Subject: Re: High cost of Euros at US bank
Hi Paul and other Ziners,

Paul asked non USA members to comment on what they are charged to change their home currency to Euros?

Last year when we travelled to Europe and Hong Kong I bought some euro and HK$ notes from the Commonwealth Bank here in Australia so that I would have currency in my hands when I landed. The conversion rate used was the published best rate and the fee was minimal. I shopped around looking at Amex and Thomas Cook - their rates were not as good.

While in Europe I used a Visa debit card to obtain euros from my Australian credit union account. The conversion rate was always the best available and the fee was 1%.

I also carried credit cards on which I could obtain cash advances.

Once I had to use my Mastercard (National Australia Bank) as my account balance was too low that day and I needed cash now. The conversion rate was fine. The fee was $3.50 Australian as well as the 1% - all up say 4 euros in fees to obtain 300 euros.

Before we left I had planned to carry some travellers cheques. My aunt persuaded me that the world had changed, there were lots of ATMs and the connnections to Australia were reliable. She was right, we were never let down.

I also carried a Travelcard which is stored value visa card issued by Thomas Cook through our credit union. I loaded $500 Australian or so onto it and had an arrangement with my credit union that the value could be topped up via instruction by e-mail or phone. I only used that card to reduce the balance - not because my other source of funds failed.

My conclusion: as a consumer, for every transaction involving exchange whether buying notes in advance or obtaining cash while away, I thought we were treated very fairly, the charges reasonable and as described in advance, and the systems were easy to manage.

Regards Anne Canberra, Australia