If you’re lucky enough to be able to travel outside America, then you know just how expensive it can be: not only do you usually have to take time off work, but you also have to pay for the plane ticket, lodging, food, and transportation. And on top of all of that, often you’ll have to convert some of your money to the local currency.
Today we’re going to deal with just that last part: converting your cash to foreign currency. We’ve gathered a few of the best tips to make sure you get the best rates when you convert.
Because of the vagaries of how exchange rates work, it’s nearly always cheaper to convert your money once you’re in the country you’re traveling to. Don’t worry, there will invariably be exchange booths and ATMs at the airport when you land.
While the transaction fee on a currency exchange ATM doesn’t seem like that much at a glance, because it’s applied to every time you take out money, no matter how much or how little, it’ll stack up if you’re constantly running to the ATM during your trip for five dollars at a time. To minimize the fees, take out how much money you estimate you’ll spend during your trip all at once at the beginning instead.
Don’t worry, if you pull out too much you can always just convert it on your way back to the states. Besides, there are other advantages to having local currency on you.
While many vendors in other countries (especially those frequented by tourists) are happy to accept the dollar for purchases, often the price in dollars be higher than that of the corresponding local currency. They do this for two reasons: because they know tourists have more disposable income than locals, and because their exchange rate is higher, they pass that cost on to you, the customer.
While using credit cards can be a tricky business here at home, they’re invaluable when you’re traveling. You do have to do your research beforehand though: some credit cards have foreign transaction fees that will ravage your finances. On the opposite side of the coin, credit cards simply aren’t used that much in many countries. Either way, it pays to do a little research before you leave.
If you feel like you’re low on cash before heading out of the country consider taking out an installment loan. They’re fast and convenient and will get you the cash you need when you need it.