When you go on holiday within Europe, it is easy in terms of money: you pay largely with the Euro, so you don't have to think about it anymore. The charm of changing money before you go on vacation, for example, has disappeared when you go to France or Spain. And the coins that you left at the end of your vacation, which you pasted into your scrapbook, are also a thing of the past. But if you go on holiday outside the EU, you will still have to deal with other currencies, or even completely different payment habits. Like in America. What should you pay attention to when it comes to paying in Las Vegas in particular, or America in general?
Credit card is payment method number 1
Let's start with a bias that also proves to be true: in America you prefer to pay everything with your credit card. You can even pay for your daily groceries in the supermarket or your fast food order with your credit card. We are definitely not used to this in the Netherlands, here you use your credit card only in special cases and usually mainly for online purchases. But a warning is appropriate: additional costs may be charged in America for using your credit card. So no matter how ordinary it seems to pay with your credit card, it can become an expensive affair, especially with smaller purchases. This becomes even clearer when you refuel. This too is often paid with a credit card, but payment with a credit card is subject to different fuel prices than when paying with cash or a debit card (debit card). In America you pay for fuel per gallon (3.79 liters) and the price difference can amount to around 10 cents per gallon. On a full tank this saves a few dollars! The prices that you see on the signs on the side of the road are the cash prices, so you can easily overlook this. If you rent a car in America, keep this in mind.Refueling in America is indeed cheap, but if you pay with a credit card you pay just 10 cents per gallon more. They also try to prevent fraud in America (for example with credit cards). You will notice this at the gas station because when you enter your credit card you also have to enter a zip code. If you do not have a postcode near the gas station, you cannot pay for the pump and you must report inside before you can refuel.
Because you use your credit card frequently in America, it is good to take your spending limit into account. Especially when making a reservation for a car or hotel, they also (temporarily) deduct the deposit from your credit card. This can easily run into hundreds of dollars, and is only released later (after returning the car or when you check out, for example). With one it goes quickly (after we had returned the rental car in 2019, the reservation on the credit card was immediately released), but it can sometimes take days or a week. Of course, you cannot re-spend that blocked amount, so your spending limit will decrease quickly. Often you can increase the limit (online) via online banking (and therefore also via the app from your bank or credit card company). If you are going to the States for a longer period of time, it is handy to do this in advance, thanks to the reservations we had almost reached the limit of our credit card after a week and a half. It is also always possible to transfer money in advance to your credit card, only the processing of this usually takes a few working days, not useful if you need your credit card quickly.It can go fast with your spending limit on your credit card. Fortunately, you can often adjust this yourself online
Paying with your Dutch debit card does not work everywhere
Going to America without a credit card is actually impossible. Renting a car, booking a hotel room and things like that always requires a credit card. And many prepaid credit cards cannot be used for this. So if you do not have a credit card and you cannot or do not want to receive one, it is a challenge to go to America. Because you need the credit card for almost every reservation or booking, your Dutch debit card (debit card) works throughout not many places. So even if you have a world pass with the Maestro logo and you have released it for use abroad, it still doesn't work in many places. Even in 2019, for example, at many McDonalds locations in America you cannot pay with your debit card … We did, however, succeed in most supermarkets in 2019, but, for example, we often did not succeed before refueling. This is not due to your debit card but to the payment terminal where you want to pay at that time, which is then not suitable for payments with a foreign bank card. And although the United States is the largest and most important Western country, it is still surprisingly high places not possible to pin. At least, that was my finding. I had at least once a day that my debit card was not accepted. If you can pin in a store, there is often the option of "cash back", or what we call extra pins. You can then pin extra money which you get in cash. This is often free of charge and therefore a cheap way to get cash. However, the amount is often limited.
Pay with cash
Fortunately, it is possible to pay with cash in many places. And that seems, more than in the Netherlands, still quite normal in America. For example, at most McDonalds locations you can order at a kiosk, but you can then simply pay that order in cash at the checkout. In the supermarket and at the gas station it is actually always possible to pay in cash. At gas stations, by the way, they do it differently than in the Netherlands: you first go to the cash register and pay in advance. The pump is then released and you can refuel up to the amount that you have paid in advance. If you fill up less, you can pick up the change at the cash register after refueling.Paying cash is still common in America, so make use of it! In principle, you get cash in the US, just like in the Netherlands, from an ATM. You will also find an ATM, as they are called there, on almost every street corner. Unless you need one of course, there is none in the neighborhood 😉 Most Automatic Transmission Machines (ATMs) allow you to use your Dutch debit card. However, that does not mean that you have to go anywhere without a doubt. Yes, of course you can and can, of course, but it is not always favorable. Most ATMs charge a fee for debit cards with your foreign card. It is therefore advisable to withdraw larger amounts in one go, and not to withdraw for a few tens of dollars each time, because you pay that fee every time. The fee is sometimes a few dollars, but can easily amount to € 8 per transaction. Incidentally, this is always shown before you actually withdraw money, and you can still end the transaction free of charge. But not only the fairy can be a nice snag. The exchange rate is apparently also a dairy cow for the banks … For us, by the way, the surprise came after the fact, at the end of the month, Rabobank also settled the transaction costs for the transactions. That was just € 30 or something that we could tap extra.
Many ATMs offer you the option of not having that (high) transaction fee paid. Instead, you can immediately pay in Euros. Sounds beautiful? Certainly, but it is actually too good to be true in all cases that I have seen. The exchange rate they use is many times higher than the actual rate. Of course, a bank often uses a price mark-up to cover the risk for themselves. But in 2019 I saw proposals coming up at an ATM that I had to pay more than € 300 for $ 300… While the rate of a dollar has been stable for some time at around 90 cents. That is indeed 10% surcharge! So don't be tempted to accept a high rate in exchange for no transaction fee. Because even though a $ 8 fee is high, at an amount of $ 300 that is not even 3%! So I had the exchange and conversion done at my own Dutch bank, which amounted to approximately 91 cents per dollar, plus a surcharge of 1.2%. For the withdrawal of $ 300, between € 275 and € 280 was calculated, which saves 20 to 30 euros on a transaction. Yes, seriously, that is how much such an ATM machine provider puts in his pocket!In 2019 a dollar is worth about 90 cents. So don't let yourself be kicked off with much higher exchange rates, not even with ATMs! We incidentally came across a Rabobank in addition to the American banks. If you think that is more favorable: unfortunately, they also charge a fee for withdrawing dollars with your Dutch (Rabo) pass. Although that fairy was very reasonable: $ 3. That is one of the lowest I have encountered. Especially in Las Vegas, and especially in the casinos, the fee was sometimes almost $ 10 and it is therefore worth it to pay off the Strip for a while! Incidentally, withdrawing cash with your credit card is also an expensive affair in America . We didn't test it so I can't tell you the exact prices, but you are warned everywhere not to do that. You can better use the cash back system in stores if you need cash and want to withdraw this with your credit card.
Paying in the States: good preparation is half the battle
So are you going to Las Vegas or, like us, having a complete vacation in the United States? Then prepare well in advance. I have listed the most important tips for you: Make sure you have at least one credit card with you and, if possible, adjust the spending limit. Set your bank card for use outside the EU. Know the exchange rate that is currently common and do not accept rates that deviate more than 1 to 2 percent. Check in advance which surcharge or rate surcharge your bank charges. Make sure you have enough cash and withdraw larger amounts at once. Make use of cash back options when paying in stores for extra cash. , tourist places as much as possible if you do not want to pay a ridiculously high fee. In other words: use common sense. It is normal that you pay money for a transaction in a different currency, but amounts of more than $ 5 or more are really ridiculous. On average you pay around $ 4 transaction costs, sometimes even less (but certainly $ 2.50 to $ 3). Unfortunately, you cannot do much about your bank's rate surcharge, except switching to another bank on time.
New payment methods
Where here in the Netherlands Apple Pay is only available at ING, and soon through Rabobank, it is already a widely used payment method in America. You will also find Google Pay, Google's payment service, in many places. Even Samsung Pay is becoming more established. So it's about time that we get more of this type of service in the Netherlands, so that we can pay easily and cheaply, also on the other side of the Atlantic. Please wait …Paying at McDonalds in the US is not possible with a debit card, but you can pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay