I try not to think about the conversion rate because I’ve set my budget (in euros out of necessity). I cannot really cut much more out of it anyway! But seeing the USD price on my ATM and credit cards is a bit painful.
Speaking of ATM, the fee is outrageous from Bank of America. $5USD for a withdrawal. Plus the bank in Madrid charged a fee of about 2.50euro, which I was not warned about. So I paid almost $9 to withdraw about $400. Ouch – UFCU must be better! I’ve found many places will not accept the card for the 20-50 euros I want to charge (I’m just living, not shopping). This means I need a fair amount of cash so I am faced with the unpalatable choices of a) making frequent but small withdrawals and paying lots of fees or b) making infrequent but large withdrawals and carrying lots of cash. The paltry 300 euro I carried around earlier this week burned in my pockets (despite the money belt) so I think I will end up paying the fees for peace of mind…we shall see.
On another money topic, my Discover card was stolen – IN THE US! They emailed me saying to call them immediately. I grudgingly did so, only to learn that my card was used for almost $2000 worth of purchases at grocery and drug stores in Maryland. I find it odd that they have the physical card, not just the numbers. I suspect they got my replacement card (the current one expires in November) but that means they snagged it from the mail, which is bad if they get caught. I used my card the night before I left and believe I stashed it safely at a friends (I didnt bring it to Europe)…unless I was pickpocketed at Fado, which is possible! Anyway, the purchases were obviously out of character and their fraud detection center did a commendable job. The card is cancelled and another one is being sent to my parents (thanks mom!). I face some minor hassles regarding my auto-debits, but much better than paying for someone elses junk!