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How and When to Exchange Currency

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Most travelers wait until the last minute to exchange currency. Airport merchants wait patiently and take procrastinating travelers to the financial cleaners, so they can pay their high rent, as well as make a profit. Other travelers believe that banks will give them the best rate of exchange, but banks are all about making a profit, they’re not about saving you money. Banks charge at least one transaction fee and maybe more depending on the type of bank you’re using. Banks might only post one exchange rate in the morning and one in the afternoon, but the currency market fluctuates every hour, so you may not get a real time rate when you actually exchange your money. That’s how banks make a profit; their profit is in the exchange rate.

Credit card companies can’t wait to exchange money for you. They add a sizable transaction fee to every exchange and they charge a surcharge on trip purchases, plus they use their own rate that’s loaded with profit. If you must use a card on your trip, use an ATM card. There are no surcharges. ATM cards also have lower transaction fees and you get a better rate of exchange. Most cities have ATM machines, especially in areas where tourist traffic is high.

The smartest way to exchange currency is through a reliable currency broker. A currency broker watches the exchange market 24/7 and will help you plan an exchange strategy that compliments your budget. A broker will always give you a real time rate and there are no hidden fees or surcharges to worry about. A broker does make a profit, but you save money when you use one. You’re also able to use your host country’s currency in your budget, while you're planning, which makes it more realistic and accurate. A currency broker will exchange money anytime and will securely send it to you overnight. Travelers who use a currency broker to exchange money save anywhere from 3 to 20% when they make an exchange. That means the value of your currency is worth that much more when you exchange it.

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