Looking for tips regarding currency conversion when traveling overseas? Well read on.
We came across the following article in consumer reports. It gives a good summary of many of the things we advise my clients. It reminds me of some of the typical advice we give our clients.
First, we recommend using the ATM at your arrival airport to get local currency. This is almost always the lowest cost way to get local currency. Sure there will probably be an ATM fee (typically $2- 3). But there's no currency exchange fee and there's no spread between bid and asks rates common with money exchange places. Currency conversion rates are always better at your bank than at money exchanges.
How much local currency you take out is up to you. If you employ the strategy below of using credit cards, you probably don't need more than $100 for several days for two people.
You do want to make sure you use a "reputable" ATM. Makes sure you check for skimming devices. Try to use one listed with banks your recognized. Use publicly located machines with proper security; ask your hotel concierge or local guide where a safe ATM is located.
Second, we recommend you charge as much as possible to your credit card, as long as that card has no foreign transaction fees. Around the world most shops take Visa or Mastercharge. We were in Cambodia and all our meals and gifts were purchased with our Visa. Sure you'll need some local currency for tips or street vendors but there's no reason to get more money than you need. Maximizing your credit card purchases has two other benefits: - it gives you recourse in case of fraudulent charges and it gives you an extra month or so free load. Just make sure you pay off the card every month so you don't accrue late fees or interest. Oh and generally you're better off charging in local currency rather than in US currency since the rates the credit card companies charge tend to be more favorable than local shops.
Avoid money exchange stores as much as possible. Especially at airports. Be aware of the bid vs ask spreads as well as the current exchange rate. Currency conversion costs are the highest at money exchanges
Currency conversion tips
So there you have: use local ATMs for your cash needs, minimize cash by charging as much as possible on your credit cards and avoid money exchange stores like the plague.
Check out other blog posts for more handy tips like: