Consortium for International Education & Multicultural Studies
Foreign Currency Exchange
Now take into consideration that you'll be spending a foreign currency and you may also be losing some money due to the exchange rate. A savvy traveler plans for these factors when traveling abroad.
A recent Wall Street Journal article discussed the advantages, convenience, and exchange rates when using Automatic Teller Machines. Depending on the country you'll be visiting, you may want to research the availability of ATMs in the area.
The growing number of automatic teller machines abroad is sharply expanding the places where travelers can use their ATM cards. There are also thousands of machines where travelers can use their American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, and VISA cards to get cash abroad (although these are treated as loans, incurring high interest rates). Also, ATM and cash advance machines abroad may simply not be reliable, and in a worst case scenario, may "eat" your card.
According to an article in Conde Nast, "many travelers rarely go to the trouble of comparing exchange rates and usually change their money at the most convenient outlet they can find, be it a professional money changer, at the airport, or a hotel."
The article suggests looking to professional exchange brokers before you leave the country. Apparently, rates from brokers are usually better than quotes from overseas banks, and much better than those from hotels, stores and exchange booths (cambios).
Wiring funds is sometimes necessary. Again, check with your personal banker. You can wire funds bank-to-bank, or use Western Union or American Express. Fees and delivery times vary. Once abroad, plan on several calls "coordinating" and locating the funds. Planning ahead for wiring funds in an emergency could pay off big.
For online curreny conversions try using the Currency Conversion Table.