Cash, Credit Cards and Transaction Fees, Oh My! Traveling internationally presents many unique and different money matters that are different from traveling at home.
We believe exchanging some money at your local bank into the currency of your international destination before leaving is always best practice. There is no worse feeling than arriving after a long haul flight, needing a cab to get to your hotel to crash, and having to approach the currency exchange counter in the airport not knowing how bad of an exchange rate they are offering. Coming with some hard currency already exchanged into the local currency will give you peace of mind and some cushion before needing to obtain more in the country you are visiting. We recommend speaking with your local bank at home about exchanging your money. Also, Xe.com is our go to source to see all foreign exchange rates. Figuring out this rate before leaving will be very beneficial!
With a good portion of the world moving to electronic forms of payment, debit and credit cards are proving advantageous to have while traveling abroad. However, there are many considerations to keep in mind before swiping away to pay for those tapas in Madrid.
First, before leaving you should contact your bank to alert them to your travel plans. Without doing so prior to leaving, many banks will decline any suspicious activity. Nothing would be worse than not being able to pay for those tapas! You should be able to call the number on the back of your card and place a travel notice on your account, specifying the locations and duration of your stay. This will ensure no hiccups while you are traveling.
Second, be sure to understand the foreign transaction fees associated with each card you plan to use. For credit cards, many companies will charge a flat per transaction fee, a fee on the conversion from foreign to local currency, or even as a percentage of the transaction. For debit cards, there are all sorts of ATM fees to be aware of, including the same foreign transaction fees just mentioned for credit cards. To avoid any surprises on your statement, review your cards fine print, or better yet; give your bank a call to make sure you understand all of the implications of using your card abroad.
With all of the talk on fees being a real drag to keep track of, we opted for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card for our travels. We highly recommend this card for one simple reason: no foreign transaction fees, ever. You can use the card in the same way abroad as you do at home. Not to mention there are some great bonus point earnings with the card. For more info on this and other travel related credit cards, check out The Points Guy. There is a wealth of information on all things travel cards to find one that suits you best!
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