Exchange Rates and where to Exchange Currency

saving money for travel

Credit cards are a strong form of currency in many countries throughout the World. However, cash is still king in most. Here are some tips on reducing fees and getting better exchange rates when you travel outside of the U.S.

For many Americans, credit cards are the most convenient form of payment and more secure than carrying cash. But, when traveling internationally, your credit card company may charge you for using your credit card abroad. Some card companies will waive Foreign Transactions Fees, so check with your provider.

There are many countries outside of the U.S., especially underdeveloped and rural areas that accept only cash. This means you will have to exchange your native currency to that of the local area. The next question is, do you exchange at home or abroad?

Exchange rates can change daily. It is best to watch rates within a week of your trip to determine where you will get the most attractive rate. A popular site to watch effective exchange rates is

What if you run out of cash when traveling and need to purchase abroad?

  • Additional ATM fees are charged when withdrawing cash in foreign countries. You can reduce these fees by making fewer, large draws.
  • Be sure you know your daily ATM withdraw limit and consider this amount when you convert the local currency. Multiple requests for a draw larger than your limit may cause the bank to place a hold on funds in your account.
  • Avoid exchange services. You will likely find a better exchange rate at a bank.

If your rate at home is attractive, bring more cash than you anticipate spending and save any leftover extra foreign currency for your next trip if you know you’ll be returning soon. Otherwise, you can do a reverse exchange when you get back home, make a donation to a local charity in the country you are visiting, or buy something at the duty free store!