Are you planning travel to a foreign country? Unless the United States Dollar is widely used in the country you’re traveling to, currency exchange is unavoidable. Currency exchange is one of those travel expenses that can easily sneak up on you and add up quickly, especially if you’re planning on extensive travel. The following tips, however, can help you cut down on currency exchange expenses:
Skip the airport
While exchanging your money at the airport—whether before you take off or after you land—is certainly one of the most convenient options for exchanging currency, it’s also the most expensive most of the time. If you’re looking to save money and avoid the added expense of currency exchange as much as possible, skip the airport currency exchange kiosks. Instead, opt for the ATMs, whether at the airport or in the city once you arrive. Alternatively, you might want to exchange the money before you leave with a currency exchange service. Although these same companies often boast no fees at airports, the exchange rate is often the worst you’ll find, meaning you’ll receive less for your money.
Find out what currency is accepted
Depending on where you’re traveling to, it might be possible to avoid exchanging money altogether. Find out what currency is accepted in the country you’re traveling to and you might be pleasantly surprised. However, you’ll also want to be wary of this if you’re hoping to save money throughout your travels. For example, if you’re purchasing an item from a vendor that accepts United States currency, you might think you have lucked out. But because you’re not using their money, the prices might be inflated as a result, and without you even realizing it. Do the math to find out what you’re paying and to make sure you aren’t being overcharged, because in a way, it’s like paying an even higher currency exchange rate. You’ll want to have some local currency on hand in situations like this to ensure you’re getting the best possible price.
Withdraw cash from the ATM
Often, one of the best ways to save on currency exchange is by simply withdrawing cash with your debit card from a local ATM once you arrive at your destination. You’ll want to find out before you embark on your journey if your bank imposes any international ATM fees, and if so, what those fees are. Some banks don’t impose these fees, whereas others might charge a percentage of what you withdraw, and some will just charge a flat fee, regardless of how much you withdraw. If it’s a flat fee, try to limit the amount of times you use the ATM by withdrawing all the cash you’ll think you’ll need for your entire trip. If you are being charged by your bank to withdraw cash, be sure to compare those fees to currency exchange fees to ensure you would be getting the better deal by using an ATM.
Take advantage of the many free and useful apps available
There are a lot of apps out there that can give you information on current exchange rates, and best of all, they’re free. With apps like GlobeConvert and XE Currency, you can know for sure if you’re getting a good rate or if you’re paying too much. Otherwise, being unfamiliar with current exchange rates can result in spending more than you need to.
Use a credit card
If you don’t already, consider getting a credit card that doesn’t impose foreign exchange fees on transactions, especially if you travel a lot. Use your credit card wherever cards are accepted and you won’t have to exchange as much cash, which can help you to save on your trip overall. Additionally, carrying around less cash and using a credit card for most of your purchases is generally safer when you’re traveling.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.