Tips for Currency Conversion in France
When you are planning to visit France probably one of the questions in your mind is ‘what currency does France use?’ The question is important because you will have to use the national currency of France, not American dollars, when touring the country. That is the practice in many European countries, not just France.
So, what currency does France use? The answer is the Euro. In addition to France, 18 other countries in Europe use the euro. These countries form an area called the eurozone with France and Germany as its most prominent members.
History of the euro in France
Like other members of the eurozone, France had its own national currency prior to adopting the euro. It was called the French franc. In 1999 France made the euro its national currency. However, it was only in 2002 when physical euro coins and notes began circulating that France completely stopped using the French franc and began using the euro in everyday transactions.
Currency Conversion Tips for Americans visiting France:
France is one of the most visited countries in the world. Each year more than 80 million foreign tourists visit the country injecting a lot of money in the economies of top tourist destinations such as Paris, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, and Toulouse. A large number of these visitors are Americans.
Like it is the case in many European countries, there are very few merchants that accept dollars when paying for goods and services in France. So tourists have two options. First one is to use their international debit, or credit cards. Second one is to convert their dollars into physical euros.
The first option is advantageous because it is convenient. Most shops and restaurants in Paris and other French towns accept plastic money. However, make sure that your card is either MasterCard or Visa. American Express is not widely accepted in France.
Even if you use your international debit or credit card with cash back offers, you will still need to convert some dollars into physical euros. This is because some merchants don’t accept plastic money. Additionally, there are some services that you may just have to use physical euros. Paying for a cab ride is one such service.
As usual, when making currency conversions, the goal is to get the most euros for your dollars. Here is a look at the do’s and don’t’s when converting your dollars to euros for use in France.
•Convert your currency in French ATMs. They are found almost everywhere in the country. They are locally called distributeurs. Compared to other currency conversion methods, they charge relatively small fees for withdrawals. However, it is important that you inform your bank in the U.S. that you are planning to visit France and may need to make frequent or large withdrawals. This is important because your bank may freeze your account if it notices uncharacteristically large withdrawals being made frequently. Your bank may also increase the amount of money that you can withdraw per day so that you don’t run short of cash at any given time in your visit. In addition, use bank ATMs instead of independent ATMs. It is much easier to get back your swallowed ATM using a bank ATM than when using independent ones.
•If your bank charges a flat fee, make large withdrawals at once to avoid paying unnecessary additional fees that come with making piecemeal withdrawals.
•Don’t convert all your dollars into euros in an American bank before leaving for France. You won’t receive the best rate. Moreover, there is no need traveling with large amounts of money in your wallet. Just convert a few dollars enough for small payments such as taxi ride from the airport.
•Don’t exchange your money at the airport, in bureau de change places, or at the hotel that you will be staying at. The one thing that they have in common is extremely high fees, particularly the bureau de change shops. In addition, they don’t provide true exchange rates. Thus, you end up getting less euros than you would have received from ATM withdrawals.
When visiting a beautiful country like France you are sure to spend significant sums of money because there are just so many interesting places to visit. You, therefore, cannot afford to have less euros for your dollars because of making currency exchanges at the wrong places. To get the most from your dollars, exchange a few dollars for euros before visiting France. Once in France, use your debit and credit cards to make payments and if you need cash withdraw from ATMs rather than exchanging your currency at the bureau de change shops and hotels.