If you will be traveling outside of the United States, it's important to have some local currency for the area to which you are traveling. If you are unfamiliar with the exchange rate in the country to which you are traveling, visit the Federal Reserve Historical Exchange Rate website. One factor to consider when you're getting ready to travel is how the exchange rate fluctuates. If you can’t find a convenient location, one of the most important strategies is to take currency in a variety of forms, including cash, credit cards and traveler’s checks.
It's always a good idea to enter a foreign country with at least a small amount of local currency, for such things as taxis and tipping. If you have some time before you need your foreign currency, watch the currency exchange rates.
There are many ways to exchange American dollars for foreign currency, and to convert any leftover foreign currency back to American dollars when you return.
Every international airport has a foreign currency exchange counter where you can obtain currency for every location to which flight service is provided. If you have a very favorable exchange rate before your departure, you may wish to estimate how much local currency you will need for the entire trip and exchange it all at once. Most exchange services will accept cash for conversion to foreign currency, but you can also charge it to a major credit card.
Remember, when looking for a good rate, you want a low exchange factor when trading from U.S. Besides obtaining foreign currency through one of these services, you can usually buy traveler's checks, also. You can also exchange your currency the same day, so if you've waited until the last minute, it's not a problem.
Although airports are also a very convenient way to exchange money, the rates that they charge can be high. In addition, you will have to allow from one to five business days for the currency to be delivered. You may be able to get currency for free if your bank has a business relationship with the foreign bank you choose.
The biggest disadvantage is that, depending upon your location, the bank may have a lot of currencies on hand or practically none.
Some websites offer you the option of picking up your currency at a nearby location to avoid the delivery charges. Two of the most popular websites are Travelex Worldwide Money and Wells Fargo Foreign Exchange Services. Wells Fargo has a rate calculator to help you figure out how much your cash is worth in another currency as well.
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