Although this will no doubt be the trip of a lifetime for you, it is important to think about how you will get money while you’re over in Europe. Keep in mind when you read this that the policies and fees are different for every bank; however, the same general principles apply. Please note that these are all the policies and procedures for American banks. If you open an international bank account before you leave overseas with a bank like HSBC, you will have the easiest time getting money, with limited conversion and transfer fees, and the added bonus of still having a useful bank account when you return home.
The most expensive way to get money will be through an ATM. Not only will you be charged an ATM fee (sometimes a base dollar amount, other times a percentage of what you withdraw), but in most cases you will also be charged a conversion fee to convert your money from U.S. Dollars to the local currency. If you’re simply looking for the convenience of withdrawing money, this is probably the way to go.
The next way for you to get money is to have it wired from the United States. This will require a European bank account. Luckily these are fairly easy to set up, and are often free. There will most likely be a flat fee for this. One important thing to note, if the wire transfer is done by the bank it will cost more than if you do it by yourself (with the bank I used it was only a difference of five dollars, but it’s important to try and save where you can).
The last way to get money while you’re in Europe is the cheapest, but also takes the longest due to the fact that European banks can take up to thirty days to transfer money. You will need both a European checking account and an American checking account, and then simply write a check to yourself from your American bank account to your European one. In my experience, the process took three weeks.
It is always best to bring some money with you when you travel overseas until you are certain of your money situation over there. If you’re planning on using an ATM to get cash or even plan on wiring money over, you won’t need to travel with as much cash on you (probably 100 euro/pound), however, if you plan on writing a check to yourself, I would suggest travelling with 700 euro/pounds. You can spread this money out in your suitcase and by using a money belt.
Look for next week’s blog for more about money! Remember if you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org