In our previous post, we discussed some of the dangers of conducting monetary transactions on a trip to a foreign country. In this article, we’ll take a look at the ways in which you can prevent loss of money and get yourself the best exchange deal possible. First, some tricks you should know when dealing with the traditional forms of money exchange: cash, cards and traveller’s cheques.
ATM and Credit Cards:
- Know the exchange rates beforehand – this will prevent you getting ripped off by local agencies.
- Never exchange money from airports, train station or hotels – you’ll inevitably pay a very high commission and get a lower rate.
- As far as possible, exchange money at local banks, or at a local branch of your bank.
- Exchange half your money before you leave on your trip, and exchange the rest of it once you reach your destination. Thus, if the rates go low, you’ll have half of your money intact. If the rate increases, you can capitalize on it with the remaining half of your cash.
- Before carrying cards, alert your bank to your travel plans. Doing so will prevent them from freezing your cards when they see “suspicious” transactions.
- Find out what service and conversion charges your bank levies – some cards are more expensive than others.
- When using the ATM, be aware that you may be paying an international transaction fee. Be aware of your maximum daily withdrawal limit.
- Credit cards usually give you the best exchange value. But watch out for immediate interest charges, know your maximum daily spending limit, and never use a credit card for a cash advance at an ATM.
- Never opt for dynamic currency conversion; instead, ask to be billed in the local currency of your destination.
- These may be the safest way to carry money, but they’re also the most expensive. Watch out for hefty commissions and conversion fees when you encash them.
- A commission-free deal may not necessarily be the best. To offset the loss from zero commissions, you may get a low exchange rate for your money.
- Hunt for the best deal available. Some places offer discounts on commission for students and senior citizens.
Now that you know how to prepare yourself for fuss-free finances abroad, here are some general tips that you should keep in mind – they might save you a lot of trouble and worry!
- Don’t rely on using a signature for transactions. Some countries use chip technology that requires a PIN for all transactions.
- If your PIN is larger than 4 digits, ask your bank if you can get it altered, as foreign ATMs may not recognize more than that.
- Carry contact details of all the financial service companies you’re dealing with.
- Keep in mind the daily withdrawal restrictions in the country you are travelling to.
- Never keep all your cash, cards and cheques in one place. That way, if you go get robbed or misplace something, you won’t lose all your money at once.
- Keep a copy of all receipts to check against your statements
- As far as possible, deal in US dollars. They can get you the best exchange rates, and it is often possible to pay directly in dollars rather than local currency.
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