Most clients, having booked an international trip, come to us in the weeks before the trip asking how to deal with different currencies. Proper planning is key to changing from U.S. dollars to Japanese yen, UK pound sterling and Euros without worrying that you’re losing 10 percent or more on the transactions. Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing for trips that require currency exchange:
For starters, you will need to check to see what the average exchange rates are for the nations and regions you’ll be traveling to. Next, review the foreign transaction policies of your various credit and debit cards. Be sure to research potential foreign ATM transaction fees and the presence of their foreign ATMs – which can save on out-of-network surcharges – as well as other miscellaneous service charges.
First and foremost, if you plan to use your debit card in the ATM’s in foreign countries make sure you know your PIN number! It will be required to be able to retrieve currency. You will need to research the fees involved for ATM transactions. For example, Capitol One does not charge for a foreign ATM withdrawal, while Chase charges both a flat transaction fee and a percentage of the entire withdrawal. Once you figure out which of your banks and cards has the most favorable terms for overseas travel, you’ll want to fund these accounts, maybe even asking for a credit line increase, when appropriate. This is all very important because the strategy you’ll likely want to employ for foreign transactions is to withdraw foreign currency from an ATM and using credit cards for big purchases.
To have currency exchange rates readily available, you can download currency exchange apps on your smart phone, making it easy to help you calculate the current value of the dollar and convert the amounts according to the country you are in.
Remember that each time you complete a currency exchange, you're losing something in the transaction. By following the advice below, you can keep this around 5 or 6 percent – or less. But by following for some common currency conversion traps, you could end up paying upward of 10 percent of the money you’re exchanging on the mere transaction itself.
So Arrivederci, Ciao, Adios, Au revoir, Sayonara, Adieu, and Auf Wiedersehen! May you have safe travels and enjoy your trip…. just don’t say goodbye to your money unnecessarily because of inefficient currency exchange practices.
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