If you are planning international travel in the future, currency exchange can help you travel on a budget or make your trip unexpectedly expensive. You will need to exchange your own country’s currency for the banknotes of your travel destination, unless you plan to transfer money in advance. Regardless of the US dollar strength, you want to ensure that you get the best exchange rate possible. Exchange rates fluctuate from day to day and place to place. So, where you exchange your money and how you do so can make a difference on your travel funds. Follow these tips on getting the best conversion for your buck.
Know the Rate – Before you set off and several times during your trip, find out the current exchange rate. The rate can change daily, so check out the Universal Currency Converter (www.xe.com/ucc) to protect from a bad deal. It’s also important to shop around. Exchange kiosks can vary, so check a few different places before you offer up your cash.
Avoid Kiosks – Avoid the exchange companies in train stations and airports. Although they are convenient and necessary after banking hours, their rates are significantly inflated. If you need to get cash and can’t find an ATM, head to a bank, post office or an American Express office.
Take it to the Bank Use your debit or credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM. You will get the same exchange rates that the banks offer each other, usually without any extra fees. Sometimes banks will charge a fee for foreign transactions, so check with your bank before traveling.
Charge It – To get the best possible exchange rate, use your credit or debit card as much as possible. Keep in mind that when you use an ATM, foreign transaction fees can be $5 or more.
Plan it Out – It’s never a good idea to carry lots of cash with you, but you should have enough so that you can make small purchases, take a cab ride and so that you aren’t forced to make a currency exchange at high rates. If you are looking to exchange, you are more likely to do so in large cities, as small towns may not be able to help you.