Getting cash in Europe is relatively easy. With tens of millions of tourists visiting the continent each year, there are many ways to set yourself with local currency for your trip. ATM’s are the best and smartest way for withdrawing money in Europe so do not forget your Debit Card before you depart.
Tip: Using an ATM Debit Card is still the best way of withdrawing money in Europe. You’ll pay withdrawal fees, but you’ll still get a better rate than you would exchanging cash for local cash at a currency exchange rate.
Try to find a debit card that charges low fees for international ATM transactions. You can further reduce fees by limiting the number of withdrawals you make and taking out larger sums at a time.
Not all ATM’s offer the same rate so make sure to check the rate being offered against the current global exchange rate. Check daily exchange rates here.
Finding ATM’s in Europe
Cash machines are plentiful throughout Europe, especially in major tourist destinations. In France, ask for “adistributeur”, in the UK it’s referred to as a “cashpoint”, and a “bankomat” just about everywhere else. Be prepared for small towns and rural areas that may have limited or no cash machine available.
Tip: To avoid being stuck without cash, stock up on cash before you visit the small towns and more rural areas.
You will find cash points scattered all over the city centers, especially near major tourist attractions and main squares. Not all ATM’s are created equal so make sure to take the advice below on the best place to withdraw cash and how to do it safely.
Tip: The best place to withdraw cash in Europe is inside local banks.
Safely Withdraw Cash
Cash machines are straight forward and easy to use in Europe. They always have English-language instructions and work just like they do in the States. Many ATM’s will have a daily withdrawal limit and you may be forced to use another cash point to get the amount of cash you need.
Avoid “independent” ATMs, such as Euronet, Travelex, Moneybox, Cardpoint, and Cashzone. These cash machines are becoming more prevalent in Europe, popping up in many of the major tourist destinations. They have extremely high fees and try to trick users with an outrageous exchange rate. It’s also common practice for these ATM’s to offer only large sums which try and force you to withdraw more than you need.
Note: Independent ATMs are often found next to bank ATMs in the hope that travelers won’t notice the difference. They even have signs that read “Free Cash Withdrawals” — don’t be fooled.