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28/04/2008 – Foreign Currency Exchange : Get The Most Value For Your Money
When traveling internationally every traveler would ideally like to maximize their currency exchange. No one wants to lose money, and depending on where you exchange your currency, the value of what you are exchanging can vary significantly.
Overall the best exchange rate is often found with purchases made by credit cards. Some cards offer a “foreign currency fee,” many do not. These fees can generally be between 1.5% & 3%. Consult with your credit card company before using your card overseas. Also contact your credit card company before using your card internationally, some cards are blocked from overseas usage without prior authorization.
In my experience using American Express overseas provides the most protection and service for international travelers, however I have found that Visa is the most commonly accepted card internationally. For U.S. and Canadian Discover/Novus card users, leave your card at home. Except for limited use in Mainland China (not Taiwan or Hong Kong) you’ll be hard pressed for find any place that accepts your card outside of the US and Canada.
For the exchange of actual cash, you’ll find the best exchange rate at a large international commercial bank, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), HSBC, etc etc. By visiting these banks in a city (and not all branches will do currency exchange) you can get a much better exchange rate than visiting a currency exchange booth at the airport. Often visiting the “national bank” of the country you are visiting, such as the Deutsche Bank when seeking Euros (€), or HSBC when seeking Hong Kong Dollars (HK$).
If you have the time to wait, you can also get excellent exchange rates purchasing your foreign currency prior to your travel. In the United States check out Wells Fargo’s Exchange Services or Travelex Worldwide Money. These two services have very competitive rates for those who have a few days to wait before they depart for their journey. Using these services are easy, order your foreign currency and it arrives via FedEx.
If you must exchange your currency at the airport, and it happens, it is best to find a currency exchange at your departure airport, and often prior to security, to get the best rates. After security the rates are less in your favour. Upon arrival in your destination country, before you exit custom/immigrations, even less in your favour and in your destination airport after you exit customs/immigrations……….the worst exchange rate for travelers when exchanging currency in an airport.