If you are traveling to a foreign country, most likely you will need to acquire some local currency. From going to your bank, to using a local currency exchange company, to using your credit card, there are many different ways to put this new money in your pocket. Then, of course, there are the questions of how to keep this new money safe and what to do with anything you don’t spend.
To help ease your worries, we’ve pulled together the 10 best tips for currency exchange. By following these tips, you can be sure that you will have the best experience with your foreign money.
Part One: Exchanging Your Money
Tip #1: Know the Exchange Rate
This should go without saying, but always make sure that you have keep up to date with the current exchange rate. While most exchange rates do not change drastically from day to day, if you are heading to a country that is experiencing large fluctuations, it can drastically affect how much money you are changing and when.
Tip #2: Beware of Convenience
Hotels, airports and banks offer exchange services that are fast and convenient. They also usually carry the biggest price tag. Your best exchange rates will usually come from using your credit card, an ATM, or a reputable currency exchange company.
Tip #3: Know the Hidden Fees
While an ATM can be a great place to get the best exchange rate, your bank may charge you an extra fee for using your card at a different bank. Always ask your bank or exchange company about the fees that are associated with foreign currency exchange. The fees might make a seemingly cheaper option turn out to be prohibitively expensive.
Part Two: Keeping Your Money Safe
Tip #4: Don't Make Your Money Easily Accessible
Carrying your wallet in your back pocket or keeping your purse unzipped may work just fine when you are at home, but these practices make you easy prey for pickpockets while traveling. Use a cross body purse (that is zipped close) or a belt bag to keep your money close to your body at all times.
Tip #5: Divide and Conquer
It is wise to never keep all of your money and your cards in the same place. Keep some in your bag and some in your hotel. You can even divide up your money and cards into different areas of your body (i.e. some in your purse, some in a belt bag, etc.). This way if you lose any (or get pickpocketed) you won’t lose everything.
Tip #6: Use the Safe
Many hotels have a safe on the property. It is very wise to store all of your money and valuables in the safe, except what you need for that particular day.
Part Three: The End of Your Trip
Tip #7: Make Use of the Airport
If you find yourself with leftover currency, treat yourself to an airport shopping spree. Stock up on snacks for the flight or buy some last minute gifts. And always consider being generous with your tips.
Tip #8: Create Souvenirs
Foreign money can be a great souvenir for any of your trips. Consider saving it in a scrapbook to remind yourself of a fun trip.
Tip #9: Save it for Future Trips
If you travel often (especially to the same area of the world), try saving any leftover money to take with you on your next trip. Just make sure you remember where you keep it!
Tip #10: Exchange it Back
While you will most likely lose some money exchanging the currency back into your native currency, if you have a large leftover sum, you can always take your money to your bank or a reputable currency exchange company.