So the summer holiday season is upon us, if you're heading abroad it's easy to get hit with extra fees and expensive exchange rates when changing up your money.
Everyone should know the places to avoid when changing up cash. It's worth remembering that the worst places to exchange money is at an airport - it's a captive audience and they take advantage of this. Also some credit cards and banks can add fees when you buy on your card.
Your best bet is to bring a credit card that won't charge currency exchange fees and some cash for backup, just in case. You should make as many purchases as possible on your credit card, as you'll then be protected against fraud. As we all know, when you lose cash or it gets stolen, you won't get it back. Lost credit cards, or fraudulent charges are easily replaced or restored.
Basically, in 2014 walking around with loads of cash and a money belt is as archaic as a pager!
Here are five tips to maximise your money:
1. Smartphone Apps
Before going on holiday, grab your smartphone and download a currency converting app. That way wherever you are, you can open the app and see if you're getting a good deal on the money your exchanging. You simple type in the amount you want to exchange and it calculates the figure in the new currency. There are several free apps available including XE Currency and GlobeConvert.
2. Double Check Before You Exchange
Be wary of currency exchanges that say they don't charge fees or advertise really good exchange rates. Often, they will offer a worse exchange rate to make up for the low fees or have caveats that they only tell you about on exchange. Ask how much you'll be getting for your cash before you exchange and then assess whether you're getting a good deal. It's also worth remembering, going to a currency exchange in the country you're visiting makes it more likely you'll get a better deal than doing it at home.
3. Get the Right Card
As I said above, it's important to get a credit card that doesn't exchange a fee for foreign currency exchange. Some can even charge a 2 or 3 percent fee for every purchase made with a foreign currency. However, there are many that don't. There are many comparison sites online which you can find with a quick perusal of Google.
Not sure if your card charges a fee? Call and ask.
If your card does have fee's, its probably worth applying for one that doesn't charge. Some cards even offer air-miles or points towards future trips.
Another benefit: credit cards often will offer exchange rates that are an average over the past month. That could be helpful if you are travelling to place where the currency is volatile.
Finally: call your credit company before travelling, that way they know you're going and won't leave you stranded without access to money - because they think you're being defrauded.
4. Hotel No Go
Sometimes hotels and other businesses like restaurants ask if you want to convert your bill into your own currency, ALWAYS decline. The exchange rate is often terrible, always pay the bill in the country's own currency and let the credit card to the exchange.
5. Check Your Debit Card
As with your credit cards, make sure your bank doesn't charge you if you use your debit card abroad. For example, some banks charge a fee for using a foreign ATM as well as a percentage for currency exchanges. It's always best to call your bank and check to see what fees apply to your account, then you know whether it is a good idea to use your card or not.