After living in a foreign country for almost three years, I’ve learned a few things about how to exchange foreign currency. Let’s take a look at the best ways to prepare for travelling abroad so that you get the most for your money.
When you are planning a trip abroad, it’s exciting to book hotel rooms, plan your flight, and look at which tourist destinations you’ll get to see. However, before you start all of your planning, it’s important to consider how you will acquire the foreign currency that’s used at your destination. Prior to the onset of technology, many people simply used traveller’s checks, but today there are numerous ways that you can get foreign currency to spend during your travels around the world.
Exchange it At Your Local Bank
If you want to have foreign currency before you fly to your destination, you can always buy it at your local bank. If you use this method, it’s important to use a bank that you already have an account with. This will potentially help lower your fees, although you will likely get an exchange rate that’s in the bank’s favor, not yours. Anything is better than exchanging money at the kiosks located around the airport, however, as they have the absolute worst exchange rates. It’s far better to plan before you go!
Buy Foreign Currency Online
Did you know that you can actually get foreign currency shipped to your house before you fly? Websites like ezforex.com sell it, and they are becoming extremely popular for their low rates and their convenience. You can also purchase it online at Wells Fargo. All you have to do is enter in how much money you want to exchange, pay, and sit and wait for the package to be shipped to your house. One word of warning though: make sure you’re home to receive your mail if you are expecting a package full of currency. Bonus Tip: If you spend $1,000 US on foreign currency at Wells Fargo, they will ship for free. That means more savings for you!
Use a Credit Card
Many credit cards automatically calculate exchange rates for you, and you can use them wherever major credit cards are accepted. The smartest way to utilize this tip is to get a credit card that waives all foreign transaction fees, otherwise, you could be paying more than 3% on every purchase! That can definitely be an unwanted surprise when you open your credit card bill after a nice, long vacation. So, to avoid that, here are some ideas for cards that you can get: Capital One regularly waives foreign transaction fees, and Bank of America, American Express, Citi, and Chase also offer cards with waived foreign fees. Just make sure to read the fine print when applying for one of these cards to be sure that it does in fact waive these fees, as many companies offer a variety of different cards.
Withdraw it From an ATM
Many banks, like Charles Schwab, allow you to withdraw cash from any ATM in the world without charging you a fee. This is a great way to get the cash you need immediately in a currency form that’s compatible to your destination, and is perhaps the most convenient way to get money when traveling so that you have cash on hand for quick snacks or taxi rides. You can also call your bank and have your daily withdrawal limit raised if you need to make a big purchase. Bank of America also allows you to withdraw cash without a fee as long as you are at an affiliated bank, whereas Charles Schwab allows you to use any ATM and still get their perks.
Use Travelers Checks
As previously stated, travelers checks are mostly antiquated and might not be accepted everywhere you go. They are, however, a good, safe backup if anything happens to your other funding sources, and you can get them from any local bank.
Know Your Exchange Rates
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do when travelling abroad is to do your research and know your exchange rates. That way, if all else fails and you are unable to exchange your money before travelling abroad, you will be knowledgeable enough to bargain with foreign banks, taxi drivers, and currency exchange booths to get the rate your deserve.
Have you ever travelled abroad? What type of currency did you use? How did you use it?