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How to Get the Best Foreign Exchange Rates When Traveling Each experienced traveler knows it’s important to have money in handy during travels. In general, it starts the moment you land–you’ll need the right currency for taxi fare from the airport, plus tips at the hotel. So, where do you go to find the most attractive foreign exchange rates, and how do you grab them? It’s all an issue of balancing cost and convenience. So what are your options? First off, airports and train stations mostly provide currency exchange desks for converting travelers’ cash. 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. Providing an alternative are the ATMs, where you can withdraw just enough money to reach town.
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Upon getting there, find 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 bank allows you use to use your ATM card on another bank’s machine without cost, then go ahead and exchange all of your cash right there.
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There are foreign banks offering really competitive exchange rates. Some do not charge any fees if customers use certain ATMs while overseas, while other banks do charge for each ATM use. At least a week before leaving, make sure you ask your bank for the names of their international partner banks. Besides fees, banks may also charge a foreign exchange cost, usually a portion of the amount you withdraw). 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. How about travelers checks? Not so good. Note that with a traveler’s check, you are practically loaning the issuer a significant amount – at zero interest. That might be one of the reasons the checks are usually given 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. With no conversion fees, charging larger sums when you’re on your trip couldn’t be simpler. Regular credit cards are, of course, another option, but card issuers usually charge up to three percent for each foreign transaction. In any case, make sure your issuer knows beforehand that you will be using your card overseas. Otherwise, with the sudden appearance of foreign charges, they might freeze your account thinking your card has been stolen.