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Maverick

Euros

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G'morning folks, I'm travelling to Europe (Spain, specifically) for a bike trip and was wondering what's the best way to get Euro's?

I've got 500 Euros now but after that, bank machines, credit card cash advances?

My bank tells me that any withdrawal will be converted to USD and then converted to the Euro.

Any advice is certainly welcomed.

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I use TD. My last two withdrawals from ATMs overseas were at 4% (Denmark) and 3% (Japan) (including any foreign bank transaction fees (my bank doesn't charge me ATM transaction fees)). There's no way that those were converted to US as an intermediate part of the transaction.

Make sure you tell your bank that you are travelling. It's mighty inconvenient if they disable your card when you are away.

Credit card cash advances have pretty hefty transaction fees and you end up paying (big) interest from the moment of the withdrawal. To stop the interest, you have to pay off your entire balance. I would recommend this only as a last resort.

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I use TD. My last two withdrawals from ATMs overseas were at 4% (Denmark) and 3% (Japan) (including any foreign bank transaction fees (my bank doesn't charge me ATM transaction fees)). There's no way that those were converted to US as an intermediate part of the transaction.

Make sure you tell your bank that you are travelling. It's mighty inconvenient if they disable your card when you are away.

Credit card cash advances have pretty hefty transaction fees and you end up paying (big) interest from the moment of the withdrawal. To stop the interest, you have to pay off your entire balance. I would recommend this only as a last resort.

Actually, for cash, I always found taking it directly off the credit card to be the cheapest method. Using a bank debit card was THE most expensive way.

To alleviate the interest from a credit card withdrawal, clear your credit card before you travel, load up the balance so that the credit card company owes YOU, then any withdrawals against that positive balance will suffer only a transaction fee.

Alternatively, purchase your Euros before you travel. Here in Ottawa is a company called Accu-Rate. They give a fair and honest transaction for any currency. Here is their website. I don't know if there are similar cash trading houses in other parts of the country.

http://www.accu-rate.ca/rates.php?currency=CAD

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I use a prepaid Master card when I travel. I put all of the money on it and use it. No interest and convenient.

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When travelling international I carry 3-4 credit cards and my debit cards.

One credit card is from the Chase line (eg either Marriott Rewards or Amazon cobranded credit card). These two specific cards have least foreign currency charges.

One credit card is my everyday TD Aeroplan Visa.

One credit card is my business expenses credit card. This card is not from the Visa line.

I have dropped using the generic TD Visa card I got when the Aeroplan card was with CIBC. My last trip in May I found that a problem with one TD card will affect them all, including debit card.

I use debit card for paying gas on the rental card. While the credit card providers claim to have methods to handle the inevitable request for ZIP code, I found in practice most gas stations reject foreign cards outright. But debit card work with PIN number.

One of the nice things with multiple credit cards from multiple issuers, if anything goes wrong I can use another card. But also each card can have a specific purpose ( so the TD card handles airfare, car rental, and purchases of goods & services, where as the Marriott card can handle hotel and the Amazon card can handle cash advances.

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Sounds complicated, b4m. But, whatever works for you. I hope you keep those cards in different pockets!

I carry 2 and a debit card, and leave one in the safe in my room with a shoe.

To purchase gas in the US where a postal code entry is required, use the 3 digits within your postal code followed by two zeros. I have used the method many times without fail for about 10 years.

If your postal code is A2B 3C4, enter 23400.

Saves a lot of pre-paying inside.

This is supported by FAQs on both the Mastercard and TD websites.

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.... and leave one in the safe in my room with a shoe.

.

Why do you leave a shoe in the safe? What do you do with its mate?

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To purchase gas in the US where a postal code entry is required, use the 3 digits within your postal code followed by two zeros. I have used the method many times without fail for about 10 years.

If your postal code is A2B 3C4, enter 23400

This is partially true....in your example if there exists a ZIP code 23400, it works....the problem is, is that sometimes there isn't a 23400...you have to look it up on-line at the US Postal service and see if it's a valid ZIP code. I tried with my Postal Code and converted it to XXX00 but there was no ZIP code XXX00...I looked up a ZIP code that started with XXX and found one XXX02 and that now works on US gas pumps...

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Moon that method of creating a positive balance on your credit card for the purpose of making interest-free cash advances may be prohibited. I tried that on an AMEX (15 yrs ago) and they froze the card, calling it an "unauthorized limit increase." Not sure if that is the case today or with other types of cards. FYI

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Why do you leave a shoe in the safe? What do you do with its mate?

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Had me wondering as well. I'm guessing it is an "aide memoire" not to forget the card (especially if they are your work shoes) ! ! !

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Why do you leave a shoe in the safe? What do you do with its mate?

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Had me wondering as well. I'm guessing it is an "aide memoire" not to forget the card (especially if they are your work shoes) ! ! !

Exactly.

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To purchase gas in the US where a postal code entry is required, use the 3 digits within your postal code followed by two zeros. I have used the method many times without fail for about 10 years.

If your postal code is A2B 3C4, enter 23400.

Saves a lot of pre-paying inside.

This is supported by FAQs on both the Mastercard and TD websites.

There is diminishing returns with this method. A number of newer fuel pump terminals are outright refusing to take foreign credit cards, forcing the customer to go inside. For example: the Conoco Phillips at DEN used to take foreign cards with the Zip code methods, i used the methods for years returning rental car. Back in May, foreign credit cards were refused. Either debit, prepay cash, or have the clerk hold your credit card.

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Just back from Spain. Do not expect foreign exchange service (or any service involving $$'s) in a bank unless you have a local account. Count on the ATM. Best rate (for me) and easiest. It spits out euros. Take as much euro as you are comfortable with in your pocket. Credit cards are not often accepted when away from tourist areas. Enjoy the Food and wine.

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Do not trust that all of your credit cards will work in all of the ATM's.

You may have to search to find the correct one (or two).

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There is diminishing returns with this method. A number of newer fuel pump terminals are outright refusing to take foreign credit cards, forcing the customer to go inside. For example: the Conoco Phillips at DEN used to take foreign cards with the Zip code methods, i used the methods for years returning rental car. Back in May, foreign credit cards were refused. Either debit, prepay cash, or have the clerk hold your credit card.

I have found this as well, you need to have a US billing address and a US card to work at gas stations in the US, I used to just enter any zip code and it worked, not anymore.

To alleviate the interest from a credit card withdrawal, clear your credit card before you travel, load up the balance so that the credit card company owes YOU, then any withdrawals against that positive balance will suffer only a transaction fee

My bank (RBC) won't allow me to do this, as soon as you take money out they count it as a cash advance regardless of the balance on your card. I did it once and then asked the bank about it and they told me it was no longer possible to do that,

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Moon, do you still get purchase points when using your method?

Don't know, Don. I haven't needed to make those international withdrawals anymore. I 'spose a telephone call to the credit card company would provide an answer... :scratchchin:

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Mo32

I am also with RBC and just used this exact method on a quick trip (couldnt get money on my prepaid fast enough) and had no issues at all. Never got nailed for the advance interest. They cannot charge interest on your own money.

My wife does the same with CIBC. I just always found the Prepaid reloadable MC easier except that it takes several days to load the money on it.

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^Interesting, I will send an e-mail to customer service and ask the question and I will post the reply.

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Here is the reply I got from Customer Service at the RBC re loading up your credit card with cash prior to a trip.....


My name is Marianne, your banking advisor and I will be pleased to assist you with your message about pre-loading your RBC Visa card.

I appreciate your desire to extend the purchasing power of your credit card.

Unfortunately, however, you're not allowed to overpay your credit card account. Please have a look at the cardholder agreement:

http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/cards/documentation/pdf/ch-agreement.pdf

Press Ctrl-F and type not permitted in the search box. The following section will come up:

"You are not permitted to make a payment exceeding your credit limit unless the amount you owe at the time of payments is more than your specified credit limit."

As you can see, paying your account into a credit balance is a violation of the Visa agreement.

In order to accommodate the purchase you want to make, you'll need to apply for an official increase.

Thank you for choosing RBC Royal Bank; we appreciate your business.

We'll be happy to help you again if there's anything else you want to discuss.

If you'd prefer, you can also call us at 1-800-769-2512, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Sincerely,

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Here is the reply I got from Customer Service at the RBC re loading up your credit card with cash prior to a trip.....

My name is Marianne, your banking advisor ....

.... Unfortunately, however, you're not allowed to overpay your credit card account. Please have a look at the cardholder agreement:

"You are not permitted to make a payment exceeding your credit limit unless the amount you owe at the time of payments is more than your specified credit limit."

As you can see, paying your account into a credit balance is a violation of the Visa agreement.

In order to accommodate the purchase you want to make, you'll need to apply for an official increase ....

I'm not at all convinced that pre-paying and drawing cash advances would be an efficient way to get foreign currency abroad, but regardless - Altho' not sure how the question to Marianne was framed, her conclusion does not logically follow her reference from the agreement, which in itself seems to have little to do with the hypothetical transactions being discussed here.

FWIW, here's another excerpt:

Applying Your Payments

When you make a payment we will apply the amount up to your Minimum Payment, first to any interest and second to any fees. We will apply the remainder of any Minimum Payment to your New Balance, generally starting with amounts bearing the lowest interest rate before amounts bearing higher interest rates. If you pay more than your Minimum Payment, we will apply the amount over the Minimum Payment to the remainder of your New Balance. If the different amounts that make up your New Balance are subject to different interest rates, we will allocate your excess payment in the same proportion as each amount bears to the remainder of your New Balance. If the same interest rate is applicable to both a cash advance (which never benefits from an interest-free grace period) and a purchase, we will apply your payment against the cash advance and the purchase in a similar proportionate manner. If you have paid more than your New Balance, we will apply any payment in excess of the New Balance to amounts that have not yet appeared on your monthly statement in the same manner as set out above. Credits arising from returns or adjustments are generally first applied to transactions of a similar type, second to any interest and fees, and the remainder to other amounts owing in the same manner as we apply payments in excess of the Minimum Payment.

If indeed you'd paid yourself into a positive net balance as the above does contemplate (without making a payment so large it exceeded your entire credit limit), perhaps you'd be interested in Marianne's explanation as to why "amounts that have not yet appeared on your monthly statement" could not include cash advances. OTOH, her illogic in the previous answer does not inspire confidence, but maybe hope might spring eternal. ;)

Cheers, IFG :b:

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The other downside to cash advances... prepaid or not...

For all Accounts except the US Dollar Visa Gold Account, if the cash withdrawal or CashLike transaction occurs outside Canada, a $5.00 fee will be charged each time. For the US Dollar Visa Gold Account only, if the cash withdrawal or Cash-Like transaction occurs outside Canada, a $3.50 fee will be charged each time.

In addition to the $5, they still charge exchange differential.

We will bill you in Canadian currency. If you or your Authorized Users use a Credit Card or your Account number outside Canada or charge amounts to your Account in a foreign currency, we will convert the charges into Canadian dollars no later than the date we post the transaction to your Account at our exchange rate which is 2.5% over a benchmark rate set by the payment card network that is in effect and that we pay on the date of the conversion.

So, you pay $5 plus exchange, plus 2.5%. (It turns out that RBC debit adds the 2.5% as well)

I still like the debit method for cash and use my credit card to make restaurant and other purchases.

If you have to return something, you pay the 2.5% and exchange again... a minimum of 5% for purchase and return. A good reason to have a US dollar card if your wife likes to buy and return like mine does sometimes.

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When I use the prepaid card I do not cash advance it for the above reasons. On top of all of that you get stung with a fee from the advancing bank. That makes it not worthwhile. Carry some cash and pay everything on the card. Its just easier.

I did a 9 day Bike trip in the US with less that $100 in cash. EVERYTHING was put on the card unless it was not possible or a very small purchase. Also makes tracking where the money went easier

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And if you have the right points on your card, the percentage back helps mitigate the service charges.

Right now, the Costco MasterCard is a pretty good deal. No fee, 3% back on restaurant meals, 2% back on all gas purchases, and 1% back on everything else.

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