Durham (North Carolina)
Traveling for the first time ever in Europe... I know I'll need some cash, but how do you guys pay for most of your ventures? Travelers checks? Credit cards? Which credit cards are the best for Europe and what should I know about using credit overseas? What are your best tips?
Forget Travelers checks. Thankfully, they are no longer necessary. Make sure your debit card is with one of the major debit card networks and that your pin has 4 digits, and you should be able to get money at ATM's nearly everywhere in Europe. I think debit cards with Visa or Mastercard are the best. Before you go, ask your bank about using your card in Europe, which ATM's are best, what you will be charged, and tell them when you will be traveling. You will pay fees, but they will be pretty low and you will get a good exchange rate. It's better to take out more money at a time to decrease the fees you are charged. Use Bank ATM's if possible because non-bank ones charge higher fees.
Visa and Mastercards with the new (for the US) chip technology and no foreign exchange fees are the best credit cards to carry. They will give you a good exchange rate and are accepted almost anywhere that accepts credit cards. If you don't already have one, get a credit card that either gives you cash back or travel points or miles. Using an airline card associated with your airline to charge your flight will probably get you a free checked bag and double or triple miles, in addition to other travel benefits. I just got a Barclay Arrival+ credit card that has good benefits, chip technology, no foreign exchange fees and you receive $400 in free travel once you charge $3,000 in the first three months. You simply charge any kind of travel expense on the card, and then you use the "miles" to credit your account for the travel when the bill comes in. "Travel" includes Airlines, Hotels, Motels, Timeshares, Campgrounds, Car Rental Agencies, Cruise Lines, Travel Agencies, Tourist Attractions, Discount Travel Sites, Trains, Buses, Taxis, Limousines, Ferries, and any other charges that are labeled travel by the vendor. It does not include restaurants. You get 2 "miles" per $1 spent. I also have two airline cards (which I used to charge fees for free tickets on those airlines to get the free checked bags) and a Chase Sapphire card, which is a good, flexible travel card.
I kept thinking of something to add, but as I continued to scroll down, John pretty much covered everything. Great answer and fantastic advice from John.