Here’s the how, when, where, and how much with exchanging currency
It’s never the most exciting part of planning your travels, but it’s always important. Exchanging your money for the correct currency can be a nerve-racking endeavor. You’re unfamiliar with the legal tender, know that the exchange rate always changes, and don’t want to risk that hard earned money you’ve been saving up for this specific occasion. Don’t fret! Here’s a quick how, when, where and how much on exchanging currency during your travels.
BEFORE YOUR TRIP
To let you feel prepared when you first arrive at your destination, many travelers like to exchange their currency before they leave for their trip. If you feel this necessary, we suggest $100-$150 in foreign currency for those first 24 hours.
UPSIDE ~ This will allow you to stop worrying whether the ATM in the arrival airport will be working, or you’ll make it in on time to catch the local exchange bureau. We suggest performing this currency exchange at your local bank, and then attempting the airport. With the local bank you may be able to have the exchange fees waived depending on your account.
DOWNSIDE ~ You generally won’t find the best conversion rate at your home bank. With this and both fees and commissions, you will spend much more exchanging it at your home bank than when you get to your destination. If you are traveling through major international airports in a large city, it is more than likely that there will be several ATMS and change counters, so it may not be essential to exchange currency before you get there.
A universal currency, a Traveler’s Check can be a back-up source of money. If you would like to use this form of money for your travels, bring only what you feel would be necessary for back-up, and don’t look to use these as your first option.
UPSIDE: Traveler’s Checks supply a great form of security. If lost or stolen, they can more often than not be replaced within 24 hours. If you do decide to use Traveler’s Checks, make sure you find out beforehand where close vendors may be that you know you can cash them at.
DOWNSIDE: You will not find a preferred conversion rate when cashing your traveler’s checks. You may have to pay commission fees, shipping charges, and/or conversion fees. Furthermore, Traveler’s Checks are almost accepted NOWHERE. As a declining form of currency, many merchants do not feel comfortable accepting them as payment or for exchange.
CALL YOUR CREDIT AND DEBIT CARD ISSUER! Before you depart for your trip, make sure you call your issuing bank to notify them of your travels. Regardless of where you’re traveling, each bank has different flags that will trigger a hold on your account. The last thing you want after several days’ worth of travel is your ATM card to be declined in the airport. A quick call a day or 2 before your trip will save you a world of hassle.
WHEN YOU’RE ABROAD
You will find the best exchange rates for the local currency once you reach your destination. The best exchange rate will also coincide with the easiest means of getting cash via an ATM. You will usually receive a 2-7% better rate from an ATM over exchanging cash or a Traveler’s Check. Unless you know the next section of your trip will most likely have limited ATM’s, take out enough money to last you a day or 2. Keep this cash separate from your ATM card and easily accessible.
Debit vs. Credit Cards
DEBIT CARDS ~ Having your ATM card is ideal for withdrawing currency. For your day to day expenses, try to use cash instead of the debit card. Handing over your card to a merchant may lead to much higher international and conversion fees than what you would be charged when processing a withdrawal through an ATM machine.
CREDIT CARDS~ Your Credit Card will be best used for larger purchases; airfare, hotels, car rentals, large dinner meals. With the use of your credit card, your expense will be exchanged at the interbank exchange rate, usually the best rate you can get for currency exchange. Even though some credit card issuers will charge conversion fees, they are generally lower than any fee you would endure by exchanging cash, or your traveler’s checks.
Try to keep these as back up if you decided to travel with them. As most merchants will not take them, you will find much higher exchange rates, and very few places that will cash them for you.
WHEN YOU HEAD HOME
With any of your miscellaneous cash left over, you should be able to find a vendor in the airport to reconvert the money.
QUICK TIP! As Starbucks are now on every corner in every country, find one in the airport before you leave, and fill your refillable Starbucks card with that last extra cash. There are no fees for adding to your card, and that extra you saved from not exchanging can be a wake-up latte during your layover!
Make sure to keep an eye on your statement. You’ll want to catch any unauthorized charges right away, and you won’t want to miss paying off those international transaction fees.
Get that money back!
Don’t hesitate to contact your Yampu Travel Consultant with specific questions on your upcoming trip.