Changing Money in Foreign Countries

Changing Money in Foreign Countries

Do you know what’s the best way to go about changing your money when you travel abroad? Forget travelers checks, forget changing your cash at the bank, just go for an ATM machine in the country you visit. Seriously, ATMs are the easiest way to get cash in a foreign country. It’s also much safer to change your dollars into pesos on the Mexican side since ATMs are so numerous.

It’s good to double check the above facts, but in general unless you are going to a backwater country an ATM is very easy to find. Fewer and fewer companies are accepting travelers checks.

Don’t assume your card is the problem though if you can’t withdraw cash from the machine. It could just be communication problems, or the machine could very well be out of money. Try a couple different machines if this happens.

Airports almost always offer money changing services, all be it at an exorbitant exchange rate. If there is no ATM when you first fly in, you can do this to get a little cash to get you to your hotel. Certain countries have issues with accepting cards from other countries, so do a little checking on the government advisories if you think this might be an issue.

Another tip is to watch the exchange rates, perhaps you can get a great deal by changing your money ahead of time, but usually not. ATM’s generally charge a nominal fee, and they give you the exchange rate that the banks close at that day. It’s good to take out money on the weekends since the markets are closed and the exchange rate won’t fluctuate wildly Saturday and Sunday.

Don’t stop in the middle of a crowded street in Mexico City and start wildly commenting about how funny the colors are of the pesos, flashing the 5000 pesos you just withdrew to everybody. That’s not the best of ideas, and yes, we’ve seen it plenty of times. Learning about new currencies is best done in the privacy of your own hotel room.

Do your research for what the exchange rate is before you travel. That way you will understand why the numbers are so high, or so low, on the ATM screen. Always know before you go. Double check the change you get back from the stores as well, if you scream “I’m a tourist” they probably will take you for a sucker and not give you correct change. Very few people will check before they stick the change in their pockets. Once you do that, there’s no way you’ll get your money back so watch out for scam artists.

Seriously, believe us when we say that ATMs are the most straightforward and simple way of taking out cash. Don’t take out more than you will need, but do take out as much at a time as possible to avoid the extra fees. If you are on a tour that is prepaid, you won’t need as much cash on hand. Most countries accept credit cards, so this usually isn’t a problem.

Finally: Always ALWAYS check to make sure they accept cards BEFORE you buy. This will save you hours of dish washing or very uncomfortable situations. Changing money in foreign countries isn’t that big of a deal thanks to globalization. Just use an ATM, use your credit card where possible, and relax! You’re on vacation! Check here for more good travel advice.

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