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Tips for Getting the Best Forex Rates for Travelers Each experienced traveler knows it’s important to have money in handy during travels. 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 all boils down to weighing cost versus convenience. So what options do you have? First off, majority of airports and train stations provide currency exchange desks where travelers can convert money. However, this is the least recommended way of switching money, as commissions and transaction fees are typically high. There are a few desks that don’t collect commissions, but they usually have uncompetitive rates. As an alternative, there are ATMs where you can withdraw just enough cash to bring you to town.
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When you get there, go to a local bank. Their rates are the most current, not to mention most reasonable, and they don’t normally charge a commission. Or, if your ATM allows free use of another bank’s machine, then you can always exchange all of your money right there.
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There are foreign banks offering really competitive exchange rates. Some banks charge no fees if a customer is using a specific ATM abroad, but other banks will impose charges for every single ATM use. A week before you leave, 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. Note that with a traveler’s check, you are practically loaning the issuer a significant amount – at zero interest. That could be one reason you’re given the checks in a nice wallet. They’re secretly hoping you won’t use all the checks and just keep them in your drawer. Finally, among the best ways to get the most attractive exchange rates for travelers is simply carrying a credit card that charges absolutely no transaction fees. There being no conversion fees, you can charge bigger amounts more easily as you’re traveling. Of course, regular credit cards give you another option, but the problem is, they generally charge as high as three percent per 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.