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How to Get the Best Foreign Exchange Rates When Traveling Every veteran traveler knows it’s imperative to have cash at hand when traveling. Usually, it begins the second you land–you’ll need the right currency for taxi fare from the airport, and also 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 an issue of balancing cost and convenience. So what are the available options? First off, airports and train stations mostly provide currency exchange desks for converting travelers’ cash. However, this is the least suggested method for exchanging money, as transaction fees and commissions are often too high. There are a few desks that don’t collect commissions, but they usually have uncompetitive rates. An alternative would be the ATMs, where you can get a small amount of cash just to get you into 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. With some banks, there are no charges if customers use a particular ATM overseas, but with other banks, there will be charges for each and every ATM use. At least a week before leaving, make sure you ask your bank for the names of their international partner banks. On top of fees, banks may also collect a foreign exchange cost, which is usually a percentage of your withdrawal. If that is case, it’s better to get a bigger amount with each withdrawal, instead of making multiple withdrawals and paying excessive fees. Unfortunately, while they would have been convenient, hotels are a bad place for changing money as their rates are normally undesirable and the transaction fees sky high. What about travelers checks? Discouraged. Take note, with a traveler’s check, you will be loaning the issuer a substantial amount of money, with zero interest. That could be one reason you’re given the checks in a nice wallet. Their secret hope is that most – if not all- of those checks will go to your dresser drawer, unused. Lastly, one of the best ways to get the best exchange rates when traveling is simply to carry a credit card with zero foreign transaction fees. There being no conversion fees, you can charge bigger amounts more easily as you’re traveling. Regular credit cards are, of course, another option, but card issuers usually charge up to three percent for each foreign transaction. 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.