Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Let's Talk Money

Let's talk money.  I just reviewed my bills from the Switzerland trip.  I was curious to see which method provided the most favorable currency exchange rate:  credit card, ATM withdrawal, home bank currency purchase or foreign exchange booth?

Definitely not the currency exchange booth.  Found at airports, train stations, and sometimes on the street in larger European cities, these locations charge a commission, of course.  I exchanged cash at the booth inside the Zurich train station on December 26, 2011, and paid a net $1.14 per Swiss franc.  That was also the same rate I paid for the francs I bought at home before I left from my local bank.

My ATM card was not only a convenient way to pick up cash, since ATM machines can be found in even the tiniest European villages nowadays, but also gave a competitive rate.  Even with the $5.00 per transaction fee, the net rate I paid for my ATM withdrawals in December and January was $1.07 per one Swiss franc.  And I had no problems regarding the previously posted concern about chip-and-PIN v.s. magnetic strip technology.

I love my Capital One Visa credit card.  Unlike some of my other credit cards, Capital One Visa charges no overseas transaction fees.  This is major, since, for example, my American Express card charges 2.7% of each foreign transaction after conversion to US dollars.  The average exchange rate for my Capital One Visa purchases was about $1.08 per franc and I had no trouble using it.


  1. Great tips. I always tell friends to skip the airport currency exchange and use their AtM cards and yeah, that AMEX fee is a killer.

  2. Good to know as London is calling and I was wondering if it was smart to get pounds before we left or just wait until we arrived.

  3. My ATM card is by far my most used way of getting money out while traveling. I only had an issue once when my bank constantly kept flagging my transactions even though I had informed then I would be traveling overseas.


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