Dollars v Euros


2018 edition Camino Guides

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natefaith

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#3
Hi E V and welcome to the forum. Yes, as trecile says, don't count on being able to use dollars here at all. Just have a few dollars to help you through the US airports, and to be safe you might want some euros as emergency money to use in case you can't get euros out of the ATM right away...but otherwise use a debit card (never a credit card as interest will start accruing right away) to withdraw euros from ATMs.

Enjoy all the planning and Buen Camino!
 

jo webber

Active Member
#4
We take a couple of hundred Euros for airports, taxies, subway tickets, lunch the first day. You will not be able to use US dollars. Your bank should be able to order the Euros for you. While you are at the bank ask about out of country charges. Add that percent or amount to the rate of exchange and you will have an idea of how much your Euros vs. Dollars will cost you.

If you are taking a credit card, get a pin number if you don't already have one.
 

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Sailor

Lifetime Membership Cardholder
Donating Member
#6
Recommend checking with your bank for availability. Today I went to my local bank with muchos dolares and returned home with muchos euros [and I did not have to place an order, the bank had the euros handy]. Buena suerte y que la luz de Dios alumbre su camino.
 

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linkster

Nunca dejes de creer!
#13
As a side note, you will most likely be asked whether you want to pay in dollars or euros if you use your credit card for purchases. I always pick the local currency (euros), and let my bank take care of the conversion. If you pick dollars, you are relying on someone other than your bank to do the conversion. I have read some articles that indicate this "convenience conversion" could be as much as 5%.
 
#14
If you go on the Camino francés and you happen to stay in Paris for a few days, take your dollars (cash only) to the Paris Chinatown (13ème arrondissement). This is where you get the best exchange rate for your dollars (no fees).

For the Caminho português, remember: there are still a lot of places in Portugal that will not accept debit cards, and only take cash. Spain is better about accepting payments with debit cards. If you go on the Caminho português, withdraw euros from an ATM every time you find one. Check with your bank whether they have a partner in Europe, and use their ATM to avoid conversion fees.
Of course, churches accept all kinds of currency as donation. Last year, I left a few dollars in the church of Padrón!
 

TMcA

Active Member
Donating Member
#15
@nycwalking -what was the problem with your debit card?

I ask this because I am with Kanga and Anemone. I just go to an ATM in the airport where I arrive (recently Paris, Bordeaux, and Marseilles) and withdraw euros using my debit card. However, before my departure I have to notify my bank (and also some of my credit cards) of my foreign travel, i.e., the dates of my travel and the foreign countries I will be visiting.

I flew last May to Paris and withdrew euros as I just described. But when I got to Pamplona my card wouldn't work in several banks' ATMs. I had a moment of panic, but also a hundred or so euros left from my earlier withdrawal. When I got to Puente la Reina I tried another bank and voila, euros! My card worked without a single hiccup for the next few weeks. I think what happened is that the banks in Pamplona were not affiliated with Visa and my card is - it has a little Visa logo on it. Banks that can accept my card display their Visa affiliation on or next to their ATMs. There will be multiple ATMs in any European international airport. Also Santander Bank operates in the US and is always a good choice for a withdrawal when you get to Spain.

About two years ago I took a ski trip to Europe with someone in the "get my euros before I go" camp. He told me he had gone to his US bank and gotten euros without any service charge. When we returned he asked me if I would buy his leftover euros which I said I would. But when he later showed me the exchange rate his US bank had charged, it was as I recall nearly 2% worse than what I had received by just going to the ATM (in Munich airport). So the bank's profit was not in the form of a service charge but in its exchange rate. My euros cost me $3 or $3.50 for each withdrawal of 500 euros and I received a significantly better exchange rate. On the Camino I usually withdraw only 300 euros. It seems that 300 is the maximum amount you can withdraw in most Spanish ATMs. I'm not sure if you can withdraw more at Madrid's airport.

Buen camino!

Tom
 
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grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#16
I think that it has been made very clear...but just in case there is still a bit of confusion...

U.S. dollars cannot be used in Spain or anywhere else in Europe. (Normally)

Just as the Euro is not accepted in the U.S. in normal business.
Think about it that way....

(Added..or Australian or Canadian Dollars)
 
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OTH86

Active Member
Donating Member
#17
Santander & Bankia banks do not charge an ATM fee as of last May.

Also, if you select payment in dollars rather than in local currency, your credit card company will add a $2.50 fee to the charge!
Buen Camino!!
 

JohnCP43

Member
Donating Member
#18
In considering use of credit vs debit cards remember debits come straight from your bank account almost immediately. Fraudulent use could empty the account and it may be harder to get it back from your bank. Credit cards will accrue interest but if a fraudulent charge is entered it can be contested with your bank and fraudulent charges are usually limited, generally to about $50 but some banks will even waive this.
It is also potentially helpful to notify your financial institution of your travel plans - dates, countries, etc. before you leave. Their anti-fraud software looks for charges deviating from your usual usage and block it unless they have a flag on your account to expect this. If they flag it they may call your home to verify the validity of the charge and if you're not there... I had this happen on a trip to England and they called my home. Fortunately my daughter was there picking up our mail and ok'd it. I also had a charge from Ivar blocked temporarily until I called and authorized it.
 
#20
Repeating some from the other thread, but:
  • Use your home ATM card to withdraw Euros. The card network that your bank uses for its ATM transactions (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) does the conversion from your home currency, and will do so at close to that day's interbank rate, which will be the best you can get. Local banks and exchange services are likely to gouge you with a poor exchange rate (an expensive fact that can be masked by "no fee" marketing). BUT ...
  • Your ATM use is likely to incur per-transaction ATM fees. This suggests that you should limit withdrawals to large amounts so as to spread the fees out. OR ...
  • Charles Schwab offers a no-fee checking account and reimburses you for all ATM fees anywhere in the world. There may be others like it.
  • I further asked Schwab to allow only ATM withdrawals - not debit purchases - to provide a level of security against fraud. If I lose it, it's only good if someone knows my PIN. I will use my regular credit card (which doesn't charge fees for foreign transactions and provides fraud protection) for any non-cash purchases.
 

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nycwalking

Veteran Member
#21
@TMcA,
The bank, BofA, had placed a 24 hour hold on a check I had deposited drawn on their bank. They never do that. When, I phoned they apologized, and said funds would be available following day. I expressed, I was at Barajas airport in Madrid, Spain with no money and no intention of spending night in airport ... they realeased the funds. I had given them my travel information prior to travel. Just one of those things. On another thread I relayed, ALL of my caminos have had at least one I Love Lucy or better yet Ripley's Believe it or Not moment.
 
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Saint Mike II

Vetran Member
Donating Member
#22
Yes, I always have a few euros when I land - just in case it is hard to find a nearby ATM. When you are tired and jet lagged...
Hi Kanga, similarly I have both paper notes and always keep my loose change, 10/20/50 cents & 1 & 2 E coin. It really would be useful if ATM also issued some coins. I had real problems at Madrid airport a few years back, the luggage trolleys only took tokens at E1 each.
 
#27
I use a travel money card from my bank when i travel. Its like a modern day version of travellers cheques. You can load up to 13 currencies on it (i have only ever needed 3 at a time) and switch the default currency when you need to). The benefit of this is you only ever get charged a one time currency conversion rate and then just the flat fee at an ATM if there is one. It's also safer than using your debit card in case it gets stolen, it means your regular savings account is not at risk, only the money on your travel card. Most banks offer this service and i believe other providers as well. I have used it on my past 4 overseas trips and wouldn't use anything else. It works just like a credit or debit mastercard. Hope this helps

Buen camino
 

trecile

Veteran Member
Donating Member
#28
As a side note, you will most likely be asked whether you want to pay in dollars or euros if you use your credit card for purchases. I always pick the local currency (euros), and let my bank take care of the conversion. If you pick dollars, you are relying on someone other than your bank to do the conversion. I have read some articles that indicate this "convenience conversion" could be as much as 5%.
And some of the ATMs also have the option to be charged in euros or your home currency. It's always better to choose euros. Otherwise you can get stung with a higher conversion fee.
In considering use of credit vs debit cards remember debits come straight from your bank account almost immediately. Fraudulent use could empty the account and it may be harder to get it back from your bank. Credit cards will accrue interest but if a fraudulent charge is entered it can be contested with your bank and fraudulent charges are usually limited, generally to about $50 but some banks will even waive this.
It is also potentially helpful to notify your financial institution of your travel plans - dates, countries, etc. before you leave. Their anti-fraud software looks for charges deviating from your usual usage and block it unless they have a flag on your account to expect this. If they flag it they may call your home to verify the validity of the charge and if you're not there... I had this happen on a trip to England and they called my home. Fortunately my daughter was there picking up our mail and ok'd it. I also had a charge from Ivar blocked temporarily until I called and authorized it.
But you should never use a credit card to withdraw money from an ATM, except in case of emergency, as you will incur cash advance fees, and interest will start accruing immediately.
 

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