Currency Exchange and Solutions for Expats
Posted by The Expatriator
Information on exchanging currency from sterling and dollars to euros for expatriates living in Spain.
ATM Machines: This is the best way to get dollars from a foreign bank account to euros, as long as your bank doesn’t charge a ‘conversion fee’ for international use, and the ATM doesn’t charge a transaction fee. (ATMs from cajas tend to be less likely to charge a transaction fee than bank ATMs). With ATM machines, there is currently no spread between buy and sell rate. My bank in Canada charges $5 for each foreign withdrawal however.
Bank transfer: This is the best way if you need more money than an ATM machine can manage. See Banking.
Personal checks: In our experience, Spanish banks charge a minimum commission of .5% to transfer money via a foreign check, and it could take a few weeks. (Before you deposit the check, make a copy of it and the deposit form.)
Traveler’s checks: With a big spread between the buy and sell rate, this isn’t as good as ATM’s.
Credit cards: with travel insurance, purchasing insurance, no transaction fees and reasonable exchange rates, credit cards can be very effective for most purchases. You will have to show the cashier your passport or Spanish photo ID (if you have one) in order to use them.
Note: Since 1999, some banks began charging fees of 1% - 3% for use of a credit card on overseas transactions. Read your monthly statements!