5 Tips For Exchanging Currencies

Foreign currencies – An aspect of travelling that is usually overlooked! You would be surprised by how much money travellers lose for not planning ahead. We too have been victims of bank fees for using our cards abroad, or have had to exchange cash at horrendous exchange rates. 

After travelling to many different parts of the world with very different payment requirements, we have learned a couple of useful things when it comes to money. Here are our key 5 tips to making the most of your money when travelling with foreign currency:

1. Never leave it last minute

This, often, is the biggest mistake that travellers make when visiting a foreign country. 

Firstly, exchanging money at the airport is a HUGE mistake as this is where the exchange rates are the most expensive. 

A good place to keep an eye on currency rates is Google or live Currency Converter sites.

Secondly, you should always research in advance if, where you are going, is common to pay by card or if most places take cash only. 

You shall ask yourself questions like: Does this place have cash machines I can easily find and use? Does my bank charge a fee for using my card abroad? Will I be able to exchange my local currency there?

In addition, having enough time to exchange cash in your home town will allow you to compare exchange rates from the different exchange houses and get the most out of your money. If you are travelling to an exotic destination, you will most likely have to order the currency a couple of days in advance; as many exchange houses only have in hand the most common currencies like Euros and US dollars; or those of their neighbour countries. 

2. Exchange a good portion of the money at the destination country

While you might be able to find some very good exchange rates in your home town, we have found that the best rates are almost always at the destination country. So, try to leave part of your cash to be exchanged at the destination – This is especially useful for long trips!

3. Always carry some local currency in small notes

Even if you decide to exchange part of the money at the destination country, you should always exchange some cash before you travel and ensure that these are given to you in small notes. This is because, in many places, when you arrive at the airport certain transport methods (like buses) only take cash, don’t give change, and so on. It is always important to have emergency cash on you.

4. Ensure the notes given to you by the exchange house are not damaged

Something we learned the hard way is that many times, exchange houses try to get rid of their damaged notes by putting them in-between a big stack of notes when you are exchanging large amounts. So, a must-do practice is to check the quality of the notes given to you, one by one, at the exchange house. This is because you could find yourself in a situation with a relatively large note that is damaged and not taken by any establishment, including exchange houses! This is, literally, a waste of money. Hence, it is very important that you take the extra time to check that the notes you are given are in a good form before you accept them.

5. Acquire a card that doesn’t charge fees for using it abroad

Finally, if you travel often, you should definitely acquire a card that doesn’t charge fees for making payments in different currencies or withdrawing cash abroad. There are some free credit cards that offer this functionality, which you can easily consult with your bank. In addition, cards like Monzo and Revolut have become more and more popular in the recent months – These cards are not from banks, but they connect to your bank account from where you can easily transfer money into the card through an app.

Thanks for reading! Please let us know in the comments if you have any tips to travel with foreign currencies that work best for you. Or if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

Discover more of our tips for travelling in our Travel Advice section.