The solution I found to remove my bank charges when traveling.
Bonjour les amis ! You’re planning your trip to France and you’re wondering: “How I’m going to pay my expenses during my stay? “How can I avoid taxes when I pay in Euros?” In this article, I’m sharing with you my recommendations for paying in France or abroad with the minimum charges possible. But above all, I am sharing with you the solution that I have chosen for myself and that seems to be the best when I travel internationally.
1. The Eurozone
France is a Eurozone country, which means that the official currency is the Euro. All the prices of the items you can buy in the stores are displayed with VAT included. The price displayed “TTC” – all taxes included – will therefore be the price you will pay. If you are traveling from a country in the Eurozone then you are like at home! This is one of the advantages that we have in Europe: to be able to travel in the countries of the same zone and not to need a bureau to change! In general, you will be able to use your bank card and pay without charges. However, check with your bank before you leave because the conditions can sometimes change from one bank to another and you can also optimize the number of withdrawals and the payment limit.
2. Paying in dollars in France
You come from a country that is not in the Eurozone? Then, you must know that, except for some stores specialized in export, it is not possible to pay in dollars in France or in Europe.
So, the easiest way is to have an international credit or debit card. You will be able to use your card, whether it is a Visa, Mastercard, or AmEx, to buy souvenirs in the stores, go shopping, or simply pay for your train ticket. Depending on your bank’s terms and conditions you will pay charges for these purchases. Further down in this article, I give you the tip I use and that was recommended to me by one of my students to avoid foreign charges.
If you buy small items like a stamp, a baguette, or a bottle of wine 😉 sometimes the credit card will not be accepted by the shopkeeper. So, in these cases, you will need cash.
3. Withdrawing money from an ATM in France
You will find ATMs almost everywhere in France. You can even withdraw money at the post office. The word “ATM” is not known by the French. To ask someone, you can say “Où est le distributeur s’il vous plaît ?”. Once the information is given, then you will have to withdraw your money in cash. Usually, banks also charge fees for ATM withdrawals. To limit the charges, you can select the amount in Euros. Your bank will debit the money, converting the amount withdrawn with the current exchange rate. Withdrawing the maximum amount allowed may be a good solution if your bank charges a fee for each withdrawal made. It will be necessary to watch out for ATMs that charge additional “transaction fees”. In which case you can cancel the transaction and find an ATM that does not charge these additional fees.
4. The solution I found to eliminate my bank fees when traveling.
The solutions I have outlined above are fine. I used to practice them before… But that was before.
Here is what I do now and that allows me to travel without any cost … or almost.
A few years ago, an American student, who came to study French with me, strongly recommended me to use TransferWise to make my bank transfers abroad. At the time, I didn’t know anything about it and I looked into it.
I loved their philosophy and approach: being transparent, no hidden fees, and my money safe and regulated by the National Bank of Belgium.
For the record, the creators of TransferWise were students abroad. They had a lot of trouble transferring their money from their country. They were paying exorbitant fees. That’s why they decided to create TransferWise, now called Wise.
When my American student recommended it to me and I heard their story, it resonated with me. I had also created S.L.Immersion to offer safe, high quality, and fair prices because we are a network of teachers.
So I started to use an account with them as an individual. I quickly opened a Wise Business account to offer our students the cheapest (8x cheaper than a traditional bank), very fast, and secure payment solution. So I have a borderless and multi-currency account that allows me to receive foreign currencies without converting them. This account offers me a European IBAN, a British, Australian, and U.S. account number. And when I travel, I use my multi-currency Mastercard Wise. It’s neon green! Hehehe! It allows me to pay directly in the local currency without any charges. I just have to credit my card and I can use it everywhere. The last time I was in Canada, I was paying as if I lived there… while I was on vacation. It’s really great. I haven’t had a chance to use it everywhere yet because it’s available in 200 countries and in 50 currencies! That’s a lot of travel for me 😉
It’s all my friends, I hope that what I have just shared with you will be useful during your travels to France and elsewhere. Write me (in French) to share your experiences with me. Until your next trip, take good care of yourself!