The Eurozone binds 17 European countries, including popular travel destinations such as France, Italy and Spain, into a common currency. While the still-expanding Eurozone is eliminating the curiosity and novelty of dealing with a multitude of currencies while traveling in Continental Europe, the common currency has also eliminated the headaches of calculating multiple conversion rates.
Look up what the standard exchange rate is for one euro into US dollars and one US dollar into euros. The rate offered to by banks and exchange kiosks will always be at least a little less advantageous than the standard rate, but knowledge of that rate helps evaluate how economical a given service is. The IRS recommends three websites for this information: xe.com, oanda.com and x-rates.com.
Fees and Conversion Rates
Call a bank and inquire about fees and conversion rates for using an ATM in a foreign country. The most common way for a traveler to convert dollars into euros is to make an ATM withdrawal using her American debit card, converting the dollars in the account to euro cash on the spot. However, the bank may have terms that are less advantageous than using an exchange kiosk.
Request a four-digit ATM PIN from a bank before departure, and also notify the bank of the travel plans. Most banks block international transactions without prior notification, and most European ATMs only work with four-digit PINs.
Airport Exchange Kiosk
Step into an exchange kiosk at the airport after arriving to inquire to look at the posted conversion rates and inquire about fees. Compare this to the information provided by the bank about ATM withdrawals, and decide if converting cash and/or traveler's checks at the kiosk offers a better deal. Exchange money if necessary or prudent. Check again at least one more time during the trip with an exchange kiosk in the city, since they sometimes offer better deals than the kiosks at heavily trafficked airports.
Put an ATM card into a European ATM, just as at home. Almost all European ATM systems offer a selection of languages, including English, so navigating the options (which are usually limited to just withdrawals anyway) will pose no difficulty. Enter the four-digit PIN and withdraw the money needed.
Things You Will Need
ATM card with four-digit PIN
While it remains a wise travel precaution to carry a reserve of cash and/or travelers checks for emergencies, the convenience of using an ATM to convert dollars into euros makes it the main choice for most travelers in the Eurozone. Only if your bank's conversion terms are disadvantageous should you resort to relying on bringing sufficient currency with you and converting it on the spot.