So you're finally going on that dream vacation to that other country that you love, but there's just one problem, right before you go, you realize that your money probably won't work over there and you'll need it exchanged. Follow our tips and advice below to ensure you get the best travel exchange rates.
Obviously you know that most countries don't use the same currency (unless of course you’re in the Euro), but it doesn't hit most new travellers until they first travel. The first thing you could do is convert your money in your home country. Check the rates at your local providers and with your bank. Some upgraded bank and building society accounts offer their account holders preferential rates on holiday money. You might not get the best rates when doing this because they change daily and you will end up traveling with a large sum of cash. In this instance look at a good balance between hard cash and travellers cheques. One note of warning is to never ever exchange money at airport, hotels and other tourist establishments. The rates are notoriously low as they look to snare the captive customer.
What you could also do is look up the foreign exchange rate for the country you are going to before you travel there, so you have a pretty good estimate of what your money is worth once there. Foreign exchange rates do change a little bit on a daily basis but for the most part will remain the same over a few weeks.
The second thing you will want to do is check your credit card and ATM card before you go on your vacation to see what their foreign usage rates are. Visa and Master Card tend to offer foreign exchange rates that are almost half of what you will get by using cash. The latest numbers say 8% compared to 15% for cash. This is a big difference, but there is one thing you have to look out for. Most credit cards do have extra fees for using them overseas so you will need to check those out and know what you are getting into before you go travel.
Additionally, letting your credit card company know in advance that you will be traveling to another country and there will be quite a few charges coming from there is a good idea too. Many credit card companies have automatic fraud detection and will block your credit card until you call them and tell them what is going on.
Once you get the credit card and ATM card situated and you're ready to travel, you just need to know where the best places are to exchange your cash are in the country you are visiting. This can vary from country to country, but for the most part, you will want to stay away from the currency exchange booths near tourist traps. They almost always have terrible rates and some are downright scams.
Want you want to do is again check the rate in the country the day you go to exchange money so you have a general idea what it should be, and head to a large bank or post office and see if they can exchange the money there for you. Typically you will get rates closest to the actual exchange rates at these locations.