How Should You Get Local Currency When Traveling Internationally?

If you're about to leave the country and visit a foreign nation, one of the many challenges you'll face is obtaining local currency to spend while you are there. Thankfully, there are several ways you can go about this. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here's a look.

Approach #1: Bring Cash and Exchange It

This is the way most people exchanged cash for years before ATMs and online banking became so popular. You take out cash in your home currency, bring it with you to the country you are visiting, and exchange it for that country's currency. There are usually currency exchange counters in airports and shopping centers.

This approach works well if you're only visiting for a few days and thus don't need a lot of cash. You're not relying on electronics or your bank, so approach is immune to computer glitches and accidentally frozen accounts. However, if you are traveling for a longer period of time, you may not want to carry the large amount of cash you'll need on your person.

Approach #2: Use Your Debit Card

If your bank uses one of the big credit or debit card providers, you can generally use your debit card in international ATMs to withdraw that nation's currency. The bank will use the going conversion rate to determine how much of your native currency to deduct from your account.

This approach has the advantage of not requiring you to carry large amounts of cash. You can withdraw money a little at a time as you need it. However, if something goes wrong with your bank account or you lose your debit card, you might have a hard time getting a hold of your bank due to the time difference. Some banks also charge steep fees for international withdrawals.

Approach #3: Use traveler's checks.

A traveler's check is a check that your bank writes for you to take with you to the foreign country. You can exchange the check for cash at almost any big store or bank. Usually, people will take a few smaller traveler's checks and cash them as needed.

Traveler's checks do free you from the worries that your bank account will be frozen or your card won't work at a foreign ATM. Most banks only charge a small fee to issue them. The downside, however, is that you could lose the checks and be left with no way to get foreign currency. Click for more info.

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