On my last trip to Berlin, I was excited to buy some cool souvenirs for the family members who couldn’t make the annual vacay. When I took my 10 items (everything from gadgets to t-shirts) to the register, the man behind the counter, in a very thick German accent says “that will be $250.” This immediately struck me as strange because not many storeowners will tell you what the exchange price is…let alone know it off the top of their heads. As I looked at the prices on each item and added it up, I noticed that my entire order was no more than €95.25 (€ is the symbol for the currency used by most European countries within the Eurozone called the euro). Thankfully, I found out the exchange rate from U.S. dollar to Euro before leaving for my trip. Since exchange rates are always changing, I thought it was best not to leave anything to chance. I whipped out my trusty iPhone and multiplied 95.25 x 1.4389 (the exchange rate). To my surprise, my total was really $137.06 and not $250! Basically, this fool was trying to rob me!
To avoid being taken to Suckaville, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when shopping in Europe:
1. As of June 2013 (and still effective), the current exchange rate from the U.S. dollar to euro is 1.3123. That means that the euro is worth more than the dollar. If you want to compare exchange rates, it would be wise to do so online before you travel. 2. Use your credit cards—almost all reputable hotels, restaurants, and stores in Europe accept credit cards without any issues. So, if you purchase something in a store, your credit card company will automatically calculate the exchange amount…leaving you free from having to figure out if the store clerk is telling you the truth. Just make sure to tell your bank or credit card company that you’re traveling out of the country or your card won’t work…and that would suck. 3. Use an ATM—if you’re a person who must always have cash in their pocket, using a European ATM is the same as using one in the United States. The only difference is that the money dispensed will be in euros and the fees are NO JOKE! So make sure to take out enough cash and keep your iPhones or Android phones (I’m no hater) handy with an app ready to calculate the rate for you. The app I have on my iPhone is XE currency by XE.com. They always have an up-to-date rate ready for conversion. Follow these helpful tips and you should be able to avoid a one-way trip to Suckaville! Most importantly, you’ll have more money to buy your friends a “My Friend Went to Europe and All I Got Was This Crappy T-Shirt” souvenir!