Today’s currency markets are volatile and vary according to many factors, including world events that have an impact on exchange rates. Bear these kind of situations in mind when you come to change money before or during your vacation. If there is an election coming up just before or during the time of your vacation, it might be best to exchange in advance. Currencies are always moving in uncertain political times.
France has had the euro as its currency since January 1st 2002, when it replaced the old franc. The eurozone in Europe now includes most of Europe, though remember that the UK, Switzerland, Denmark, and Sweden still use their own currency.
The most popular currency pair is the EUR/USD – how many dollars purchase one euro, reflecting the fact that these two are the world’s two largest economies.
How the Exchange Rate will Affect You
If the U.S. dollar dips in value and is worth less in euros, American travellers will have to fork out more cash for hotels, dining and shopping while in France and in other European nations. Any trip to France means considering the issue of euro vs. dollar. The situation is similar with the GBP in the U.K. and the exchange rate.
A traveller visiting France in fall of 2000 got plenty of bang for the buck. At an all-time low of 83 euros to the U.S. dollar, a greenback went much further than it does today. A lot has changed since then.
Plan your Trip
If you have a trip planned soon, there are some tactics you can use to ease the pinch:
Prepare your vacation budget assuming the worst. Look at the latest exchange rate and add 10 percent to be safe. That way you won't come up short, or come home broke. And if the situation is better, that is more money for gourmet meals and souvenirs and there is plenty of opportunity for those in France.
Exchanging Dollars for Euros
Be sure you are getting the best exchange rate. You will find exchange companies at the airport, but these do not offer the best rates and will also charge you a fee, so only use these if you need euros when you arrive in France and are not sure how easy it is to obtain euros immediately once there.
If you can do this in advance, change some carrying cash at your bank. Be sure to contact them a couple weeks ahead of time, since some banks need to order currency particularly in smaller towns. Also check their rate and fees, though the rate will vary daily.
At the ATM
Usually the best way to get euros is by using your ATM debit card when you get money processed immediately at a fair rate. But remember that you will probably be paying the ATM transaction fee. Also you will find that an increasing number of banks charge a fee for any international transaction you make.
You should check in advance whether it is better to use your debit card or your credit card as the charges will vary. Check with you bank and credit card provider to see what their policy is before setting off.
Avoid using a bureau de change as their rates will be less favourable. Also avoid changing money at your hotel unless you can easily see what their rate is. Usually this will cost you more.
More about Planning in Advance
Save on Accommodation
Search that much harder for bargains in lodging, which can often be the biggest expense. A slight jump in the euro's value could hit your wallet hard. Perhaps you could book a modest room at a good hotel that you really want to stay in or is nearer the centre of town, then when the date gets close and you find that rates are more favourable you can always ask to switch to an upgrade.
Follow this advice and you will, hopefully, have more money to spend on that great French vacation!