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Is using a credit card in Europe cheaper than buying euros?

(21 Posts)
weirdsister Fri 24-Jun-16 14:37:04

I can't get my head around this.
Will it be cheaper to buy directly in Europe using a credit card than buying euros here?

mimbleandlittlemy Fri 24-Jun-16 14:40:02

Depends on the fee your credit card charges along with the conversion rate they apply. This gives you some useful info:

AlbusPercival Fri 24-Jun-16 14:41:04

Depends on the credit card.

If you are meaning because of the turmoil in the markets the difference comes down to timing. If you had bought at 7 am this morning you would have got many fewer euros for your money than if you bought them now.

weirdsister Fri 24-Jun-16 14:47:19

I need to pay for my accommodation and car hire...kicking myself.

weirdsister Fri 24-Jun-16 14:50:13

If I pay in Europe on my card will it be converted to sterling or will I pay it in euros- I don't get it! confused
I was thinking of applying for a card (one with no fee to use abroad) specifically for this purpose in the hope that it would be cheaper.

AlbusPercival Fri 24-Jun-16 15:39:30

ok, think of it as buying euros. Imagine your car hire is 100 euro

If you go to the post office/ bureau de change you use sterling cash to buy euros. You then use that to pay for your car hire etc. It will have cost you however much it is to buy 100 euro at the time you buy your euros.

If you pay on your credit card, the car hire company will take 100 euro from your account. Your bank instantly sells you 100 euro, and takes the cost of the euros from your account. That will be at the current price at the bank and may also have an extra charge for using your card abroad.

weirdsister Fri 24-Jun-16 16:34:42

Thankyou that makes it clearer. So it's no cheaper buying things directly in Europe then. sad

Orac Fri 24-Jun-16 17:59:32

Be very careful if you are not used to using a card abroad.
Most bank ATMs and businesses will offer you the chance to "pay in Euros".
You should reject the offer and pay in pounds. They will give you the worst possible exchange rate however the pound / Euro is faring.
I always use the Halifax clarity card as recommended here.

caroldecker Fri 24-Jun-16 18:24:51

Orac surely you mean you should pay in Euro? The credit card companies normally have better rates than the retailer.

QuinionsRainbow Fri 24-Jun-16 18:51:32

General recommendation is to pay in the local currency, and to avoid the offers to pay in sterling like the plague. And watch out, although the local currency option is always there (after all, it's what local card-users will get as a matter of course) foreign card-users are not always offered it, and it's wise to say you want to pay in euro/whatever before starting the transaction.

Orac Fri 24-Jun-16 19:18:53

blush blush Euros of course what was I thinking!
<I must preview posts>

weirdsister Fri 24-Jun-16 20:43:57

Okay - so I need to ask to pay in euros and then is it cheaper than buying euros here?

I was looking at that Halifax Clarity card this morning. Should have time to apply for it.

cheerup Sat 25-Jun-16 13:40:27

Generally you will get a better rate through a card - all other things being equal - but if the rate goes down between when you would have bought your currency and when the credit card co applies the exchange then you won't. Unless your budget is super-tight or you're planning to spend thousands then I wouldn't lose sleep over it. I think rates are going to go up and down over the next couple of weeks. I'm waiting for a bounce (wouldn't be surprised to see 1.27 again in the short term although) and then I'll buy ours for Aug. Rates have been low for months and yesterday's drop was less severe than I'd anticipated.

BarbaraofSeville Sun 26-Jun-16 06:18:56

Okay - so I need to ask to pay in euros and then is it cheaper than buying euros here

Yes to paying in Euros. It is usually cheaper to use your card abroad than exchange Euros here but it depends on your card and its charges.

Some cards charge a fee for overseas usage and give you a crappy exchange rate too, so that might be worse than changing money here.

The Halifax Clarity Card is the 'Gold Standard' so is the one to use if you can get one in time. I've had one for years and it's probably saved us hundreds of pounds in currency fees over time.

There are other options too but have a look at moneysavingexpert for full information.

ScarletBegonia1234 Thu 30-Jun-16 21:03:22

I would recommend Halifax clarity. No fees for cash withdrawal abroad. You need a pretty good credit rating to get it I think though....I was denied the first time as my name change after getting married counted against me!

rollonthesummer Thu 30-Jun-16 21:05:40

How does Halifax clarity work?

QuinionsRainbow Fri 01-Jul-16 22:46:27

Whenever you use Halifax Clarity to buy something abroad, insist that you are billed in the local currency - you will find that some shops/restaurants/etc try to convert to sterling. Your local currency purchase is charged to your Clarity account at cost, and converted to sterling at the Visa exchange rate - and you can't get anything better than that. There are NO other charges, NO charge-per-use, No percentage-loading.

As an example, a recent car-hire abroad got charged in Sterling instead of Euros, despite us asking for it to be done in Euros. Using the Clarity exchange rate for a separate Euro charge the same day, I estimate that were "scammed" to the extent of about £10.

Breadandruses Fri 01-Jul-16 22:50:49

FairFX prepaid euro card might be worth checking out

rookiemere Fri 01-Jul-16 22:52:08

I have a post office MasterCard recommended by Money Expert a couple of years ago. Exchange rate generally seems to be pretty good.

AugustRose Fri 01-Jul-16 23:09:52

I have a Santander credit card and used it in Spain last week, they are not charging fees at the moment so it was worth using.

Completely agree about paying or withdrawing money in Euros as the exchange rates/fees can be crap. As an example, I was paying in Euros for something that was 59.70 Euros - I noticed on the screen that if I wanted to pay in £s it was £52.50 (crap I know but the pound had just dropped). Anyway, I paid in Euros and when I got home and checked the bank I had only been charged £49.50 - so the fees can add up if your are not careful.

TheRoadToRuin Sat 02-Jul-16 12:09:37

QuinionsRainbow We got scammed like that last year on a large Euro bill. angry They had a machine which showed the price in Euros and then asked for your PIN, then accepted it. The vendor then took the machine off me and took the card out. What I did not twig at the time was that she knew the machine would ask Pounds or Euros after my PIN was accepted and she quickly pressed pounds as she took the machine off me. Cost me over £50 more.

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