When traveling internationally, where should you get money?

Francis Tapon is visiting all 54 African countries from 2013-2017. Discuss his journey, the upcoming book, TV series, and documentary here.
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When traveling internationally, where should you get money?

Post by FrancisTapon » Thu Mar 27, 2008 4:07 pm

I am getting ready to leave for the Galapagos (thursday!) and my question for you is...what do you think is the best way to handle money while traveling abroad? Travelers checks? Get out a bit of cash and convert it and then just charge as much as I can on my credit card? What do you think? Thanks,
The best might be one option that you didn’t mention: using your ATM card.

Traveler’s checks are good, but most banks charge a fee (1-2%) to get them. If your bank doesn’t charge (which some credit unions don't), then that’s a pretty good deal.

Check with your credit card company. Nowadays most charge a foreign exchange premium or surcharge for foreign transactions. A few credit cards don’t – they just exchange at the market rates and they don’t tack on a profit. If your credit card doesn’t charge, then use it.

Chances are your credit card charges you and your bank charges you for traveler’s checks. To avoid those fees, go with an ATM card. The exchange rate the ATM gives you is usually fair and the foreign bank will give you the local currency, not dollars.

The ATM does charge you $1-5 per withdrawal (just like they do in the USA, when you withdraw from another bank ATM). Therefore, when you do take out, take out at least $100 worth.

Arrive in the country with $200 in cash so you don’t have to look for an ATM. Exchange $50-100 at the airport (where they rip you off), and then exchange the rest either at a bank or a professional money charge whose rates are posted.

Bon voyage!

Francis :)

Thanks for the info. I checked with my Bank and they charge 2% for traveler's checks. My ATM card also charges me $5 per transaction so that kind of sucks. My credit card does not charge any fees so I am taking cash and charging the hell out of everything I can.

Nitro, wow $5 is high. Yes, your credit card is the best option in your case!

Good luck!
- Francis Tapon

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Post by pmcgee » Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:01 pm

You do have to be careful, especially in African countries. Some, such as Liberia, don't have the infrastructure to support even ATM withdrawals, and traveler's checks are hard, if not impossible, to cash. Your only real option in countries like this is to bring enough cash (American Dollars or perhaps Euros) to sustain you for your trip, unless your trip is for multiple months, in which case I suggest you contact someone there who can advise more sustainable methods.


Re: When traveling internationally, where should you get mon

Post by Jay_SFO » Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:59 am

I also prefer the ATM card for getting cash when I travel abroad. As for the fees, I have an account with a bank in San Francisco (First Republic Bank) that has a great gimmick for getting new depositors: they refund all ATM fees anywhere in the world. This has been a tremendous help in my travels. It means I don't have to be walking around with or keeping track of large amounts of money. And if I am getting close to the end of my time in a place, needing only $5 or $10 worth of money at a time, I can withdraw those small amounts without having to pay the large fees for it.

Check locally with banks near you. There may be others that have the same policy.

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