etc.
We travel a lot internationally, and use Amex, Visa and MC as well as ATMs. American Express now charges a 2% fee on international charges (its built-in to their exchange rate) and most other cards also charge 2 or 3%. ATMs will generally give you the best overall rate...but this depends on your own ATM bank and whether they assess additional fees (mine does not). Cashing Travelers checks does not really get you a great rate these days, and you will normally need your passport or some good picture ID since there are lots of conterfeit TCs in Europe. So, how do we handle our cash on long trips (we are in Europe as long as 6 weeks)? We generally get all of our cash with ATMs. In order to get some additional protection in case an ATM does not work, my wife and i have seperate ATM cards from different banks. We also carry some TCs as an emergency back-up,,, but have not needed these in the past 10 years. We also make liberal use of our credit cards. A very important point is that you should notify your ATM bank (and Visa/MC) of your itinerary before you leave home in order to avoid any security problems based on the change in your spending patterns. With AMEX we have never had a problem.,,, but both VISA and MC (and the ATMs) can cut you off if they can't verify why your card is being used in strange places. Another tip is that you should have a 4 digit PIN for your ATM and know that PIN in numbers (many European ATMs do not have letters). If your ATM card fails to work in an ATM, simply walk away and try a different machine with a different financial institution. Europe has ATMs everywhere (often several per block in most cities).
Check the access of the credit card if there is a external reader "sticked" on the ATM (Pishing of Credit Card Datas and PIN) - especially in Eastern and Southern Europe but also "safe" countries like Germany!
Use more ATMs in lobbies of banks who have cameras monitoring over the places.
And always take your receipt and check your daily credit card balance by internet.
Most ATM accept VISA and MasterCard. Amex is more limited to some chains and Diners is very rare.
Amex offers Traveller's checks on a card. Will cut loss for worst case and is safe and will be replaced.
Most bankcards showing Maestro are all accepted all over Europe.
I noticed the comment about using VISA/MC in ATMs and must issue a firm warning to my fellow Americans. If you use your VISA or MC in a European ATM it will probably be treated as a VISA/MC "cash advance" which means you will have some additional fees and pay interest from the date of withdrawal (no grace period on cash advances). You should try to use a basic ATM card or a debit card that works on ATM networks.