Money on Tour
We recommend getting a credit card that can be used to get cash from an ATM, but with parents’ ability to monitor transactions (and cancel in the event of a lost card) from home. Amex, Visa and Mastercard are accepted pretty much everywhere. Discover is gaining acceptance in Europe, but not accepted everywhere. Discover recommends having another type of card, just in case.
Important note: You MUST contact your bank and/or card company so they’ll know the dates & countries on the Tour. That way, they won’t deny the transaction which they might think is “suspicious” if transactions are seen in Germany then Austria only a few hours later.
Using a credit or debit card at an ATM will be the easiest and fastest way to get cash. Every place we’ll visit has ATMs, and the Staff will help students find them.
We’ve found that cards with the Mastercard, Visa and American Express logo almost always work.
Gift cards WILL NOT WORK OVERSEAS
Like anywhere, please be extra careful with your card! Keep the card in a safe spot so you’ll ALWAYS know where it is, and hide your PIN entry from other people’s view. Also, be sure you concentrate while you’re at the ATM …. if you enter the incorrect PIN twice, there’s a risk that the ATM will keep your card; if it’s after business hours and the Red Tour is leaving that town, you may lose your card and need to figure out what to do for the rest of the Tour.
Amex, Visa and Mastercard are accepted pretty much everywhere. Discover is starting to be accepted, but not everywhere. Discover suggests having another type of card when traveling internationally.
Look for a card that does not have an ATM transaction fee. Also check to see if the card charges for foreign transactions. A lot of people have had success with cards from Capital One and Chase. Check with your current bank/ credit card issuer to see what they have to offer.
Nerdwallet info on No Foreign Transaction Fee cards
SECRET and IMPORTANT MONEY SAVING TIP: If you want to avoid paying interest on the ATM cash advance (which can be substantial!), overpay your credit card with the amount of money you want your child to have just before the tour starts.
We DO NOT advise getting a prepaid “Gift Card” – as most of them work only in the US and NOT overseas.
For pocket-money it’s generally best to get about 75€ – 100€ and about $20 – $30 in any other European currency you may need. That way you can purchase things as soon as we arrive without having to look for an ATM.
You should also bring about $20-$30 in US cash. That way, you will have some American money at both ends of the Tour and it can be exchanged, if necessary, in Europe as well. You’ll need US money to buy food and stuff at the airport before we leave.
If we are in Switzerland for more than a day, you should get Swiss francs. If we are spending just one day in Switzerland, where we’ll only be at the hotel and airport, don’t bother getting Swiss francs – they will be happy to take your euros or dollars.
In the US – PLAN AHEAD to get your European currency. Many area banks can get you currency, but it will take at least 2-3 days and maybe up to a week. Your local bank manager can give you details. Chase, Wells-Fargo, Bank of America and M&T banks also are easy places to get currency, and American Express Offices usually have it on hand – but call ahead before you make a last-minute trip. Many banks will also allow you to order currency online. If you are a member of AAA, they can get you currency.
It is possible to get foreign currency at the airport, but they usually charge more than your bank and if there is a lot of traffic on the way to the airport on the day we depart, there may not be time to visit a currency exchange kiosk.
When in Europe, using a credit or debit card at an ATM is the easiest and best way to get cash. In a pinch, can also get cash at banks and at the front desk at most hotels, but they usually charge a commission or have a poor exchange rate.
Nerdwallet Information on getting Foreign Currency
There are a number of options for wiring money -: Your bank, Western Union, Transferwise, World Remit, etc. Check on the fees and exchange rates – They vary widely.
In some locations, the person receiving wired money must be 18 years or older. If your child is under 18, please contact a director first to make the arrangements. You’ll need to send the money to a staff member who will sign for the money and then give it to the student.
Find out where the money is to be picked up. For example, in Westendorf – the wired money goes to the Post Office, not one of the banks. The Westendorf PO is only open from 8 am- noon on weekdays.