Europe Getting Cheaper by the Minute!

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We went to Paris last spring to meet up with my mom and aunt who were passing through on their big European adventure.  Miles and points made that trip much, much cheaper than it otherwise would have been, but as my daughter and I prepare to return to Europe with my mom, something else is making this trip even cheaper than we expected.

IMG_0894.JPGYou don’t have to be a rapid CNBC watcher to know that the exchange rate between the USD and the euro has been changing pretty rapidly recently, and this time in our favor!  In fact, the dollar is now at a 12 year high against the euro and getting better by the day.

Just last April on our visit the exchange rate was about .725 and now it is .944, or to put it another way, a 1 Euro = 1.058 USD.  At this rate, many are guessing an even exchange rate coming very soon, and the dollar may even become more valuable than the euro.  In fact, the rate is changing so rapidly that I just recently ordered some euros from my bank (I don’t like to go empty handed) and I’ve essentially overpaid for those euros since the price is dropping so quickly.

All of this means that essentially my USD will go 30% further in Europe than it did not even a year ago on our last trip.  I’m certainly not an international currency expert, but those that are suggest that this trend of a strengthening dollar against the euro isn’t over yet. I’m glad that we only pulled out some cash to go on our trip and that most of our expenses will go on a credit card with no foreign transaction fees in euros to take advantage of the exchange rate at the time of purchase.

For those curious I’m taking the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® as a primary credit card to use on our trip as it has no foreign transaction fees and is chip + pin enabled, which can be quite helpful in Europe. 

All of this means that if you want to stretch your dollar (literally), it is a great time to plan a trip to Europe.  Not only are we starting to see the points cost of some European hotels come down (especially when redemption categories are tied to average daily rates), but now the things that you have to pay for with actual money are going to cost less for us as well.

If all of that isn’t enough to bump Europe on your radar, check out this fare war from today that gives us $629 RT flights to Europe – even for summer travel dates!  For example, here is Dallas – Madrid – Dallas in June for $629 round trip on Delta.

Europe for Less

The sale is not limited to just Dallas as Delta has very good fares out of many American Airlines hubs, and American is offering very good fares out of many Delta hubs.  As always, these fare wars don’t last long so move quickly if you want in on these fares.  Otherwise, of course using miles to fly to Europe is obviously a great way to really keep cash in your pockets.

We have had our airfare to Europe secured for a while now (booked during a similar very good sale), our hotels are all booked on points, and now with our dollar going 30% further than it did last spring we are set for a very nice budget friendly European trip!

Has the strengthening dollar against the euro bumped Europe up on your travel list?  How much attention do you pay to exchange rates when determining where your family will vacation?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Pingbacks

  1. […] For comparison’s sake, I decided to price out alternatives.  A low cost carrier, Norwegian flies from nearby Oakland Airport nonstop to Stockholm.  Oakland is actually closer to where I live, so it’s even better than SFO for me.  The flight is only about 10 hours, and I found summer roundtrip fares not much over $900 for the same time period.  Norwegian is a low cost carrier so the uninitiated could be hit with extra fees, but my family would work around most of those (we’d likely check one bag). Here’s what a sample Norwegian itinerary looked like (note: prices are in Euros, but the exchange rate is amazing right now!): […]

Comments

  1. Leaving to Europe next week for Madrid & Alicante Spain, Paris, France and Switzerland. Flights on business class booked with miles and hotels booked with points. I am using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card overseas. I am glad that my USD will go a long way there.

  2. So happy to see the dollar vs Euro rates right now. We head to Europe in early June so hopefully it holds these rates or becomes even.

  3. Noticed you mentioned ordering euros. I had read to never get them locally because you can just use atm when you get off the plane and pay that exchange rate with minimal markup.

    • Zeke, I still like to go with some in my pocket. When you are only getting a couple hundred dollars to begin with you are talking a difference of a couple dollars. I don’t want risk my card not working, machine not working, etc (both of which have happened to me).

  4. Why not move cash over to a Schwab account with a linked debit card that you can access when you arrive at a bank ATM with the current exchange rate?

    • Tim, I don’t have such accounts. It also really doesn’t matter much when you aren’t getting much cash. I will have a debit card to pull more while there if I need to, but going with 0 isn’t my cup of tea.

      • I just take the couple of hundred in USD. Then, if I can’t get money from a machine in the airport I can just use one of the walk up desks and exchange the cash.

  5. The only caution here is that the fall in the value of the Euro may accelerate social instability. Would recommend that you hedge your trip plans for the possibility of transportation strikes, delays and/or public protests. Have Plan Bs and consider travel insurance. We will be headed in summer through Germany and Austria to Cyprus, then Greece, up the Dalmation Coast and out through Italy and Spain. A good time to be in Europe cost-wise, but on our last trip to Greece we found that social media can almost instantly deliver crowds of protesters on short notice. This can quickly effect access points, transportation timetables, and the like.

    • “The only caution here is that the fall in the value of the Euro may accelerate social instability. ”

      Whaaaat?! The fall in the value of the Euro is amazing for Europeans as it makes their exports much less expensive to others. Just to give an example in the auto industry, Mercedes (BMW, etc.) can suddenly decrease their prices 20% in the US and still come out ahead. The same for many other industries.

  6. I’ve been to Italy 3 times this year so far and I am heading back to Milan again next week. I have been amazed on how cheap food is in Italy now. You can have an amazing meal with appetizer, main course and second course (primo and secondo), dessert and an espresso at the end for less than 20 euros. I also experienced their winter sale where the stores liquidate winter clothes with discounts as much as 70%. The only thing I still find expensive in Europe are the hotels. For example, a good hotel in Milan is not cheap. Places like Spain and Portugal are even cheaper. The only thing I found difficult there was to use our old fashioned US credit cards with the “new” chip+signature technology. What a joke!!!! Europeans and South Americans have been using chip+PIN technology for many years and although you can use the US cards in most places forget about using them on self service kyosks like in train stations. It is very easy to get Euros from ATMs and since I have a bank account that does not charge any fees to use the card abroad it is a no-brainer to get money while I am there at official bank rates. BTW, if you ever shop in Europe, always ask them to run your transaction in Euros. Never let them convert to USD since you will be hit big time on their conversion rates. Let Amex, Citi or Chase do the work for you.

    • Would be happy to hear about “amazing” meals in Italy for under EUR 20 Will be making an annual eating trip there where I and some friends do some amazing eating, but the meals are generally two-and-a-half times that price (of course, 30% cheaper in USD this year!)

      • @LarryInNYC: What I mean by “amazing” meals I am referring to the quality of the food and not on how fancy the restaurant is. Of course if you go to the top rated Michelin restaurant in Milan you will not eat for that price. The point is that there are many restaurants where locals eat and you can have excellent meals for that price. Also, many restaurants offer the “Menu del Giorno” which is the menu for that day. Many business people go out for lunch in Italy during the week and they usually go to places that serve great quality food for low prices. I went to couple of these places in Milan where the place was packed with people wearing suit and tie and you have the regular menu where you can order many options or you can follow the “special menu for that day” where there were 3-5 options for first course, 3-5 for second course plus espresso for 8.5 Euros. I went to a very good restaurant in Milan for lunch and entree of pasta with seafood cost 11 Euros. And that is not “Olive Garden” Italian food :). Also, the more you go away from the big cities the cheaper you will eat. You have to find where locals eat and follow their lead. I went to a very small town in the Piedmont area and had a memorable meal with all the courses for 25 Euros.

        • Great, I sometimes go up to Piedmont (we’re based in Liguria ). May I ask for your recommendation for Piedmont?

  7. It is not only Europe that is on sale right now due to the rising US dollar. How about Australia, Singapore, Japan & Canada to name a few countries that are much more cheaper to visit then in the past.

  8. Please bear and kindly guide me as I am new to this. But how to find out which city is AA hubs and Delta hubs? Any link that I can refer to?

    • David, sure – I think those fares from this morning are already gone, but you want to follow @theflightdeal on Twitter to stay in the loop on these things. Here is also the site where I originally saw those fares. They may be gone, but there are some other good deals still floating around today. Good luck!

      • Thanks so much! but how to know which city is AA hub and which city is Delta hub? like Chicago is Delta or AA hub? I am very new to this so I want to know which hub serve which airline.

  9. I also went ahead and ordered money from AAA (free through them) and just 2 days later it
    went down even further. Its hard to know when to jump on it. We leave soon for a month in Germany which we have been planning for a year and so happy that now since our trip basically went on sale by 25% we will hopefully come home under budget.

  10. We are going to London and Paris in September (flights already booked) should we get our apartment now? As in airbnb/home away or wait another couple months?

    Btw, thanks for the tip on your blog, we snagged 5 rt tickets boston/dublin all on points 125k YES 5 award tickets!

    Our other travel in Europe is on budget airlines and train

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