Travel Tips: Where Do I exchange my money?

One of the tasks that tend to be on the bottom of people’s to-do list when planning for their vacations is checking into the appropriate currency of whatever destination they’re going to. And speaking to my fellow Americans, not every country takes or accepts USD, though it is the most widely used currency in the world. Not something that needs a whole of effort to complete, you should still decide if you are going to exchange your money before or upon arrival at your destination. Are you going to utilize an ATM, are you going to use your or a local bank or, do you plan to rely on local money exchange places? All of these options have their pros and cons.

At Home Vs. At Destination Whether you decide to exchange at home or once you arrive at your destination is usually a personal decision, as both are viable options. The biggest factor in your decision needs to be convenience or accessibility to exchange places at the location you’re going to. Deciding to exchange your money at home will help alleviate the need for subsequent decisions because your only options are your local bank or airport exchange kiosk/desk. I very rarely exchange money at home, in fact, I’ve only done it once out of the 16 trips I’ve taken.

Pros: Relatively easy and convenient

Con: If you’re like me, and don’t live near your local bank, it is not that easy to utilize those services. There is also the possibility that your bank won’t have the currency that you need or have enough time to order it for you.

*Don’t know what the standard currency of your travel destination is? Check this list HERE

ATM. This is referring to ATMs at your travel site. You must notify your banking institution with a travel advisory so they don’t lock or flag your account for fear of fraud.

Pros: You use your own banking card and receive the currency directly. There are no commission fees that would be associated with a money exchange place or airport kiosk. Can use credit or debit card. (Note: Credit Card fees/interest rates are high so I do not recommend this)

Cons: Potential for fraud. Small potential for issues with ATM machine eating debit card. Exchange and ATM fees. (If your bank reiumburses for ATM fees, you will receive a credit back-like PNC bank)

Local Bank. This is not referring to using a local bank’s ATM, instead, using their actual banking services to exchange your money,

Pros: Low to No Fraud Risk

Cons: Most often you need to have an account to utilize these services. Need cash.

Money Exchange. These can either be found in airports or locally in shopping centers or on streets. 9/10 I use a money exchange place, I try to find one locally or exchange at the airport to always have some amount of local cash on my persons.

Pros: Low Risk for Fraud. Rates fluctuate alongside market. Usually easy to find/various locations.

Cons: Sometimes have commission fees. Need cash to exchange, though very few exchange places allow you to use a debit card to take out money.

Hotel. Note, you must be staying at the hotel to access this service.

Pros: Convenience, Low Risk of Fraud

Cons: Worst exchange rates/high fees. Need cash.

There are many options to choose from and as you can see, each option has it’s own pros and cons. My biggest piece of advice would be to download an app to stay in the know with current exchange rates. *Note you will most likely never receive the exact exchange rate, it does fluctuate daily. My favorite application to use is: GlobeConvert.


Find here a list of countries/territories that use the USD as their official currency: SITE 

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