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The topic of currency exchange and cash withdrawal is one which many travelers think about at some point in the trip planning process, but which sadly often ends up being one of the biggest mistakes of the entire trip.
Why is this one might ask? Simply put it is a transaction which ends up costing lots more than it should. Many people lose money when exchanging cash at home or abroad because they don’t know the rates or assume that the rate and commission they find is the only one available.
This tip will explain some of the best ways to avoid these ‘black holes’ that can minimize or even ruin your vacation budget.
Where all the money usually goes
Many people think its good to exchange cash at home in banks. This is a terrible idea, rates are often not good and fees are usually high. Next, the biggest transactions go down in the airport of arrival and of course the banks and exchange offices know this and they are in the business of making money, which unprepared travelers are willing to pay for convenience sake. Airport exchange offices in the majority of cases have lower rates, or even if they appear to have the official rate will often have commission charges, hidden fees and will result in one losing lots of money. If one absolutely must exchange cash, exchange just enough to get into town and from there seek out a bank or exchange office with better rates and no hidden fees. Always have the teller confirm with a calculator the final amount they are giving you and make sure it matches your calculations.
The Power of the ATM card
The best way to avoid all of these financial twists and headaches is to remember first and foremost the power of an ATM card. This standard card issued by banks is more often than not the securest way to a good transaction and rate. We recommend it as a primary option for getting cash abroad. First be sure you have sufficient funds in the linked account. Second call your bank while still at home and have them authorize the card for the countries and dates of your trip. Third bring the card with you and be sure you have the banks phone number with you as well.
How to best use it
ATM cards will often give you the official rate plus a fixed withdrawal fee. In order to avoid paying this fee over and over, calculate what you will need for the trip and withdraw all at once so as to only pay the fee once. Use the ATM card in the airport or in the city, but only go to official machines with the name of a bank on it. General ATM’s not associated with large or any particular banks don’t have the same fees and assurances. Always save your receipts and check your bank statement online as soon as possible in order to confirm you were charged the correct amount. If not call you bank and take action. Too often one can be tempted to just let the money fly while on holiday, not to bother, but a little bit of planning goes a long way to ensure you get the most out of the hard earned money you’ve saved in order to enjoy your time out seeing the world.