A strong dollar and robust competition among European airlines are making this summer one of the most affordable times to travel across the pond in years.
How you choose to pay for that trip, however, can have a big impact on its total cost. A new analysis by WalletHub finds that consumers who pay bills with a credit or debit card will enjoy significantly better exchange rates than those who change their money at a bank or Travelex office. (Travelex is the largest foreign exchange bureau in the world.)
The exchange rate on debit and credit cards during the survey conducted last week averaged 1.0895 euros to the dollar, nearly 10 percent better than the 1.1955 offered by Travelex. That means that consumers who use a no-fee credit card could save nearly $350 on the average $3,251 cost of an international vacation.
Exchange rates offered by banks and credit unions were higher than those offered by Travelex, but lower than those offered by credit and debit cards. Banks offered a slightly better exchange rate (1.1511) than credit unions (1.1579), but had higher fees. Even the banks and credit unions with the best exchange rates could not beat those offered by credit and debit cards.
In addition to making your purchases with a no-fee credit or debt card, the experts at WalletHub recommend bringing a debit card that has low international withdrawal fees and notifying your bank of your travel plans to avoid an unnecessary fraud alert and freeze.