When travelling internationally, a question commonly comes out: which is better, exchanging money when you arrived at your destination, or exchanging money before you leave? There doesn’t seem to be a straightforward answer as this question continues to boggle travelers to this date.
While there is no exact science as to tell which approach is the best for all situations, here are some reasons why it may be better to exchange money before travelling:
- Variety of options
When exchanging money to the currency of your chosen destination, you generally have two options: either through your bank, or through a money changer. Unless your bank has branches in your destination, your option abroad is more likely limited to their local money changers.
What’s great about exchanging your money before you leave is that you are offered a variety of options. You can check out your banks if you have an account with different banks, or you can check out different money changers to see which one can give you the most value for your money.
If you do this ahead of time, you have no pressure in taking your time to search for which option can offer you the best rate. Meanwhile, if you do decide to exchange money when you arrive, then you might feel the pressure of having to exchange in the first money changer you see so that you can have money to spend on cash transactions.
- Knowledge of the location
By planning to exchange money before travelling, you are able to allot time to research before making a decision. And you will also have knowledge of your different options because you know your hometown. You may even be aware of money changers that are not listed online. You will also know which places are a bit sketchy, so you would likely avoid going there.
Meanwhile, you would have limited to no knowledge of where money changers are in your place of destination. You may rely on money changers in the airport or in the hotel, or you may accidentally be led into a money changer in a high-risk area.
By exchanging money at home, you are more confident because knowledge is on your side.
- Withdrawing money abroad is risky
If you are not keen in bringing money with you when you fly out to another country, you are likely thinking that it is more convenient to just withdraw from an ATM abroad. While to some extent, this is true, it also opens you to some risks.
If you have an account in a smaller bank, chances are that your ATM card is not compatible with the ATM in your destination. Check whether your card has international arrangements. Aside from that, some cards have restricted access in certain countries. Your bank may also block your card for multiple international withdrawals if you have not been able to inform your bank ahead of time.
Relying on withdrawing abroad is also risky as your card may be misplaced or stolen, or if there are no ATMs accessible to where you are going. It is therefore essential that you keep some cash with you before leaving.
So, is it better to exchange money before travelling?
The reality is that there is no single answer to this question. What’s best can be seen on many different vantage points such as exchange rate and risk, among others. But given the variety of options available for you when you try to exchange money before leaving, and that you are limiting the risks involved with using your cards internationally, then there is a lot of merit in exchanging money before travelling. The choice is ultimately up to you.