Whether you’re a novice or experienced traveler, you probably know that whenever you’re abroad, you need to have your eyes peeled for potential ripoffs – unfortunately, you can often meet people who seek out foreigners to take advantage of them, especially if the country you’re visiting is a popular tourist destination. But even without scammers, there are plenty of chances for you to get ripped off when exchanging currency – places like airport currency exchanges and currency exchange kiosks in popular tourist areas often have unfair exchange rates and huge fees for exchanging money. If you want to get the best deal when exchanging currency, here are a few tips:
Know what the exchange rate is before exchanging currency
The first step to exchanging money is to know what the current exchange rate is. This information changes daily and it can be found on business news websites or sites like XE.com, which has currency exchange information for the entire world. When you go to exchange your currency, you will most likely pay a little more than the actual exchange rate because you have to pay for the service of exchanging money, but when you know the actual exchange rate, you can actually see how much you’re getting charged for the service. Some banks and currency exchanges charge just a few cents, which is very reasonable, while many other agencies change huge fees, such as Travelex, which has locations at many airports around the world and charges a 9% fee for exchanges without telling you that the actual exchange rate is much lower.
Use a credit card abroad instead of exchanging money
Many people feel apprehensive about using their credit cards abroad. If you’re one of these people, you might be missing out! Today, there are lots of dedicated travel credit cards that allow you to purchase items in different countries in local currency without any currency exchange or transaction fees. Plus, in many cases, you can earn points on your purchases and avoid carrying large amounts of cash at the same time, which is never a bad idea no matter where you are in the world.
Exchange currency at your local bank
Even though this might seem like an obvious choice, exchanging money at a local branch of a bank where you have an account will often get you the best bang for your buck. Just make sure to call ahead and order the amount of foreign currency you will need in advance, as most bank branches don’t keep foreign currency on-hand.
Use an ATM to withdraw foreign currency
A lot of people believe that withdrawing foreign currency using an ATM abroad and your US debit card is a bad idea since you probably won’t get the best rate but this widely held belief is wrong. Often times it’s one of the best ways to get foreign currency in another country. Sure, you might have to pay a few dollars in fees for using an out-of-network ATM and your bank may charge you a 1-3% fee for a foreign transaction, but it will still add up to one of the best rates you can find abroad anyway.