Spending money abroad can be one of the most fun (I mean, hello, you’re buying things in a different country!) and stressful parts of travel. It is absolutely imperative to do your research ahead of time and travel prepared. Before you go, be sure to check
in with your credit card company if you plan to use one abroad. Many cards charge a feee, but some don’t. Additionally, make your credit card company aware of your travel so they do not assume theft.
In addition to contacting your credit card company to notify them and check on fees, here are 5 things you should know about using money abroad:
- Exchange At Destination Country: To receive maximum benefit on the exchange rate, always do your transaction in your destination country. You may also be able to exchange any leftover cash back at the end of your trip without paying an additional fee. Be sure to ask that question (they won’t volunteer that information.)
- Don’t Go Empty Handed: Although you will pay more (see above point), I highly recommend that you exchange a little cash prior to leaving your own country. Despite exchange stands being readily available, they do occasionally close. You do not want to get caught in a situation where you don’t have access to money.
- Run Credit Card In Country Currency: Often when you run your credit card in a foreign country they will ask what currency you want it run in. The answer should always be the currency of the country where you are running the card.
- You Will Need Both: Do not make the mistake of assuming you can get by with just your credit cards. A surprising number of purchases require cash only. For example, we were surprised to find that taxi drivers took cash only.
- Tip Rules Differ: Not all countries have the same tip culture. Though it may be customary in certain countries not to tip, Americans have a reputation and it’s somewhat expected. That being said, most receipts will not have that added tip line so you will need to be prepared to leave cash.
Even with a plan, you’ll likely encounter something new or unexpected. And that’s why, probably the best piece of advice I can give you is to ask questions. As long as you are respectful, most foreign merchants will not mind to answer your currency questions. I found it better to ask for help rather than to assume I knew what I was doing!
Do you have any more advice for using money abroad?