How to exchange currency and save on paying fees

Travelling can be a pleasure or a nightmare depending on how well-prepared you are. Taking beautiful pictures and enjoying foreign cuisine is one side which is rather pleasant. However, there is something else that can ruin your holiday. Currency. You do need to exchange it otherwise you will be helpless.

The exchange rate though can be tremendous and you are going to lose a lot of money paying fees. How to avoid it and to save a good deal of dollars before you set on a journey and after? Let’s try to find it out.

Safe and Beneficial Decision

In fact, there are not many ways to exchange currency. At least, there are not so many safe ways to do it. Millions of scammers on the Internet and numerous sources promise a beneficial exchange rate but in most cases everything ends up in money being lost.

Currency Exchange
Currency Exchange

Thus, your best bet is banks and credit unions. This is where you can find the most beneficial exchange rate as well as the most appropriate fees. No doubts, these institutions are absolutely safe because they are legal and provide legal services.

How about sources like airport kiosks? Well, read on to understand why this is not the best decision of yours.

Getting Prepared in Advance


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If you are one of those people who prefer to plan everything before they go, then you need to know where to exchange currency before you set on a trip. In this case you have enough time to look through the local map and perhaps find several spots with the best currency exchange rates. Some of them are more beneficial while others are really expensive.

As you know a bank or a credit union is the best route to choose. Most of them do provide services of currency exchange in any way possible. For example, you can order it right in the bank. If you still want to save time you can order the service online or by phone and pick the money up later. In most cases a fee is included but it is really low.

In case, you do not accept this variant for some reason you can use a currency converter. This is an online-service which many websites offer. Finding a reliable one is not that difficult but still you should be aware of the scam. The convenient aspect is that websites which sell currency deliver it right to your door. Do not forget that delivery charge is very high, not to mention the exchange rate.

Now about airport stores. Yes, this is a very convenient variant which is also safe and right on the way as soon as the plane touches down. The big disadvantage is that exchange rates are not various at all. Plus, you will pay the highest fees in your life. Please, try to avoid them.

On Spot Strategy

Even though you are not a fan of planning or simply forgot to exchange currency in advance there are many ways to do it. Being abroad you still can get local money. In this case finding a good deal can be less simple though.

Again, remember that the worst deals are at the airport. Just like any other deal at stores or at your hotel. In other words, at any popular tourist location there are no beneficial ways to exchange money. Follow this simple rule.

Instead you can try to find your bank’s ATM network. If you manage to find it, the fee for withdrawing cash is much lower (from 1% to 3%). Some banks do not oblige you to pay any fees at all.

In addition, some banks and credit unions partner with institutions in various countries. If your bank is one of them, you are lucky. The fee rate will also be from 1% to 3%. To check the information about partnership like this you can use your bank’s app.

Exchange Your Money Back

Well, now that you are back home you have some money left. Some foreign money which are useless in your country. What to do then?

Before you leave it is a good idea to check whether your bank buys foreign money back or not. If the answer is no, you can exchange the currency at kiosk in the airport but as you understand it will not be beneficial at all.

In case neither of these works, you may try donating your money. For example, there are international programs in which some of the airlines participate. One of them is UNICEF Change for Good program. They take donations to help children. There are other types of the programs which you can find on the Internet.

Plastic Card Is Your Friend

Using a credit or debit card is a good way to save money. Before you set on a trip try to understand whether the destination is plastic-friendly. In this way you can avoid extra fees.

You can apply for a credit card or debit card and use it instead of cash. However, if you are not a fan of plastic cards you should order foreign currency before you leave. It will also help you save on fees.

These were some of the tips which will let you avoid huge fees and keep your wallet full. Once again, if you want to exchange currency wisely do not forget the following:

  • The best spot to exchange currency is your bank or credit union.
  • Exchanging money in advance is more beneficial.
  • Using ATMs of your institution when abroad is a good decision.
  • Check whether your bank buys foreign currency back.