A tip I always give my fellow friends and anyone I meet is: Always exchange your currency before you leave on your trip. It’s the smartest and best financial decision you can make before you go.
1. Exchange Rates
If you exchange currency at the airport, the rates are far worse. You’ll get less of what you could have if you exchanged back home. Who wants to look for a currency exchange shop or bank in another county anyway? You want to be get out of the airport. You want as much money as possible.
2. Getting ripped off
If you use US dollars in another country, it’s highly likely businesses and restaurants will be ripping you off. Some people are nice to tell you the exchange rate and use a calculator in front of you to give you the truthful amount – but why risk it? I have heard too many stories of others using dollars in Mexico and paying way too much! You’ve been taken advantage of.
3. Caculating yourself
Ok so you think whatever, I’ll calculate the rate myself when I go. Businesses can still tell you a different exchange rates even if you’re in the same country ( I witnessed this in Mexico and Honduras). One restaurant in Mexico used 1:14 as the conversion, another restaurant used 1:12. You can’t really fight them on the issue and why get into a fight in the first place?
4. Making spending easier – especially if you’re drinking
Most people go out for drinks and when you’re under the influence, it’s harder to focus, calculate, or even care how much you’re spending when you’re having a good time. Plus, you see the prices on the menu/check, just pay it as you would regularly and go.
5. Protection of not being robbed
If you start using your US dollars, this makes it very easy for others to know you’re a tourist. And c’mon, you wont be the only person at a shop or a resturant. Others will see you. You never know who you may encounter. The US dollar goes a long way in the world so you don’t want people to know you have them in protection of yourself from being robbed. Example: Leaving your purse at the beach while you go into the water after someone knows you have US dollars.
6. Foreign transaction fees
If you want to use your credit cards abroad, double check if you have any foreign transaction fees and how much they are. One card I saw mentioned in a promotion had a 13% foreign transaction fee attached to it!
Tips- To make life easier this is the best process to get currency changed.
1. Call a bank you use
2. Ask what the rate is and if they have the currency n stock. If they don’t have it in stockz they order the currency within 2 business days to the bank location.
3. Go to the bank and exchange
I personally always use Chase Bank and I only have a credit card account with them. That’s acceptable for them. They’ve always had a better rate than one of those exchange shops (by 3-6 dollars or currency more!)
They had Euros in stock when I exhanged this past Friday. I used them for Mexico and Honduras and had my currency within two business days.
Lesson learned: If you check the rates earlier than the week you’re leaving, you might get a better rate. Change the currency even if its two months before and save it in a safe spot at home. If I exchanged into Euros in August, I would have had about 25-27 more cents to the dollar. I shouldn’t have waited until the last minute! Lesson learned for myself as well.