Traveling abroad, especially overseas, is always exciting, a little bit nerve-wracking, and absolutely captivating. Who doesn’t love those jittery butterflies that you feel in your stomach right before you go on a trip? How about that sinking feeling of anxiety when you realize you have arrived, and nobody is accepting your dollars? Yeah, that’s not a great feeling.
This is just one of the things that you need to prepare for before you go on a trip. The dollar might be recognized globally as a currency, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will accept it. Most people don’t have access to an exchange service nearby. Exchange offices that also offer the shipping of the currency, such as US First Exchange, might be your best bet.
Instead of exchanging your money for a ridiculous rate at the airport currency exchange in order to pay for your cab ride to your hotel room or Airbnb, you might want to go over some tips and tricks. Let’s learn more about the best places to exchange your money before you on a trip!
Your Bank of Choice or Credit Union
This one is a no-brainer. If possible, go to the banks that you have a savings or checking account with. Most of them will happily exchange your dollars for the currency that you need. If you don’t have a savings or checkings account, but a credit or debit card, you might get charged a bit more.
There are a few things to be wary of before you visit your bank. Firstly, they might not have the currency that you need. If you are in a hurry or doing last-minute exchanges, it would be best if you called your bank to order the currency before you get going. Sometimes, banks need to order the currency first since they didn’t have it right at the time of your arrival.
This is an easy rule to follow – before visiting the bank, always call first. Got it? Great! The second thing that you should be aware of is that even if you call beforehand, it might take the bank a few days to get their hands on the currency that you asked for. Euros usually arrive pretty quickly, you can most often pick them up on the same day that you called.
Currencies such as the Croatian kuna for example, on the other hand, might take some more time. This is why your bank or credit union is a great choice if you are traveling and doing all the steps to prepare ahead of time. This would make the second rule of exchanging money at your bank of choice: patience might be needed in some currencies.
Some of us are a bit forgetful, hasty, or pressed for time, meaning that other options without this kind of waiting could be much better. You might just be somebody who is trying to be as responsible as you can before traveling by minimizing contact with other people. This brings us to the next option for exchanging currencies…
Online Currency Exchanges
If you don’t have a bank or exchange office near you, there is a very simple solution. The internet has greatly revolutionized our lives, as well as financial transactions. If you’ve never heard of or used online currency exchanges, worry not. The process is easy and allows you to get your currency of choice delivered right at your door.
Let’s go through how ordering a currency online works. The first step is to find an online currency exchange that suits you and your (currency) needs. US First Exchange is a great choice since they offer full insurance on the shipped currency, no matter what the amount of currency is.
The second step is choosing your preferred payment method. Commonly, online currency exchanges accept payment via money order, bank draft, bank wire, cashier’s check, and debit or credit cards. When it comes to security, you don’t need to worry since these online exchanges make sure that their website(s) have an extra layer of cyber security.
Another option would be to use an international ATM. Even if you’ve never used one, you have probably already seen them on one of your previous trips. There are a few things that you should know before you do that, though. Your bank will charge a fee for using an ATM that is out of their banking network.
It can also happen that you might get charged a percentage of the amount of money that you are taking out. These charges are usually from 1% to 5% of the money that you withdraw. At times, the owners of the ATM might charge another fee known as a flat fee, simply for using their machine.
As you can see, there are a bunch of fees you need to be wary of when you use an international ATM. Another thing to take into account is that there is no guarantee that you will be near one during your travels. Sometimes, they won’t show up on maps, or the place that you are going to is too small and just doesn’t have an international ATM.
This is why the first two options are better than using an international ATM. It’s always better to arrive with cash in hand, rather than relying on the potential existence of an international ATM near the place that you are visiting.
Exchanging Money Before Leaving is the Best Option
When you are traveling abroad, you want to make sure that making plans regarding your money is something that must cross off of your to-do list. Otherwise, you may just need to accept that you are going to exchange your money and lose some in the process due to ridiculous exchange rates. Exchange your money now, or regret it later.
No matter if you exchange your money at the airport exchange office, or a currency exchange office at your hotel – you will walk away with less money than you opted for.
Having a debit or credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transactions fees would be the ideal option.
However, you also need to take into account that there will be places where they won’t accept your card. Having at least a portion of your money in cash is always a must. It’s simply a traveler rule. This way you are making sure that you have a stress-free vacation.