How to Exchange Currency
Vacationers and travelers to foreign countries need to know how to go about exchanging their hard-earned currency for that of the country being visited. It may seem like a small thing for the experienced traveler, but for anyone starting out on their first foreign excursion, exchanging currency should definitely be on their check list.
Having local currency on hand when shopping or conducting business in a foreign country has its advantages. First, you will be able to buy and pay for goods and services without worrying about getting a fair exchange rate from the local vendors, hotel service staff, taxi drivers, sales persons and anywhere else you go.
Second, openly displaying U.S. dollars in public is an invitation for trouble. Everyone knows that tourists from a foreign country are sure to be carrying lots of cash, which makes them targets for deception and dishonest dealings, if not outright criminal behavior. Being safe in any foreign country requires that you keep your monetary exposure limited to displaying only as much money, preferably in the local currency, as possible at all times.
Third, the old level-1 for travelers, the traveler’s cheque, isn’t all as convenient as cash. Credit card transactions are going to have foreign currency exchange surcharges placed on them, which is going to cost you money, as well. Therefore, it makes good travel sense to exchange your currency at the beginning and at the end of every travel junket.
Here are a few tips to help you exchange currency painlessly.
Where to exchange currency?
Nearly every port of entry will have a currency exchange or two with convenient locations for arriving and departing passengers. Currency exchange kiosks are sure to be found at every International Airport. The are highly regulated and, next to a bank, are the safest and securest location to go to for exchanging currency.
Hotels may offer currency exchange services.
Many hotels in major cities, particularly gateway cities, will offer currency exchange services. You should call ahead to check whether or not the service is offered and how much money you can exchange in a single transaction. Don’t wait to ask until check-in, as you may be disappointed if you are counting on exchanging your currency at the front desk. The wise traveller will always call in advance and see what exchange rate the hotel is offering, as well. It’s a good idea to comparision shop for the best exchange rate in advance.
Banks offer the best exchange rates.
Banks offer the best exchange rate, but are unlikely to do business with you unless you have an account with any bank other than a major one. If you prefer to exchage your money at a bank, you should call ahead to determine if the service is available and if they will transact a foreign currency exchange for you. You would be well-advised to make an appointment in advance if you need to exchange any significant amount of money. An well-place inquiry is always a good idea in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
What denominations should you ask for?
Currency exchanges will gladly provide any denomination you desire, so why worry about it? Well, consider that you have to adjust your thinking about the cost of goods and services in the country you are visiting. Look into the typical cost of everyday out-of-pocket expenses, like tips, taxi fares, the cost of a theatre ticket, lunch and dinner, and so on. If you are planning on doing making any big-ticket purchases, you should have a good idea how much the item(s) are going to cost, in the local currency, before you go shopping. What ever you decide, it’s always a good idea to have a mix of large and small bills so you won’t become a victum of handing a wad of cash to the vendor and leaving the right amount of change to someone else.
Being well informed about the local economy is a good rule of thumb when it comes to loading up your pocket or purse with cash. Just get what you need for your immediate needs and activities.
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