It’s been almost a year since the development and expansion of the European currency, the euro. In January 2002, the euro replaced the national currencies of 12 countries. Included are some of the most traveled places in Europe not only for leisure, but increasingly for business also: France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Austria, and Finland.
A traveler can now cross any or all of these borders and use the same currency. Other members of the European Union, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Sweden, have opted to keep their national currencies.
This change of currencies in participating countries makes traveling simple. Today, the exchange rate is almost equivalent to the U.S. dollar, making it easier to keep track of your money. “It’s true the dollar has lost some value vs. the euro this year, but that’s after a long climb up over the past three years,” explains Einar Gustavsson, U.S. chairman for the European Travel Commission. “The dollar is still worth 15% to 20% more today than in January 1999 when the euro was first inaugurated.”
The rate of exchange from euro to U.S. dollars is EUR 1 to approximately 96 cents throughout the 12-nation euro zone. When exchanging small amounts of cash, the difference is insignificant. It is advised, when possible, to exchange larger amounts. In most cases the return will cancel the exchange fee with dollars to spare.
Suggestions for easier exchange access:
Make exchanges before you leave the United States or at the airport, which could prove more convenient than searching for exchange venues in your arrival city.
ATM’s are able to cash out in euro, but check your card’s compatibility with your bank. Note that cash withdrawals from a combined ATM/Debit card and credit card might be charged to your credit card and not taken out of your account. So it’s important to identify which banks and ATM machines will recognize this type of card.
For updated information on conversion and foreign exchange rates, as well as a breakdown of denominations, check the European Central Bank’s Website at www.euro.ecb.int.