Travel Money Guide: Europe

Rates and fees last updated on

Planning a Euro trip? Discover how you can get the most out of your travel money here.

In 1993, the nations of the European continent came together to found the European Union. In 1999 the Euro was introduced and old currencies like the French Franc and the Deutsche Mark were phased out. While there are European countries which still use their own currency — for example the Czech Republic and Hungary — the Euro is the national currency of the majority of nations in Western and Central Europe.

Travelling overseas is expensive enough without the added cost of actually accessing and using your money. If you’re heading to the Euro Zone, either for business or for pleasure, it’s worth taking the time to examine the different travel money options available to you. The following article will highlight the travel cards, credit cards and debit cards suited for spending in Europe.

Which option is right for your next trip?

ANZ Travel Card

ANZ Travel Card

  • Load up to 10 currencies
  • Lock in your exchange rates
  • No overseas transaction fees

ANZ Travel Card

The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 currencies to make purchases overseas at over 38 million merchants and over 2.3 million ATMs worldwide.

  • Lock in your exchange rates and know how much money you have to spend
  • No transaction fees for electronic purchases when using foreign currency
  • Multiple reload options - online, over the phone or in person
  • Manage your money online or over the phone 24/7
  • Spare card if in case one is lost or stolen

Go to site

Compare travel cards for Europe

Rates last updated November 20th, 2017
Name Product Description Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
You can load and hold up to eleven currencies on the Qantas Cash Mastercard with a locked-in exchange rate. A travel card to be used at home as well as overseas, rack up Qantas Points on all eligible purchases. Debit cards incur a 1% reload fee.
AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD
AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50
$0
$0
The NAB Traveller Card allows you to load up and lock in up to 10 currencies. Benefit from no fees for reloading funds. Comes with a secondary card for added security.
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD

Overseas: $0 per withdrawal via international ATMs

Domestic: $3.75 fee applies

$0
$0

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated November 20th, 2017
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
The greater of 2% or $4
$0 p.a.
Receive complimentary international travel insurance, access to a 24/7 concierge service and 0% foreign transaction fees.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$0
$0
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$5
Greater of 2% or $4.00
$99 p.a.
Offers an introductory balance transfer rate of 0% p.a. for 13 months with a 2% BT fee, plus platinum perks.
Westpac Lite Card
0% of transaction value
$0
$108 p.a.
Keep credit card costs low with a maximum credit limit of $4,000 and no foreign transaction fees.
Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$5
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
Enjoy a high credit limit with complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$5
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
No fees on overseas ATM withdrawal, no foreign transaction fees and earn 75,000 bonus More rewards points.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated November 20th, 2017
$
Name Product Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Monthly Account Fee Short Description
Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
Mastercard
$0
$2,000
Earn Qantas Points on your account balance 365 days a year.
Westpac Choice
Mastercard
$0
$2,000
Access over 50,000 ATMs globally with no overseas ATM fee.
St.George Complete Freedom Account
Visa
$0
$2,000
Flexible bank account with Visa Debit card and SMS and email alert system.

Compare up to 4 providers

How much Euro do I need to bring?

Wondering how much money to take to Europe? How long is a piece of string. Like anywhere, prices in Europe are varied. Countries like France and Germany are a touch more expensive than places like Greece, but no matter where you are in the Eurozone, your trip is going to be as cheap or expensive as you let it be. For example, shop at Franprix for cheap cheese and wine in France, a delicious baguette is just over 1 euro in price. Alternatively, you can easily spend a couple of hundred euros on dinner for 2 on the Champs Elysée.

Some basic prices across Europe

When it comes to food, if you’re eating in a restaurant, prices will be higher than grabbing a bite on the street, i.e. Gyros in Greece, Trapizzino in Rome or a jambon et fromage baguette (ham and cheese sandwich — far better than it sounds) in France are all less than €5 in price. In most European countries you can expect to pay anywhere from €10 - €30 for a meal in a mid-tier restaurant. Once you hit 5 star restaurants, price is likely to be less of a concern. Prices for staple goods in Western and Central Europe (rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.) are comparable if not cheaper than Australia.

  • Tip: If you’re at a restaurant, the ‘plat de jour’ (plate of the day) will be one of the cheapest and best tasting dishes on the menu.

Accommodation is likely to be your biggest expense when you’re visiting Europe. We’ve included a snapshot of some prices for budget, midrange and top end hostels and hotels in different European countries below.

Greece (Athens)Germany (Berlin)France (Paris)Italy (Rome)
sleepHostel
$15 per night
Hostel
$15 - $20
Hostel
$30 per night
Camping
$12 per night
Hostel
$20 per night
eatGyros (street)
$3
Small beer (supermarket)
$1 - $2
Currywurst (street)
$3
Beer (supermarket)
$2.00
Baguette (supermarket)
$1.50
Cheese (supermarket)
$3
Average wine (supermarket bottle)
$2 - $7
Pizza (restaurant)
$5 - $10
Wine (restaurant)
$5 - $10 per glass
seeWalk around the Acropolis and Parthenon (pay $30 to go inside or enjoy the spectacular view from the outside for free)Walking tour of Berlin
Free (although it’s polite to tip the guide a couple of euros at least)
Get the food items mentioned above and camp at the Champ-des-Mars for a view of la Tour Eiffel.Walking tours of Rome
Free (plus a tip for the guide)

*Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.

Exchange rate history

It’s very difficult picking the future movement of currency pairs. The European Debt Crisis saw the Aussie dollar rise against the euro in 2012. Since then, the euro has regained its value. 1 euro has been worth about $1.4 - $1.6 Aussie dollars for the past 3 years.

YearConversion rate history from AUD to EUR
20120.806041
20130.728778
20140.679508
20150.677914
20160.672243
20170.690959

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 3 September 2017

Travel card, debit card or credit card?

This all depends on where you’re travelling. A prepaid travel card can be a good idea if you’re staying within the Euro financial zone and the United Kingdom. If you’re travelling to another destination like Croatia, the Czech Republic, Sweden or Hungary, for example, you’re better off using a debit card which waives the fee for currency conversion (ATM fee waivers are a bonus too). While there are travel cards which don’t charge you for currency conversion, the back end fees, exchange rate margin and extra account management make a travel friendly debit card such as the Citibank Transaction Account a better option if you’re moving in and out of the Euro Zone. This is in addition to a credit card, which can be a travel essential if you want tighter financial security and flexibility.

Travel money options for Europe at a glance

Have a look at how these different types of travel money product will work in Europe.

Travel Money OptionProsConsiderations
Travel prepaid cards
  • Multiple international currencies load Euros and GBP on most travel cards
  • Currency conversion may apply
  • Conversion fee is almost double the charge than on debit and credit cards
Debit cards
  • A chance for waived international ATM fee
  • No ATM operator fees on European bank ATMs for cash withdrawals
  • International ATM fee and currency conversion fee applies when on withdrawing cash with an Australian card
Credit cards
  • A chance for waived international ATM fee
  • Operator fees may apply
  • Cash advance fees
Travellers cheques
  • Acceptance
  • Security
  • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
  • Not all merchants accept travellers cheques
Cash
  • Payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

Back to top

How do travel cards, credit cards, debit cards and more work in Europe?

Using a travel prepaid card

A travel card can hold multiple international currencies. The main value proposition: use a travel card to spend in a currency already loaded on the card and you save on the fee for currency conversion. You can load Euros and GBP on most travel cards, but few other European currencies will be supported.

If you’re travelling to one of these European countries, consider using a debit card or credit card rather than a prepaid travel card. A currency conversion fee applies if you’re spending in a currency not loaded on the card. In most cases, the conversion fee is almost double the charge than on debit and credit cards. There are less than a handful of countries in Europe that have not adopted the Euro.

  • Latvia
  • Lithuania

Although the United Kingdom is not a part of the Euro Zone, all travel cards let you load pounds sterling. Preload both euros and pounds and you can use the one card to spend like normal on both sides of the English Channel.

Using a debit card

Visa and Mastercard branded debit cards will work throughout Europe without problem. There are fees that come with international debit card use — mainly currency conversion fees and ATM fees — these charges can be avoided by taking the right debit card on holiday to Europe. Debit card providers such as Bankwest and Citibank waive international ATM fees. Unlike in Australia, you’ll find most European banks don’t charge a local ATM operator fee. Westpac also have deals with major European banks allowing cardholders to make cheap ATM withdrawals.

  • Tip: European bank ATMs do not charge a local ATM operator fee when you make a cash withdrawal. Only the international ATM fee and currency conversion fee applies when you withdraw cash with an Australian card.

Click here if you wish to learn about Citibank ATMs

  • ATM partners — why not withdraw for free?
    If you’re a Westpac Group customer, that’s Westpac, St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA, you can avoid the international ATM fee by making withdrawals at Westpac Global ATM Alliance partners.
  • Westpac ATM Alliance partner banks
    CountryBank
    France and ItalyBNP Paribas
    Germany, Spain and PolandDeutsche Bank
    UKBarclays Bank
    UkraineUkrsibbank - Private Bank

Using a credit card

The cards listed below are among the cheapest credit cards to use in Europe, or anywhere in the world for that matter. This is because they do not charge a ‘currency conversion fee’. This is a charge of 2 - 3% (depending on the card provider) charged when you carry out a transaction in a currency other than Australian dollars.

Credit card providers such as 28 Degrees waive international ATM fees (operator fees may still apply); however, using your credit card to withdraw cash will incur cash advance fees and interest as well as ATM fees. You may be able to avoid the cash advance fee and interest charges if you preload your own money onto your credit card. The rules are different for each provider. The catch: you’re waiving certain anti-fraud guarantees when you preload your own funds onto your credit card.

FAQs on our travel money page

Using a traveller's cheques

It is not necessary to take travellers cheques with you on your trip to Europe. Financial institutions offer money back guarantees if you’re the victim of fraud, and there’s a limited number of places where you can cash your cheques.

Paying with cash in Europe

Although the Euro was officially introduced in 1999, European citizens didn’t start to see the new notes and coins till sometime in 2003. The notes are all different colours and feature different architectural designs from different eras.

There are places where you’ll need cash; however, card payments are the norm throughout Europe. Contactless card payments are common in places like France and Germany, but cash is necessary if you’re heading off the beaten track — places like smaller Greek islands predominantly use cash.
european-banknotes

Back to top

Buying currency in Australia

You won’t need euros to pay for your visa when you arrive in the European Union, Australians get an automatic 90 day visa on arrival. If you really want to buy euros before you leave Australia, consider non-bank foreign exchange providers such as Australia Post or Travelex. Travelex lets you order cash online and pick it up at the airport before you leave. These providers don’t charge a commission like the banks; but they do make a small profit by applying a margin to the exchange rate. You can make an ATM withdrawal when you arrive; ATM fees aside, Visa and Mastercard offer some of the best rates for everyday consumers.

Finding cash and ATMs in Europe

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

Never put all your eggs in one basket. A credit card and debit card combination is a good mix to use to access cash and make purchases. A credit card is a must: interest free days give you time to pay back your purchases, some cards offer free travel insurance and credit cards give you peace of mind through access to emergency cash. Don’t use a credit card for cash withdrawals. It’s almost too expensive to justify. Use a debit card or prepaid travel card to withdraw cash.

Back to top

Interview with Marc Terrano about short-term travel money options for Europe

marc-terrano

Where did you visit in Europe?

Marc visited: London, Paris, Rome, Prague, Split, Amsterdam, Munich, Barcelona and Switzerland. He stayed on the continent for a month.

What cards did you take with you?

Why did you take these cards with you?

Marc took the Citibank Plus Transaction Account as his primary travel account to use in Europe. He applied for this account specifically for his trip. He used the Citibank Plus for ATM withdrawals and in-store purchases. Marc had no problems using his card and he used European bank ATMs so he could avoid the local ATM operator fee too. Marc notes that the Citibank Plus card did not have a CHIP (recent issues of this product do have a CHIP), so he was conscious of not using his card to withdraw cash at dodgy looking ATMs. Marc is back in Australia and continues to use his Citibank Plus Account for day to day spending. He likes the fact that the account is low on fees. He’ll be using the Citibank Plus Transaction Account when he goes back to Europe too.

Marc used the Commonwealth Bank Smart Access as a backup card. The Commbank Smart Access account was Marc's main account in Australia before he went to Europe. Marc was topping up his Citibank account from his Commonwealth Bank as he needed more money. He kept the Smart Access card in his passport in case he lost his Citibank card.

What about ATM withdrawals?

Marc withdrew $300 - $500 Australian dollars in Euros each time. Citibank didn’t charge Marc an international ATM fee, and Marc doesn’t remember paying too many local ATM operator fees either.

Could you use your card everywhere?

Marc could use his Citibank card everywhere. He was given the option of paying in Australian dollars in a few places, but he chose to pay in Euros instead. The exchange rate is more favourable paying in the local currency.

What do you think is the best way to travel with money in Europe?

If you’re like Marc and you don’t have a credit card, Marc recommends the Citibank Plus Transaction Account. He also advises that everyone to take a backup. Whether it’s a travel card, another debit card, traveller’s cheques or a credit card, Marc says it’s important to have options.

What are your travel money tips for Europe?

  • SMS alerts. You’re required to confirm transfers between some accounts by entering a SMS verification code. This can be a problem if you’re using an international SIM. Marc spoke to the Commonwealth Bank directly to disable this function while he was overseas.
  • Call your bank. Marc says it only takes five minutes to tell your bank about your travel plans. This stops your bank from blocking your account when you make a purchase or withdrawal.
  • Tipping. Tipping varies depending on what country you’re in. In some countries and in some restaurants the tip is worked in as an automatic ‘service fee’, especially in Italy. Always read the bill to avoid paying two tips! Marc was told to tip 10% if he wanted to, but the service is shocking in some European restaurants so he didn’t always follow this rule.
Back to top

Travel insurance for Europe

Euro-trips and gap years are almost a compulsory rite of passage for young Australians, but don't let your revelling get you in trouble. Covering your European vacation with travel insurance is imperative to ensuring you are financially protected against unexpected travel expenses. Travel insurance may include cover for:

  • Cancellation
  • Lost or stolen luggage
  • Emergency medical and dental
  • Repatriation
  • Evacuation
  • Personal liability

Compare travel insurance policies for Europe today, and find a policy to suit your specific needs.

Made a search before? Retrieve your search results

At least one destination is required
Both dates are required
Add more travellers
Enter the age of each traveller between 0 and 99

Enter a valid email address

At least one destination is required
Starting date is required
Add more travellers
Enter the age of each traveller between 0 and 99

Enter a valid email address

Type or select your destination

Popular Destinations

Americas
Asia
Europe
Pacific
Africa
Can't find your destination? Just type it in the box above.

We compare products from

By submitting this form, you agree to finder.com.au privacy policy

Compare travel insurance for Europe.

Back to top

Other topics you may be interested in:

Europe is a diverse continent rich in culture and natural beauty. Travel for an hour and the people speak a different language, the food is different and so is the architecture. If you’d like more information about taking travel money to specific European countries, have a look at our location guides.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

This page was last modified on 14 November 2017 at 12:12pm.

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, read the PDS or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

25 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    LouisaSeptember 10, 2016

    Hi!

    I’m travelling to UK and Europe at the end of the year, and am considering applying for a Citibank Plus Transaction Account. I’ve noticed when I search for ATMs using the Citibank’s ATM locator (online) there don’t seem to be all that many ATMs in UK/Europe!

    Just wondering if Citibank ATMs are the only ones I can use to withdraw cash abroad (without incurring fees) or whether Citibank has an alliance with other banks which would allow me to use their ATMs.

    If so, which banks/ATMs are these?

    Thanks!
    Louisa

    • Staff
      MaySeptember 12, 2016Staff

      Hi Louisa,

      Thank you for your question.

      Unfortunately, Citibank does not have a bank or ATM partner in the UK and Europe. However, please note that there are no currency conversion fees nor international transaction fees applicable when using the Citibank Plus Transaction account overseas. Citi will also not charge you ATM fees when using any ATM in the world. If you use overseas non-Citibank ATM for withdrawal, the third party ATM operator may charge a fee which Citibank cannot control.

      You may like to use our Citibank ATM locator look for Citibank overseas ATM.

      Cheers,
      May

  2. Default Gravatar
    GregFebruary 16, 2016

    Hi Everybody,
    I’m planning a trip from Australia to six countries in Eastern Europe and only one country on the list accepts Euros. What’s the best cash travel card to withdraw local cash from ATMs?
    Thanks

    • Staff
      SallyFebruary 16, 2016Staff

      Hi Greg,

      Thanks for your question.

      Australian travel cards namely support Euros, but you probably won’t find a card that supports some of the currencies you’ll need in Eastern Europe. If you make a purchase in an unsupported currency, your Euros will be converted into the local currency and you’ll be charged a currency conversion fee. So you might want to select a card that doesn’t charge foreign currency conversion fees. The Commonwealth Bank Travel Money card doesn’t charge currency conversion fees on supported or unsupported currencies. However, this card does charge ATM fees.

      You can compare card ATM fees on our travel money guide, though you’ll find that most cards charge an ATM fee or currency conversion fee when withdrawing funds in an unsupported currency. As such, you’ll want to compare the fees and at least try to find one that’ll charge you the least.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  3. Default Gravatar
    BennyJanuary 4, 2016

    hi there!
    i am really thinking about moving to Berlin to live.
    I have applied for my british passport.
    What long term solutions for money are recommended?
    I have had friends say to get the citibank card and others say maybe get a HSBC account which is international…

    I would like some tips if im thinking of moving there at least 6 months to a year or longer but would also like to travel around europe whilst over there.

    Cheers!

    • Staff
      SallyJanuary 5, 2016Staff

      Hi Benny,

      Thanks for your question.

      As a financial comparison service, we can’t provide any specific recommendations as the ‘best’ option will depend on your financial situation, travel plans and spending habits.

      If you’re interested in either a Citi or HSBC account, you’d benefit from comparing the two side by side and considering the fees, benefits and features of each account to weigh up which one you can both afford and receive the most value from.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  4. Default Gravatar
    chiMarch 24, 2015

    My daughter is going to Europe for first time with packaged tour for four weeks, mainly currency is euro, except Czech republic. What is the best way to manage her spending ?

    • Staff
      ShirleyMarch 24, 2015Staff

      Hi Chi,

      Thanks for your question.

      Please note that finder.com.au is an online comparison service and is not in a position to recommend specific products, providers and services.

      The information on this page outlines a range of suitable options to take and suitable products for Czech Republic can be found here. Your daughter may choose to take multiple products with her to manage her spending.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

  5. Default Gravatar
    cybeleJanuary 15, 2015

    rite of passage (not right of passage)

  6. Default Gravatar
    KerryJanuary 7, 2015

    Hi there,
    If I apply for a citibank plus transaction account, how long will my card take to arrive?
    Thanks :)

    • Staff
      ElizabethJanuary 7, 2015Staff

      Hi Kerry,

      Thanks for your question.

      Your Welcome Pack, which contains your new Visa Debit Card, ATM PIN and CitiPhone Banking Telephone PIN (TPIN), should arrive within five to seven working days after you apply.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

  7. Default Gravatar
    VictoriaSeptember 9, 2014

    When paying for goods or services overseas with Visa credit card or cash card, I am often asked whether I want to pay in the local currency (ie, euros) or Australian dollars.
    Which option should I choose?

    • Default Gravatar
      CarolynJanuary 12, 2015

      Hi there my daughter is 1st time traveller going to Prague with cba cash card loaded mainly euro is it wise to take some local currency will she incur many fees if uses card

    • Staff
      ElizabethJanuary 12, 2015Staff

      Hi Carolyn,

      Thanks for your question.

      It’s really up to you and your daughter whether she wants to take cash as well as the card, although generally speaking it’s usually a good idea to have cash at least as a backup to your card when travelling. In terms of fees, please see this page for the fees that she’ll incur with the Commonwealth Bank card while she’s travelling.

      I hope this will help.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

    • Staff
      ShirleySeptember 9, 2014Staff

      Hi Victoria,

      Thanks for your question.

      It depends on the card that you’re using. If your card charges a foreign currency fee then either option will incur the same fees plus exchange rates.

      However, if its a prepaid travel card and you’ve preloaded Euros, then choosing Euros will probably be the better option saving yourself the currency conversion fee and exchange rates.

      All the best,
      Shirley

  8. Default Gravatar
    RyanJune 23, 2014

    Hi, In Citibank fees and charges it appears there is a 2.5% fee charged to all international purchases. Is this correct?

    The interview with marc claims that no fees were paid with citibank

    • Staff
      ShirleyJune 24, 2014Staff

      Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for your question.

      In the document you’ll notice a small asterisk that indicates that the Citibank Plus Transaction account is exempt from this fee.

      This account doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

  9. Default Gravatar
    BethMay 31, 2014

    I’m heading to Spain and have some large cash payments to make once there (ranging from a few hundred euros to thousands, all within a few days of each other). The largest payment, which is around 5000 euro, can be paid via bank transfer, but the others have to be cash. What would be the best money option – I want a good exchange rate, but most importantly don’t want to be caught out by daily withdrawal limits. If I were to get the OFX card, for example, could I use it to withdraw AU$10,000 in one transaction inside a bank?

    • Staff
      ShirleyJune 2, 2014Staff

      Hi Beth,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately we cannot advise on the best money option. Since exchange rates are also very volatile, we can’t recommend one with a good exchange rate.

      To our knowledge, the Velocity Global Wallet doesn’t have a maximum limit but the maximum balance you can have is $25,000. The Citibank Plus transaction account has a maximum daily spending limit of $10,000 but this can be changed by contacting the customer service team. You’ll need to check the limits on all the products available to you to help you make the best decision.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

  10. Default Gravatar
    KayApril 10, 2014

    How long will it take me to get and load a Qantas pre paid travel money card? I’m leaving Australia on 25 April 2014

    • Staff
      ShirleyApril 10, 2014Staff

      Hi Kay,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately Qantas cannot guarantee the date of delivery for your card. When you apply for it, they’ll send it out to you asap.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

Ask a question