Navigating Summer Travel Abroad: Tips for Maximizing Your Experience with Foreign Currency

Navigating Summer Travel Abroad: Tips for Maximizing Your Experience with Foreign Currency
Topics Private BankingPrivate Banking for Individuals

As the busy summer travel season gets underway, many of us are planning travel abroad. Whether it’s a European getaway, an Asian adventure, or a South American excursion, it is helpful to understand the foreign currency and common payment methods accepted at your destination.

From fluctuating exchange rates to unfamiliar payment methods, managing your finances abroad requires careful planning and knowledge.

The first step in preparing for travel abroad is understanding the currency of your destination. Research the exchange rates and typical expenses in the country(s) you are visiting. Familiarize yourself with the local costs for meals and entertainment, transportation and tourist attractions of interest.

Tips for Handling Foreign Currency:

  1. Plan ahead and research exchange rates. Similar to prices at the gas pumps and interest rates, exchange rates fluctuate. You can use mobile apps and websites to research and track the exchange rates ahead of your travel.
  2. Call your local bank before heading out of the country. Most U.S. banks will have foreign currency available without charging additional fees beyond the exchange rate. Some less common currencies could require a longer turnaround time, so make sure to plan accordingly. Ask your bank to note your travel plans to ensure that your account does not get “flagged” for suspicious activity while using your card abroad.
  3. Avoid the airport kiosk. It is not uncommon to find airport exchanges charging a significant premium or surcharge compared to what your bank will charge, and some also charge additional service or convenience fees on top of the high exchange rates.
  4. Does your credit card charge foreign transaction fees? Call the credit card company or read the fine print on their website prior to travel. Some cards can charge as much as 3% per transaction. Not all credit cards are widely accepted internationally. Your card of choice domestically may not be accepted at the majority of venues at your destination, and most local establishments may prefer to be paid in their local currency vs. credit cards.
  5. ATM fees and limits. You may want to reach out to your bank and find out what the daily ATM withdrawal limits are on your account and ask if the bank charges fees for using a foreign or out-of-network ATM. Some international ATMs may limit the amount of cash you can withdraw, regardless of your daily limit.
  6. Post travel considerations. Upon returning home, travelers often find themselves with leftover foreign currency. Will your bank allow you to reconvert the foreign currency?

Effectively managing foreign currency during your travels can significantly enhance the ease and enjoyment of your trip. By staying informed about exchange rates, and utilizing the right financial tools, you can minimize stress and limit unnecessary fees.

Planning will allow you to focus on the true essence of travel: experiencing new cultures and creating unforgettable memories. Safe travels!

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