On vacation you will need spending money for meals and entrance fees not already included, beverages, optional excursions, gratuities, shopping, and incidental expenses. As a general guideline, aim to bring a variety of means to “pay your way” for your own convenience, and also in case you have difficulties with your preferred method of payment. Use the following currency converter as a reference to see what the exchange rate currently is set at.
Major credit cards are widely accepted but some shops and restaurants require a minimum purchase amount when using them (so they are not appropriate for incidentals such as ice creams, snacks etc). You might consider bringing more than one card, as some outlets may not accept all types. Due to increasing credit card fraud worldwide, be prepared to show identification (ie. your passport) when making a transaction with your credit card. When your card is being processed, do not let it out of your sight.
For the best available exchange rate, you will find ATM (automatic teller machine) cards indispensable. The Plus and Cirrus logos are now displayed at many ATM locations worldwide. The usual care should be exercised when using ATMs; avoid making withdrawals at night or in unlit areas, conceal your PIN code, and be wary of assistance from seemingly helpful strangers, however polite or well-dressed. In order to safeguard your card details and your transactions, wherever possible use the special security rooms provided by banks for this purpose. A lost or blocked card should be reported to your bank via its 24-hour emergency number for immediate cancellation/replacement.
You may also like to bring some money in traveler’s checks. Should they get lost or stolen, they can be replaced fast, and without loss of funds, if their disappearance is reported within the time stipulated by the company that issued them. Carefully follow the advice of the traveler’s check company; keep your receipt and the list of checks already used in a place separate from the checks themselves. Never countersign a traveler’s check until the moment you use it. Although a secure means of carrying money, traveler’s checks unfortunately are becoming harder to use in Europe. In most cases you will not be able to use checks as cash to purchase items in stores or pay for restaurant meals; instead exchange checks for currency at a local bank. On the rare occasions that you are able to use checks as cash a processing fee may be applied (usually 2-3%). Be aware also that changing Euro traveler’s checks for cash is not always possible, or may incur a substantial fee. It is suggested to use larger denomination checks ($50, $100) because of fixed-rate service charges per check when you exchange for cash.
There is always a fee involved in any exchange transaction; sometimes it is built in to the published rate; in other places, it can be a percentage fee, or a separate fixed-rate commission charge (in which case you receive better value for money if you exchange larger, rather than smaller amounts).