Spending smart when the euro is cheap

By Veronica Crews


(Money Magazine) -- Travel on the continent is less expensive than it has been in several years, thanks to the euro's recent 15% plunge against the dollar.

But several major banks just raised foreign ATM and transaction fees for credit cards.

These strategies can help you minimize the dollars lost in translation.

For cash: Foreign ATM fees are brutal -- often $3 to $5 plus a 3% "conversion charge" on the amount you withdraw.

Even so, you'll wind up losing less by getting money from an ATM rather than exchanging currency at the airport or carrying traveler's checks, says Ed Perkins of SmarterTravel.com.

Look for an ATM that's affiliated with your bank, which will probably cut out the $3 to $5 withdrawal fee.

For credit: Most credit cards charge a 3% foreign-transaction fee; American Express tacks on 2.7%.

The only way to avoid paying it is to get a low-fee card. Capital One offers the best deal: no fees for foreign credit card purchases or ATM withdrawals. Credit unions and niche banks often levy lower fees, such as USAA at 1%. Search for more options at cardweb.com.

Do you have an 800-plus credit score? Or have you pulled your score up past 700 after a financial setback? If you'd like to talk about it for an upcoming issue of MONEY magazine, send your name, age, phone number and a few details about your story to imangla@moneymail.com. To top of page

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