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With just under a week to go until I head for Europe I made an epic faux pas.

Instead of ordering a Visa debit card with 1500 Euro added to it, I have ended up with 1500 Euro in cash.

I cannot take it back to the currency exchange place as they will charge me a fee to put it onto a card etc.

I do not really want to be travelling around Europe with 1500 cash in my hand especially when I will be staying in hostels where it could be stolen.

Is there any Euro cards or banks where I could dump the cash and then access it when I need it ?

I will start my trip in France and will be there for 3 weeks.

Like a temporary bank account?

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Where in the world are you currently? And did you try asking your bank if they offer euro denominated accounts? –  Gagravarr Jun 11 '12 at 10:48
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In Switzerland e.g. you can open a bank account if you have a valid passport. It doesn't matter if you're a resident or not. Additionally, there are some bank accounts that do not have any fees. So this would be a good opportunity for you. –  RoflcoptrException Jun 11 '12 at 10:50
    
im in the UK, I was going to get a Euro Cash Passport card which is a VISA debit card. –  loosebruce Jun 11 '12 at 10:51
    
If you are located in the uk, id just leave some at home. Chances are you will visit eurozone contries in future too. Also, most banks will accept foreign currency deposits (you will lose on the exchange rate - but thats what you get for epic fails!) –  NWS Jun 12 '12 at 11:09
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5 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I am not sure if you can open a bank account in France if you are not a resident. When I stayed in France for almost two years, it took me quite some time to open a bank account, even while working there. Finally I had the best service at the post office.

What might be a solution is to use the gift card of the same post office. These gift cards are international recognized Visa cards. Any surplus after you return could then be spent as if was a normal visa card. You can charge these cards with any number between 40 and 799 euro's. Downside might be that you can't retract money with the cards from an ATM, but you can pay with visa almost anywhere. You could choose to keep some part of your money as cash together with some of these temporary cards.

The nice thing about them is that in case of theft you are insured.

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While it doesn't apply to this case (I don't think opening a new bank account is a good idea just for this), I've actually found the banks to be one of the simplest things about France! The week I arrived I went into LCL and made an appointment, spoke to an adviser within a week, and opened an account there and then. Card sent by mail. <2 weeks to open a new account is not bad. –  Ben Parsons Jun 11 '12 at 15:13
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If you are scared of being robbed, try to put the money onto a card and pay the fee. Consider this fee as an insurance premium. If you don't want to pay the premium, take the risk. By reasonably storing the money, you can reduce the risk of being stolen.

An alternative might be traveler's cheques. They come with an insurance against theft: stolen cheques are replaced. However, traveler's cheques are not well accepted any more. You might encounter difficulties to use them. It is possible to to convert them into cash. But then you may incur fees as well.

I would try to get information on the costs associated with the different options and take a decision accordingly.

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Traveler cheques are from another era, since replaced by the ATM. Seriously, the cost and hassle associated with getting your cheques converted into cash is not worth it anymore. They used to be good, now they are an outdated method. –  Jacco Jun 12 '12 at 12:36
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I would suggest turning them into traveller's cheques. It's not an ideal solution, as they're accepted in fewer places these days, but most hotels will still cash them, so you could do that as you go.

The advantage is that you can register the cheque numbers, and get them insured, which you can't really do with cash. So if you got mugged, at least you can get it back.

Alternatively, spread it around your stuff, separate pockets etc, and just hand over one pocket if you get mugged ;) Fake wallet time!

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I'd suggest you find a bank in your local country, and consider opening a Euro denominated bank account with them. Depending on your other banking needs, you might even be able to get this account for free. Otherwise, you'll likely have to pay a monthly fee, but you'll only want it for a month or two.

(Many banks offer accounts in other major world currencies, but not all. Ask your current bank, then failing that try a few others. As you say you're in the UK, try CitiBank - they charge fees unless you use them as your main account, but lots of people who travel a lot really like them)

Then, when you have the account open, pay the cash in. Finally, when abroad, use the cash card from that account to pay for things in Euros, or take cash out. When you're done with the trip, if the fees are too high, close the account.

In general though, your best bet for spending money abroad is detailed in this answer - get a cash card with no overseas fees and withdraw from an ATM. If you go somewhere a lot, it may make sense to open a bank account in that currency, to avoid exchange rate risks. Depending on costs and the countries involved, that might make sense to be a bank account opening in your home country in a different currency, or in a country in that currency (as an overseas / ex-pat account)

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Just take the cash and put it in the hotel safe when you get there - not likely you'll get mugged in the airport - make sure you have holiday insuarnce that covers cash. After the holiday, bring it home and stick it back in your bank.

Most other methods are not used much anymore in Europe - traveller's cheques/eurocheques/etc - besides, you will lose money when buying/using TC anyway.

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