buying Euros

User Forum Topic
Submitted by kev374 on March 23, 2008 - 9:56am

what is the best way to buy Euros without paying any commissions?

Submitted by socalarm on March 23, 2008 - 10:28am.

locate someone with a french accent and beat them with a stick.

Submitted by hipmatt on March 23, 2008 - 10:38am.

fxe is a simple, easy way.

Submitted by Eugene on March 23, 2008 - 12:11pm.

FXE is the easiest way to get electronic euros.

If you want cash, it's more difficult. The best way I know of is to go to Russia, they have currency exchange stations throughout major cities and exchange rates are often within 1% of spot price. If you find yourself in Europe, you can withdraw euros from your bank account using an ATM card, but your bank will probably charge you a foreign transaction fee on the order of 3%.

Submitted by bubble_contagion on March 23, 2008 - 1:38pm.

FXE but you will pay taxes on gains. I don't think you will get around paying commission and it will be for the full amount so taxes on gains may be less.

Even credit cards like AMEX will charge 2% commision on foreign currency purchases.

Submitted by 34f3f3f on March 23, 2008 - 2:36pm.

Your Visa or Mastercard probably offers better rates, than exchange offices. Order/buy AMEX travellers checks through your local office. Avoid hotel and airport exchange offices.

Submitted by four walling on March 23, 2008 - 5:59pm.

the Bank of America.

Before I went to Europe, I just went into my local B of A and ordered Euros. No commission, no mark up, just a straight exchange for dollars based on that days rates.

I ordered the Euros, and The B of A notified me when the currency was in. I went to the bank and picked them up exchanging them for US dollars in my account.

Submitted by Coronita on March 23, 2008 - 6:06pm.

Actually, if you have a BofA ATM card, you can use it at any Deutche Bank in europe without any transaction fees.

BofA has a partnership with Deutche Bank, and there is no transaction fee if you use their atms. Finding a Deutche Bank in Spain was surprisingly simple.

As far as credit cards, all of them (Amex,Vis,Mastercard charges an exchange fee. I think it's roughly2-3%). 

I wouldn't recommend traveler's checks. Major PITA. 



----- Sour grapes for everyone!

Submitted by 4826monongahela on March 23, 2008 - 7:25pm.

HSBC has a savings account that allows to withdraw from most ATM's WW with no fees & at competetive FX rates. It also pays a decent interest. No cost to open/close account, $1 minimum balance.

I travel often for work & got annoyed at always getting "nickeled & dimed" all of the time when pulling out cash in different countries with my non-local bank ATM card or the extortionate credit card ATM rates. HSBC is one of the larger WW banks.

Submitted by 34f3f3f on March 24, 2008 - 7:48am.

Beware HSBC! It does not operate like it's European counterparts. Crummy service! Travelers Checks are almost essential for foreign travel is you are going to use cash, but more for the security than exchange rate.

Submitted by kev374 on March 24, 2008 - 10:27am.

Does BoA change currency without fees for non-customers as well?

Submitted by asragov on March 24, 2008 - 10:33am.

BofA, Wells Fargo and other retail US banks charge an arm and a leg of spread for dealing in euros.

The stock FXE is an exchange-traded trust which holds euros, and will pay interest as well. Yes, there is tax on the gains, but it is very liquid to just buy in your brokerage account. Tax on gains seems fair ....

An ATM in continental Europe is not a bad suggestion.

But beware the US retail bank - you will get killed in both directions.

They might say "no commission", but if they sell euros for $1.70 and pay you $1.40 for your euros, you get the idea.

Submitted by four walling on March 24, 2008 - 10:34am.

I would check with your bank first and see if they can order the Euros for you. If not, you can then call or stop into your local B of A and find out if you need to be a client of theirs.

Submitted by four walling on March 24, 2008 - 10:47am.

The B of A charged me the going exchange rate for Euros with no mark up. I am not a "preferred customer" but I do keep about $20K in my .00001% interest bearing checking account.

So, I guess you can say they have been getting a free ride off those funds...

Submitted by DWCAP on March 24, 2008 - 11:01am.

Depends on why you want them. If you want to invest, I have no idea. If you just want some, find a friend. I had a friend visit from Europe just before I went over there a few years ago. I traded them dollars they gave me pounds when they came over (ie pulled them out on the way to the airport) and we just went online to see the prices. You dont even need to know the person. When in SFO, talking about it with my traveling buddy, a person behind us in the food court from Germany wanted to do the same thing but with Euros. Wish I had had more dollars on me. But this was back when they traded at the oh so painful rate (sarcasim) of $1 to 1.1 Euros.
I work for a european company and people go back and forth all the time. It is kind of a unspoken tradition here. If traveling for buisness, ask a contact coming the other way. Just dont help that poor widow of an ex-african general trying to get outa africa who can pay in gold or diamonds.

Submitted by stansd on March 24, 2008 - 11:16am.

The Euro is overvalued.

-At my company, our European workers are substantially more expensive than our American ones now, who are in turn, much more expensive than our latin american ones.

-My old boss is moving to Geneva: you wouldn't believe all the ski equipment and everything else he's buying here prior to moving-it's 2-3 times cheaper.

-Every time someone visits from Europe, they head to the mall for a shopping spree.

-My international stock fund has begun hedging it's Euro risk because it thinks the currency is overvalued (Never happened before-one reason I bought in several years ago).

-the Purchasing power parity models I've seen confirm the above.

If our govenment inflates the heck out of the money supply (a real possibility), that could be one way to bring this back into balance, but I'd consider hedging currency risk beyond the Euro if you are worried about the dollar.


Submitted by Diego Mamani on March 24, 2008 - 12:37pm.

Qwerty: Credit cards now impose a 3% surcharge on foreign currency transactions.

I prefer to use my Citibank ATM card in Europe: no fees, and leftover euro bills I brought with me have appreciated nicely. It's good to know about BofA and DB; thanks for the tip!

Submitted by Diego Mamani on March 24, 2008 - 12:41pm.

FXE pays a dividend/interest of 3.5%-4.0%, which is nice.

Submitted by kev374 on March 24, 2008 - 1:01pm.

I don't mind paying a flat fee like $5 to change money but 3% is total and complete bullsh!t. To add insult Wells Fargo not only charges $5 fee but also the 3% charge in addition to that and the maximum possible daily ATM limit is $500 for their "non-premier" checking accounts so wind up paying the fees multiple times if withdrawing more than $500.

Submitted by partypup on March 24, 2008 - 2:44pm.

The best way to buy euros is to open a foreign bank account. You don't always have to visit in person, but if you open an account in most European countries you will have to. Try Panama, the Caymans or St. Kitts. The transaction fee should be very low, and you can "purchase" in any quantity you want. Additionally, an offshore account is a great thing to have, now more than ever. American banks are now shakier than a hooker in church, and I fear that exchange controls in the not-so-distant future.

Submitted by kev374 on March 24, 2008 - 3:42pm.

I called Wells Fargo bank, get this... they want 5% commission to buy Euros.

Submitted by 4826monongahela on March 24, 2008 - 3:49pm.

qwerty007 - can you tell me why you are luke-warm on HSBC? I use them regularly for previously mentioned purpose all over AsiaPac satisfactorily. Haven't used HSBC in USA or EMEA, but the literature says should be no different (and Europe is their home turf.)

Submitted by cr on March 24, 2008 - 9:48pm.

If you're a AAA Auto Club member you can buy Euros for a small surcharge. In laws did for Italy last year and it was one of the better rates at the time.

Submitted by Coronita on March 24, 2008 - 11:03pm.

Qwerty: Credit cards now impose a 3% surcharge on foreign currency transactions.

I prefer to use my Citibank ATM card in Europe: no fees, and leftover euro bills I brought with me have appreciated nicely. It's good to know about BofA and DB; thanks for the tip!


Actually, for Visa/Mastercard, these surcharges have always existed...They just never disclosed them until a lawsuit. American Express always disclosed the surcharge. A lawsuit against visa/mastercard made them explicitly state the surcharge they were already impliciting charging by  burying them in the exchange rate.


February 10, 2003, Poor Consumer Discloser May Result In Hefty Visa, MasterCard Refund
A judge ruled against Visa International and MasterCard International in a preliminary decision at the start of February. The judge’s decision could result in the two credit card companies having to refund at least $500 million because of poorly disclosed fees to cardholders using the credit cards over seas. Consumers have been unaware of the currency-conversion fees because many claim these charges have not been adequately disclosed.

The decision, made in a California state court will mean that the two largest payment networks could have to make a refund on a 1% surcharge paid since 1996 by a high number of consumers that have made charges overseas. Visa and MasterCard have been charging a wholesale foreign-currency conversion rate plus 1% to the banks that issue credit cards and the banks pass the charge to cardholders. Some card issuers will make additional charges to as large as 2%. The California judge did not feel Visa and MasterCard sufficiently disclosed to cardholders the fee.

Visa and MasterCard had a combined total earning of at least $240 million last year from foreign-exchange fees from U.S. issued cards. Although card-issuing banks do include foreign-exchange fees in pamphlets that arrive with the issuance of new cards, when a cardholder receives a bill the card issuer often fails to make note that an automatic additional fee has been added. Consumers are often shocked when a long time later they realize the extra fees they have been paying.

The judge, in addition to ordering a refund, said that both Visa and MasterCard would have to mandate that banks that issue their cards disclose the fee clearly in statements in the future. If upheld, all Visa cardholders nationwide would apply to the ruling since the credit card company is based in California, however only MasterCard cardholders in California would apply since MasterCard is based in New York. This California decision may only be the start of many more problems for the credit cards companies that could face suits in other states as well.



----- Sour grapes for everyone!

Submitted by covered_10 on May 24, 2009 - 12:16am.

nope. I just bought a lot of swiss franc from them and it was 7% commission. more than the realtors!

Submitted by patientrenter on May 25, 2009 - 11:12am.

Depends on purpose:

1. For daily purchases in Europe, I use cash withdrawals from European ATMs, using my US ATM card, supported by my low-fee credit union.

2. For larger deposits, I use Everbank. They have various demand and CD accounts for a few foreign currencies. US dollar-equivalent principal is insured by our own FDIC.

3. For large transactions, such as hedging my overall savings against future dollar devaluation against the euro (and to the extent that I chose to use the euro instead of the yen as a stable value currency), I use the CME futures contracts. There are lots of brokers, but I use Interactivebrokers. I know it's a futures contract, but you can use it to effectively convert dollars to euro in a pretty efficient and convenient and reversible way.

Submitted by peterb on May 25, 2009 - 11:52am.

Why bother?

Submitted by patientrenter on May 25, 2009 - 3:11pm.

socalarm wrote:
locate someone with a french accent and beat them with a stick.

I vote for this. Lol! Thanks, socalarm.

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