Tips from The Women’s Travel Group to Be a Smart Banker of your own money.

To feel in control before leaving home. Some women like the idea of having money on hand when landing in a foreign country. I am one who usually takes out in local currency $100 from Chase. You usually have to order foreign money 48 hours ahead. Ask for unmarked/undamaged bills. Marked bills are hard to convert overseas.

Buying currency in an airport. Most airport exchange bureaux charge a set fee. The fee is the same for a small amount as for a large amount. If buying a small amount of currency, your fee as a percentage of money, can be penal. Example: Change $50 into Pounds and pay the $20 fee? Change $250 into Pounds and pay $20 fee.

Most non airport exchange bureaux are on main tourist streets. If possible, avoid airports to get a better deal. Shop around for general pricing before buying. 

In some countries you can buy currency from the Post Office.

ATM’s are your best bet. Use them any day but Friday when banks might hedge against weekend changes. You must tell your bank you will be using an ATM card overseas. Their rates of exchange are usuall fair. Check fees and rates anyway.  Bank debit cards work in ATM’s abroad. Some credit union cards do not.

Never change left over currency from one country to a third. Example: you have Euro’s left over and want to get Indian rupees in a London airport. You will be hit with high double costs+fees with Euros into Pounds into Rupees.  

Use a credit card rather than cash for purchases. Visa is the most used overseas. Discover rarely and Amex accepted in N. and S. America but less in Europe, Asia. Overseas, some vendors and restaurants need a PIN to charge on your card. Ask your bank for a PIN even if one is not needed in the US. The waiter will come to your table with a hand held card machine and ask you to put in your PIN.   Or just to sign if Amex.

Using unmarked US cash to buy jewelry in rural Ethiopia.
Shopping with US cash in rural Ethiopia

Make yourself a dummy chart to view when paying with money overseas. Here is one you can practice with.

Look at pictures of foreign money on line. You really do not want to be cheated with old money, useless today. Here is the information for instance from the Central Bank of Germany.

Use your phone calculator or plug into google if you have wifi. Do not feel rushed!

Finally, when in countries with high inflation, like Argentina, bring $US in cash. You will get a much better rate.

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