Traveling Tips – How to Get Competitive Forex Rates
Every expert traveler knows it’s vital to have cash available when you travel. 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 should you look for the best foreign exchange rates, and how do you get to them? It’s all a matter of weighing cost against convenience.
So what are the available options?
First off, airports and train stations mostly provide currency exchange desks for converting travelers’ cash. This, however, is the least advised method as commissions and transaction fees are often excessive. You may find a few desks that charge zero commissions, but their rates tend to be uncompetitive.
An alternative would be the ATMs, where you can get a small amount of cash just to get you into town.
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Upon getting there, find a local bank. Their rates are the most recent and reasonable, and you normally don’t pay 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 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, though they would have been so convenient, hotels are plain bad in terms of changing money, with their poor rates and through-the-roof transaction fees.
As for travelers checks? Discouraged. Take note, with a traveler’s check, you will be loaning the issuer a substantial amount of money, with zero interest. That could be one reason you’re given the checks in a nice wallet. Their secret wish is that most of those checks – if not all – will stay in your dresser drawer.
Lastly, carrying a credit card that charges zero foreign transaction fees is one of the best ways to access the best exchange rates. As there are no conversion fees, charging bigger amounts when you’re traveling couldn’t be easier. 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, you could end up with a frozen account when they think your card has been stolen, with all the foreign charges suddenly popping up.