Making financial mistakes and losing funds on trips happens to the most savvy of shoppers. Some people just write it off as a part of the experience, others just don’t realize till its too late and worst of all some may never realize they’ve been made to pay more than they should (legally or illegally).
We consider ourselves quite efficient at taking advantage of travel perks, credit card bonuses, figuring out logistical challenges and fees associated with renting cars, booking hotels, paying visas, the list goes on and on. We too have learned the hard way on occasion and here are some practical suggestions to make sure you don’t get caught unaware that you have spending options.
If you need cash, avoid getting it at Border Entry Points
Airports, Ferry Terminals, Train Stations are some of the worst places to exchange currency because you are a captive market. If you don’t have currency ahead of time and you don’t have a credit card way of reaching your destination from the terminal cash will be at a premium with high exchange rates and possible fees. Other places to avoid are major tourist sections of a city.
If you need to withdraw cash from an ATM use a debit card over a credit card
There are almost always fees associated with withdrawing cash from either type of card, but credit card fees are usually much higher for a cash advance. The limits of credit card withdrawals are based on a percentage of your overall limit, also there is the APR and a percent of the amount withdrawn as a fee. Other fees may apply too. ATM cards normally carry a small per use withdrawal fee and maybe a currency fee,
When you have the option to pay in the local currency or you own, pay in the LOCAL currency
This is really a legitimate scam because it makes the traveler feel safer paying in their home currency amount. However the charge is higher overall because the rate is calculated based on factors other than what might be the official or lowest exchange rate you would find for cash. Therefore it is always advisable to pay in the local currency so you don’t get charged based on an unknown rate.
Always be aware of nearby Banks for currency conversion
This is often an option most people overlook. Banks offer currency conversion even if you are not a member. You need a valid photo ID: passport, as well as the currency and will have to sign a few forms. We used a bank in China across the street from a luxury hotel just recently. The hotel was charging a large commission and the bank too no commission.