Although traveling can be a very fun and necessary part of life, it can also be pretty hectic, especially when you're visiting another country and dealing in their currency. The following seven ways to handle this potentially precarious situation will help make your trip less risky, less expensive, and hopefully a lot more fun.
1. Find Your Preferred Currency Exchange Service Early
Currency exchange services, as opposed to a bank or relying on an unknown service once you reach your destination, are a great way to secure the funds you need for a fantastic, worry-free vacation or business trip and also allow you to plan ahead of time. Shop around for an exchange service as soon as you know where you're going and talk to them in specific detail once you know when you'll be going. Exchange rates can vary from day-to-day but may also reveal longer-term patterns with peaks and valleys an exchange service can help you take advantage of.
Also, be aware of the different types of fees you will be charged when exchanging your money, no matter what company you go with:
- Handling fees may be applied.
- A commission vs flat-fee structure may be available.
- The method of delivery (of your currency, such as ATM withdrawal or wire-transfer) may affect costs.
- Exchange rates can be set or variable, depending on the service provider and may be influenced by current supply and demand.
2. Study The Exchange Rates
Especially if you aren't going to be traveling to your intended destination for some time, it might behoove you to study the exchange rates and perhaps find a pattern, such as an upward or downward trend. If you're certain of your travel plans and can afford the exchange ahead of departure, you should be able to exchange the currency at the most opportune time.
Knowing what exchange service you're going to use will come in very handy, if, for example, you discover a favorable trend in trading and want to capitalize on it. You could save a considerable amount of money this way, provided the market swings at the right time and in the right direction.
3. Know The Foreign Money You'll Be Dealing With
Even with the most competent, friendly currency exchange company at your fingertips, you should still know the money you're going to be handling in the foreign country very well. Tourists, unfortunately, can be the target of the most nefarious types of transactions and if you don't know how to spot the real McCoy in terms of bills and coins, someone could easily slip counterfeits by you.
4. Try To Complete Your Exchanges All At Once
Because you will likely be charged a fee for every currency exchange you conduct, if possible, arrange to exchange a set sum of money all at once. That way, you'll be provided for while you're in the foreign country without having to pay additional fees for any purchase or expense. You'll also be in a better position to take advantage of a good exchange rate if you transfer the money in one lump sum.
5. Make A List Of All Your Important Finance Contacts
Before you jet off to Europe, Asia, or wherever you're going, make a list of the important contacts who will keep you in close touch with your money under any circumstances. Add the numbers in your phone or carry the list with your other vital documents so you can get in touch with your financial representatives quickly, if needed.
6. Network In The Foreign Country If You'll Be There A While
If you plan on an extended stay in the country you're going to, it's a good idea to meet a few people in-person, such as someone from a local bank or currency exchange service. Ideally, the exchange service you contact stateside will have a satellite office where you're going or work cooperatively with a bank in the area. Either way, relying completely on electronic communications and transactions may not be prudent; thus, networking will be beneficial.
7. Have A Backup Plan
If, for some reason, there's a hiccup between you and the currency exchange process at any time, it's important that you have a backup means of paying for yourself. Check with your credit card company and/or bank before you leave so you know your options and can alert them of the authorized use in a strange, far-off location. Although traveler's checks aren't as common as they use to be, they're still considered acceptable currency in many locations, so you might want to look into that as an emergency go-to plan, too, just in case.