How to Get the Best Foreign Exchange Rates When Traveling Every expert traveler knows it’s vital to have cash available when you travel. Generally, it starts as soon as you land–you’ll need the right currency for taxicab fare from the airport, as well as for tips at the hotel. So, where do you go to find the most attractive foreign exchange rates, and how do you grab them? It’s all a matter of weighing cost against convenience. So what are your options? For starters, airports and train stations normally have currency exchange desks for travelers to convert their cash. However, this is the least suggested method for exchanging money, as transaction fees and commissions are often too high. While a few desks don’t charge commission fees, their rates are usually less desirable. Providing an alternative are the ATMs, where you can withdraw just enough money to reach town.
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Upon getting there, find a local bank. Their rates are the most recent and reasonable, and you normally don’t pay a commission. Or, if your ATM lets you use another bank’s machine for free, then exchange all of your money through it.
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There are foreign banks that offer great exchange rates. Some banks charge no fees if a customer is using a specific ATM abroad, but other banks will impose charges for every single ATM use. A week before you leave, ask your bank for the names of their international partner banks. Besides fees, banks may also charge a foreign exchange cost, usually a portion of the amount you withdraw). In such a case, it’s better to extract a bigger sum of money each time you withdraw, instead of paying too much in fees for two or more transaction. Unfortunately, no matter how convenient, hotels are just a bad place to change your money, considering their poor rates and sky-high transaction fees. How about travelers checks? Not recommended. Remember, with a traveler’s check, you are lending the issuer a lot of money at zero interest. That could be one of the reasons these companies provide the checks in a nice wallet. Their secret wish is that most of those checks – if not all – will stay in your dresser drawer. Finally, among the best ways to get the most attractive exchange rates for travelers is simply carrying a credit card that charges absolutely no transaction fees. With no conversion fees, charging larger sums when you’re on your trip couldn’t be simpler. Of course, regular credit cards are always an option, but they tend to charge a lot for foreign transactions – up to 3% each. In any case, be sure to tell your issuer in advance about your plan to use your card outside the country. Otherwise, with the sudden appearance of foreign charges, they might freeze your account thinking your card has been stolen.

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