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Travel money in France and Europe

euro noteAlthough travelling across Europe is now much simpler without having to worry about having enough French Francs, Spanish Pesetas and German Marks or thousands of Italian Lira and their associated exchange rates, it can still be something of a minefield using credit and debit cards in the EU – it is difficult to predict what exchange rate the card issuer will use and what other charges may be levied.

However a new breed of pre-paid currency cards are now on offer – these allow you to load a Mastercard or Visa with euros which you purchase in advance, with the exchange rate clearly evident when you purchase or top-up online (cards are also available in US$). There are then usually no or minimal charges for using the card in the EU – both for cash withdrawals and for purchases.
Generally the exchange rate is good compared to buying euros at your local bank or at the airport or a Bureau de Change. And you have the advantage of knowing exactly how much any transaction has cost you.  Check by looking at a price comparison website such as

Using standard credit or debit cards can incur hidden costs, both in a poor exchange rate and transaction charges which only become apparent when you get your next statement”. Cards do vary so check before you leave.

Within Europe Switzerland remains outside the Euro – although many establishments in Switzerland will accept Euros – but there may be additional charges for using any card in Switzerland.

Introduced in 2002 the Euro zone includes Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Spain, Cyprus and Malta

Two of the most popular pre-paid Euro Mastercard/VISA cards are issued by;

Update: article by Paul Lewis  of BBC Radio4’s Moneybox in the Radio Times (18 November 2014) on the best ways to use credit cards in Europe.

Sending money abroad e.g. to pay deposits? Try Transferwise

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See also our guide to Fuel prices (Petrol/Diesel) in France.

B&B Chateau de Lussac

B&B Chateau de Lussac

Stay at a B&B of an elegant Saint Emilion wine chateau at Chateau de Lussac