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Advice for Europe trip

VaBluebirdVaBluebird 3280 replies229 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
edited September 16 in Parent Cafe
We are three weeks out from our Viking River cruise, the Grand European from Amsterdam to Budapest. We did a two day add on in Amsterdam. 17 days total.
How much cash in Euros should we take?
Advice please on using charge cards overseas vs. AAA prepaid Visa card or Travelex Money Card?
We are first time international travelers (except for Canada) so any advice of any kind is welcome. I'm very nervous.
edited September 16
63 replies
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Replies to: Advice for Europe trip

  • doschicosdoschicos 21101 replies219 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 16
    Credit card and your ATM card are all you need.

    I wouldn't even worry about getting Euros here in the USA before you depart. You can hit an ATM at the airport.

    https://www.schiphol.nl/en/at-schiphol/services/money-services-abn-amro


    Have a fantastic trip!
    edited September 16
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  • TheBigChefTheBigChef 554 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    Most Visa and Mastercards will hit you with a international transaction fee on items you charge. AMEX does not, but is not as widely accepted as Visa and MC. Check with your credit card company and ask them what the fees will be. Also, call your credit card company and notify them of your travel plans to avoid getting your card cut off as fraud protection. Also, contact your cell phone carrier so you can use your phone in Europe. Verizon charges $10 per day. As far as Euros go, I usually bring 100 or so and then hit up ATMs as needed (notify your ATM bank of your travel plans as well).
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  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner 38891 replies468 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I would not get bent out of shape trying to get a new card just to avoid some fees. How much would you spend? Very little, probably; if this is a cruise, food and lodging, the two biggest categories,
    are already prepaid.
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 38380 replies2103 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    Capital One doesn't charge international transaction fees.
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  • GB2020GB2020 14 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Agree with the above comments. We usually bring a few euros with us in case we need cash right after arriving. We’ve found the best exchange rates at European atms. ATM cards with a visa logo are usually accepted world wide. Your US bank will also likely charge a non bank fee, maybe $5 -$10 per withdrawal. We often try to make one large atm withdrawal after we arrive to get us through our trip instead of multiple small withdrawals. Then use our cc as much as possible.

    We also set up a secondary bank account at home with limited funds for the trip and a separate atm card. In case we lost or someone stole the card it wasn’t tied to our primary checking account.

    Make sure your credit card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee which is often 3% of a transaction and can add up.

    For cell phones if your phones are unlocked we often buy a local prepaid SIM card. They are cheap and readily available and come with an allotment of data, voice and text.
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  • abasketabasket 19308 replies858 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I'd call your look online at your current credit cards and look/ask about foreign transaction fees. A couple of mine don't have extra fees including the Costco VISA.

    My tip is to take two credit cards. I had trouble using one of mine in France and was happy I had another to pull out.

    Check with your cruise to ask about when/where you will have the chance to get some local $$ in hand on the cruise.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34060 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 16
    A friend took a similar trip and wished she'd brought a few more warm clothes.

    I was on a multi country cruise last month and used my card almost exclusively. These countries are tech savvy. Just a little cash, initially, in case you need to tip, buy something small, take a taxi, etc.

    Ask you card companies if they have transaction fees. My Visa does not. Even if they did, it's not exorbitant. Yes, you must let them know where you'll be.

    Phone: yes, get a plan. I did the $10/day Verizon. Far cheaper than ordinary call costs or data use from abroad. And if you don't use your cell in their 24 hour periods, no fee. Have them explain how it works. Get some sort of data plan for the ship. Unless you can go cold turkey.
    edited September 16
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  • FlyMeToTheMoonFlyMeToTheMoon 3005 replies45 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    As mentioned above, Capital One cards have no international transaction fee, but we learned when you have a choice between being charged in dollars or being charged in local currency, to choose local. There was a savings. I don’t know the specifics of why this is true, but my husband kept checking our charges online, and quickly learned to charge local currency.

    ATT offers full cell service for $60 a month, which ended up being cheaper than their other option of $10/day. It is well worth having full service, if for no other reason than to make sure you don’t get lost.

    I’m paying attention to what others are saying about euros. We used zero cash in Denmark and Switzerland, but have been told when we go to Spain we need to have some cash.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7242 replies56 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We haven't used cash on a European vacation in years and years.

    If you have a pre/post ship excursion, be sure to bring a converter for your electronic devices.
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  • milee30milee30 2092 replies13 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 16
    If you're staying in Amsterdam a few days, I'd highly recommend the Hungry Birds walking food tour. My son and I just returned from Amsterdam and this was one of our favorite activities while there. Fantastic, interesting guide, great food and small group - very fun. Book soon, they fill up.

    No idea on some of your other destinations, but in Amsterdam and Belgium (Antwerp and Bruges anyways), no need for much cash as credit cards were almost universally accepted. Have fun!
    edited September 16
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  • SybyllaSybylla 3812 replies48 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 16
    Keep an emergency alternate CC in your bra or knickers. Pickpockets are rife in Euro capitals. IMO a CC with no charges is well worth the effort. I don't really know why you are looking at prepaid, are you not a CC holder normally? IMO there are much better protections and rates with real CCs. It is worth searching for no fee cards IMO, 3% is not to be sniffed at, that is not uncommon for the unsavvy user.
    edited September 16
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34060 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Plugs reminds me: many ships only have one outlet per cabin. Sometimes, not near the beds.

    Even a street merchant in one small country had the gizmo to take a card payment via his cell.

    In some places, you do need coins to pay for a public restroom. Some will tip an excursion guide.

    When you're off ship, try some local food.
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  • SybyllaSybylla 3812 replies48 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    T mobile works well in Europe if you are already a user, texting is free, calls are pretty cheap, WIFI calling is charged though, at the call rate, so use whats app/skyp/
    duo or the work around as per your device.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 21101 replies219 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Whether you need cash in Europe really depends on the location. In Italy, we've found there are places where you will need cash.
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  • TS0104TS0104 885 replies26 threadsRegistered User Member
    Just went to Europe for the first time in August and agree with the tips here. I did use my CC everywhere (after finding out which one had no transaction fees), exceptions were tipping a travel guide, and sometimes for very small purchases like street vendors they wouldn't take a CC. I agree that the international transaction fees (3-6% usually) are not something to ignore. Also to have Euro coins for restrooms, even in airports you may have to pay for the bathroom. And finally, also, some smaller vendors wouldn't want to change say a 50 Euro bill for a small amount like a snack, so get your Euros in small bills. If you decide to get them ahead, you can order them at your bank or through AAA if you have it. I got 100 euros cash for two weeks but didn't need that much for incidentals. You can change it back into USD for a fee at the airport when you are coming back home. You can also use ATMs there to get local cash, having called first to alert your cards that you will be out of the country.

    When my son went for a week I bought him a Travelex card and he had no problems.

    Speaking of tips...in Europe, tipping is much lower than in US, as in 10% or less for restaurants and like one euro for cabs.

    I found the Rick Steves guidebooks very helpful for tips like this, including pickpocketer info. One of his tips is if the credit card machine asks if you want to convert to dollars, always answer NO...there is an extra commission usually built into that. Have it done in Euros and your CC company will do the exchange rate when it goes on your bill.
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  • mathmommathmom 32354 replies159 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You've gotten good money advice. Second the advice to bring plenty of layers. I'm always cold in northern Europe. Have a great trip!
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34060 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    A 3% fee on $100 is only $3.00. I don't worry about that.

    In some countries, when tipping on a meal, first you check if a service charge is already included, then just round up. A 17.50 Euro bill may get just the extra .50 added. You can google about this.

    My friend's trip was down the Rhine, same time of year. She's hardy and experienced with this sort of cruise, has also done the Hungary-Germany route. Still, she said this trip, this time of year, was chilly enough that it limited her. (I'd ask her more, but she's in Scandinavia now, where it's raining lots.) Just be prepared.
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  • conmamaconmama 4240 replies314 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We got the capital one CC fir our first trip to Europe! Love that card. We also took the other one just in case.

    We did the Verizon international plan. I think it was $40 for a month or so. When you get back, it’s prorated, so it was less than half of that for us.
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  • college_querycollege_query 4310 replies321 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 16
    We have done a couple Viking tours; most recent was last summer.

    It was “recommended” we tip both our bus drivers and our tour guides, so we needed lots of Euros for that (broken down in small amounts).

    Comfortable shoes for the various excursions - lots of cobblestones and old European streets.

    Yes to jackets. It’s interesting to go outside when going through the locks, and at night it can get chilly.

    I’m not a big drinker and the wines with meals was more than enough, but others who like to drink more got the package that includes the alcohol. Would not have been worth it for me, though.

    My first time I was not accustomed to having to put my room key in place first before turning on lights. There’s a spot for it inside the rooms.

    I almost always went with the chef’s recommendations for food/wine, but there are plenty of options if it’s not appealing.

    You’ll probably wear fewer clothes than you think - we were able to manage with just carry on size.
    edited September 16
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