Using Foreign Currency – tips and hints
Tips for dealing with foreign currency
At home, I use a credit card as often as possible. I almost never use cash because every $ I spend on a credit card = airline miles. It all adds up!
But, when I travel abroad – cash is king.
Using Foreign Currency – Take cash with you.
The exchange rate for buying foreign currency seems to change daily. Do not get so caught up in the ‘best’ exchange rate that you lose sight of the fact that you need cash from the moment you land in your foreign destination.
You never know when the ATM will be empty, or just plain won’t work – just like here in the states. It could be a bank holiday, or the cab driver (and the bathroom) might only take cash.
Do not get caught with plastic credit cards alone.
Some people think, INCORRECTLY, that US money will be happily taken anywhere. That isn’t true and frankly, it is a little bit arrogant, don’t you think? Be respectful of the culture you are visiting and use their money.
Truthfully, the differences between exchange rates are so small that it isn’t worth chasing around a better rate.
The time you waste on doing that is valuable, too.
Go ahead and get money at home before you go.
Using Foreign Currency – Let the kids practice.
You can order foreign currency at the bank. Let the kids earn it by exercising or doing chores.
Kids love to feel grown up and handle money. Get in some practice with your own currency or the one you’ll see during your next trip with this fun idea.
Using Foreign Currency – Call the bank.
Before you go, call your bank and tell them where you are going. This way, they won’t cancel the card 2 days into your trip because they think someone has stolen it.
****UPDATE*** This might not be necessary anymore with the new credit cards with a chip.***
Also, check to see what fees, if any, you will have for using your credit card with a foreign currency.
Using Foreign Currency – NO more traveler’s checks.
Between ATM machines and credit cards that allow you to earn miles for future trips while you spend, traveler’s checks are going the way of the dinosaur. Many stores won’t take them so don’t waste your time.
Using Foreign Currency – Be safe.
Since you’ll be carrying more cash than usual, be safe. Put the money you’ll be spending for the day in an easily accessible pocket and the rest in your money pouch – under your clothes.
Don’t think pickpocketing can happen to you? THINK again….pickpockets spend years practicing on and making money off of people that say that!
Read an interesting article about how pickpockets work here.
Using Foreign Currency – Convert accurately.
Quick!! If the exchange rate is 1.4 US Dollars to 2.7 Yen and the rug you are buying costs 137 Yen BEFORE tax…and you have jet lag…..how much will it cost to buy the rug? Ship it? Carry it?
Don’t worry if your math skills aren’t up to par – you are on vacation after all and….there is an app for that!
There are several apps to help convert one currency for another. Read about them here. This one, Currency Banknotes, is my favorite. It not only converts but shows what the currency looks like. I think the photos help prevent fraud, but it is also WAY cool and kids will love it.
Happy educational travels!