Buy Euros Before you Go!


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It’s always a good idea to have a few Euros in your pocket before you land in France. That will help you to avoid the temptation to change money at the airport currency exchange shops which traditionally offer the most outlandish rates – my husband and I refer endearingly to one such affair as ‘thomas crook’ – whoever that is.

So here’s a starting point. As I get more information, I’ll continue to post regarding currency conversions. Starting with today’s exchange rate (which probably will have changed by the time I post!) At 9:49 EST on Jan 25, 2007, the ‘million dollar’ rate is 1.29.
That means if you were to take $500 U.S. and buy Euros. You would receive at the ‘million dollar’ rate E365.20.
I found this rate on the site www.gocurrency.com. As soon as they send me more info about their exchange rate for buying $500 worth of Euros, I’ll include that info in this post.

But guess what? No one (except maybe your dad or uncle is going to give you that exchange rate. Plus, if you’re dealing with a company that does nothing but convert currencies, you will have to pay a fee (they may advertise no fees, but even if there’s no fee, they do have to make a profit somehow, so it will be included in the exchange rate.

The first thing you may want to do is go to your local bank where you already have an account and ask if they buy and sell currency. I visited our local branch of HSBC and here is what they said:
At today’s conversion rate, they would sell you Euros for the rate of 1.364 which means that if you debited US$500 from your account (you do have to have a bank account with HSBC), you would receive E 365. You need to place your order (preferably early in the day) and then it normally takes one to two business days to have the currency fed exed to the bank. There are no added fees for HSBC customers.

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Some other banks can take up to a week to receive currency, so be sure to ask first.

Another place you may not thought of for purchasing foreign currency is the AAA (Automobile Association of America). If you are an AAA member you can purchase foreign currency and travelers’ checks at your AAA branch.

The US$ currency exchange rate (the 1 million dollar rate) has been bouncing between 1.27 to 1.35 for a while now. There has been talk in some forums that maybe the dollar will strengthen. Some of you may remember that when the French franc first converted to the Euro back at the beginning of the millenium, the dollar and the Euro were almost equal in value. I am not an economist so my opinions are irrelevant here. But you can look at the numbers and decide for yourself – maybe you’re a hockey fan?

Obviously if you’re doing more than going on a trip – for example if you’re thinking about buying property in France, you’d want to seek professional advice on this subject.