With 167 official currencies in the world, paying for things while you travel can become a little complicated. Not only do you have to find places where you can exchange your money for the local currency but you also need to find the best deal. With these tips, you can make your travel funds go further.
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1. Notify Your Bank
Before you leave, let your bank know. If they notice a lot of overseas transactions on your card, they might think that there's fraud involved and may block your cards.
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2. Get a Travel Card
Many banks offer prepaid cards especially for travellers. You simply load your card with a certain amount and can then make withdrawals internationally without having to pay hefty bank fees.
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3. Use a Global Bank
Travel blogger Nomadic Matt points out that some banks operate in various countries or are part of alliances, which means that your ATM withdrawal fees will be lower. Scotiabank, for instance, operates in Canada, the Caribbean as well as several Latin American countries.
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4. Get a No-fee Credit Card
Some banks have credit cards that don’t charge additional fees for international transactions. Ask your bank about the cards they offer.
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5. Increase Your Withdrawl Limit
If your currency is weaker than that of the country you’re visiting, a daily withdrawal limit can make your life very difficult. Ask your bank to increase the daily/weekly limit so that you can withdraw more cash per ATM visit.
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6. Exchange a Small Amount of Money Before You Leave
Before departing, exchange some money for the currency in the country where you’ll be travelling to. Exchange only a small amount, enough for transport from the airport, a night or two in the hotel and a bit of spending money. You’ll get better deals at your destination.
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7. Get a Currency-converter App
The Globe and Mail says that if you have a currency converter at your fingertips, no matter where you are, you can check the official exchange rate and negotiate a better deal.
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8. Keep Tabs on Exchange Rates
If you don’t want to carry a smartphone or other device with a currency-converter app, make a note of the official exchange rate every day before you leave your hotel room. You can even write out a cheat sheet, so you always know what you're spending.
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9. Avoid Changing Money at the Airport or Your Hotel
The mark-up for exchanging money at airports and hotels is usually quite high, so you won’t be getting a good deal if you change money there.
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10. Exchange Money at Local Banks
According to Gocurrency.com, local banks normally offer the most market-related exchange rates.
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11. Withdraw Local Currency at an ATM
ATMs normally offer good exchange rates and are convenient. Besides, most ATMs offer the option of conducting the transaction in English. However, check that you don’t lose too much money on transaction fees.
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12. Don’t Assume That ‘Commission Free’ Means the Best Rates
According to Investopedia, exchange booths that don’t charge commission fees make up for it by offering less favourable exchange rates. Sometimes it’s worth paying the commission fee in exchange for a better rate.
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13. Use Your Credit Card for Large Purchases
Fodor’s suggests using your credit card for major purchases or large bills. This is not only safer but often cheaper because of lower average transaction fees of between 1 and 3%.
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14. Pay in Local Currency
Some hotels and other businesses will offer to charge you in your own currency, which is convenient. However, it’s cheaper to convert the amount yourself and to pay in the local currency.
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15. Don’t Make Purchases With Your Debit Card
According to Fodor’s, you should use your debit card for ATM withdrawals only. If you buy something with your debit card, your account is debited immediately. If something goes wrong, it can take days to rectify and you’ll be penniless in the meantime.
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16. Ask for a Receipt
When you exchange money, especially at a kiosk or small travel agency, ask for a receipt. This will minimize the risk of being scammed by unscrupulous vendors.
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17. Avoid the Black Market
Sometimes the black market may seem like a tempting option for exchanging money but it opens you up to scammers. Besides, vendors often operate on the streets, where everyone, including thieves, can see how much cash you’re carrying and where you’re keeping it.
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18. Carry a Variety of Cards
Carry several different cards, some of which should be Visa and some MasterCard. Not all towns have ATMs that work with both networks.
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19. Carry Some US Dollars
Fodor’s recommends that you carry a stash of US dollars for emergencies. This is the one currency that is accepted and exchanged almost anywhere in the world. Traveller’s cheques are an option for emergencies but they aren’t accepted everywhere.
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20. Plan Ahead
Don’t wait until the last minute to change your money, since exchange rates fluctuate. Check the daily exchange rates and try to change larger amounts on days when the rate is more in your favour.