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What Are the Best Places to Exchange Money When Traveling?
Traveling is one of the most beautiful ways to put your soul and mind at ease. The traveling process can be a bit stressful, from picking a destination to organizing your traveling plan. Still, all of the stress is usually worth it once you have finally arrived at your destination. Nothing beats that sweet sigh of relief once you have unpacked your bags, ready to relax.
Depending on where you are traveling to and traveling to multiple countries, there might be an extra step that you need to take before you can fully let loose and enjoy your holiday. Ideally, this is a step that you do before traveling to your destination, but this isn’t always possible.
For example, you might travel to a country with a currency that you cannot get in your home country. Even though no matter where you will travel to, the locals will have a pretty good feeling of how much a U.S. dollar is worth – you can’t count on people accepting your U.S. dollars. Here, we will go through some tips and tricks to find the best exchange rates while traveling.
The Worst Places to Exchange Currency
Before you exchange your money, you need to know that you are getting a good exchange rate. Most commonly, your financial institution of choice (your bank or credit union) will offer the best exchange rates. But what can you do if your bank or credit union does not offer the exotic currency you need?
First things first – do not exchange your money at an airport exchange. Airport exchanges are notoriously known for offering the worst exchange rates. These exchanges maximize their profit by offering the worst rates.
Why? It’s simply their business model. They know that the usual tourist needs to exchange at least a portion of their money for paying for a bus or a taxi to get to their place of holiday residence.
If possible – avoid the airport exchange at all costs. Sometimes, you might even run into a few locals hanging around the airport preying on tourists or travelers in a rush to get to their destinations. They might offer to exchange your dollars for you, and you might be tempted to say yes for the sake of simplicity.
This isn’t recommended (obviously) unless you are, rushingly, looking to exchange ten to fifty dollars, and you know the exact exchange rate, especially if you are exchanging a large sum of money or don’t know how their exotic currency fluctuates.
There are many tourist traps related to money, so doing a bit of research about the tourist traps that are the most common in the country or countries you are visiting would be a smart idea, too.
Again, if possible, avoid exchanging money with random individuals at the airport. While you are trying to negotiate the rate with one person, another person might swoop in, take your whole wallet, and you can say goodbye to your relaxing holiday and hello to the ultimate vacation nightmare.
Best Exchange Options and Other Alternatives
A prevalent method of handling money while in a foreign country is using a credit or debit card. There are a few flaws or downsides when using a card that you should be aware of. You might get charged odd exchange rates or added fees while using your credit cards to purchase things while traveling.
Before you go on your trip, you might want to check how they handle exchange rates and fees with your bank or financial institution. Check specifically for “no foreign transaction fees.” If your financial institution of choice does not offer this – look for one that does. There are still a few downsides to this method, even if you do get a card with no foreign transaction fees.
You might need to wait some time for this card to arrive or to set up an account like this, and you’re already almost out of the door. Meaning that the card won’t arrive in time, making this whole ordeal pointless. Well, your next trip might be less of a hassle money-wise, but you are looking for an exchange solution right now.
When you use your card to purchase things, know that you might run into odd exchange rates since they are usually regulated by banks and currencies’ general supply and demand. However, these aren’t nearly as bad as airport exchanges or other (sketchy) ways to exchange your money.
Using a card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees can ease your mind – until you travel to a country or visit a place in the country that doesn’t accept cards; cash only. If you have never traveled to a less developed country, you might be surprised that most of them don’t have widespread card payment processing.
Some might take U.S. dollars in cash, but that’s definitely not a universal rule. Ordering foreign currency online solves this problem since you will have the cash that you will need in hand before even arriving at your destination. You do need to pay attention that conversion sites and online exchanges can have different delivery times – so you need to plan this out according to how fast they can deliver to you.
These services are usually very safe since they tend to offer insurance on shipping any amount of currency. By ordering foreign currency online, you eliminate any stress at the airport, and you won’t have any unpleasant money-related surprises while traveling.
Getting Currency Shipped to Your Home Is the Easiest Solution
Ideally, you want an exchange service that is looking out for your best interest. You want a service that offers the (exotic) currency you need for the best possible rate while being reliable, convenient, and fast.
If you want to have your exotic currency already with you before traveling to your destination, you might be interested in exchange services that ship out the currency directly to you. By now, it should be obvious that the easiest and most effective solution is having the currency already in hand before you even think about boarding a plane.
Since exchange services are continuously “upping” their game in terms of quality of service, you might want to consider an exchange service that ships the (exotic) currency in need directly to you.