March 18, 2017
As markets fluctuate daily, so do currency exchange rates around the world. Depending upon the situation, this fluctuation can have a dramatic effect on the cost of your trip. This is important to know before you travel overseas.
It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the types of currency that are commonly used in your destination country. For example, in Australia, coins are used much more than in the U.S. You can see where it can be inconvenient, and even a little embarrassing, to stand at the counter sifting through and reading each coin as the line builds behind you. A simple Google search before you leave the country will help you become familiar with the currency and save you the time and embarrassment while you’re there.
How should I exchange my currency?
Often, you’ll save some cash by exchanging your currency before you leave the country. The first thing to do is check with your bank. Many banks have a program where you can order foreign currency in advance, so you won’t have to deal with exchange overseas. In some cases, this service carries a fee, though, so it pays to give yourself enough time to shop around. You can order cash through a currency converter, which will ship straight to your door, or use a conversion kiosk at the airport. The currency converter will cost more than the bank, and the airport kiosk should only be used in emergencies because it is the most expensive type of currency conversion.
If you need to exchange currency overseas, you should start by trying to locate a branch of your bank or a partner of your bank — that’s where you’ll get the best deal. Many offer low-rate or even free ATM interactions. You can also exchange currency at your hotel or at an airport kiosk, but these will be more expensive.
The most convenient way to pay overseas is to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. This isn’t always possible, however — in some countries plastic is almost never accepted. Again, it pays to do the research well in advance. If you’re traveling a ton, it makes sense to apply for a credit card, preferably Visa or Mastercard, that specifies no foreign transaction fees. This is not a dig at American Express, but Visa and Mastercard are MUCH more widely accepted overseas.
As with just about any aspect of an overseas trip, a little research can go a very long way when it comes to currency exchange. In the short term, knowing the basics of your destination’s currency can keep your trip running smoothly with no hang-ups at the register and no flat-out denials when you try to pay for something with a non-accepted form of payment. In the long term, doing your homework will help keep your expenses down.
Travelers should always check the exchange rate of the countries they plan to visit before leaving the United States. It is recommended that you become familiar with currency denominations and appearance before you arrive into a strange country.See The Rates