When you're traveling in a foreign country, it can be challenging to find the best method for paying in local currency. Here are some of the common currency-exchange methods and the pros and cons of each.
Credit Card with ATM Services
Some travelers choose to simply pay with their credit card or use ATM services and let the banks figure out the fees and exchange rates. This can be a good or bad strategy, depending on your card. If you're going straight to the ATM, you may be charged a fee both by your home bank and the local bank. Some cards allow you to avoid the charge from your home bank; look for a "no foreign ATM fee" card to take advantage of this. If you're swiping your card in a foreign country, you may also be saddled with foreign transaction fees that are a percentage of the purchase price.
ATM services are one of the most convenient options for getting the amount of cash that you need, and you may also benefit from online banking services that allow you to closely track your ATM withdrawals. Check out companies such as Maritech ATM Solutions to see if they have a service that is appropriate for your situation.
You may also go the route of ordering cash before your trip. Many banks will do this for you. You can also check with a currency-exchange facility to get a variety of rates to choose from. With this method, you'll be able to calculate exactly how much you're spending each time you make a purchase in your local currency. One drawback is that the currency-exchange rates can fluctuate while you're on your trip; if the rates go down while you're abroad, then you'll have overpaid for the currency you bought at higher exchange rates.
Buying Traveler's Checks
Another option that you may choose is to buy traveler's checks for a specific amount. These can be cashed with your signature for the amount specified. These can be a good thing to have on hand if you don't want to buy all of your currency upfront and carry it with you. If a traveler's check is stolen, you can request a replacement check be sent to you. But these checks can be frustrating to cash abroad if you can't find a place that accepts them.
Each of these methods may appeal to different types of travelers. Whether you have more disposable income and wish to opt for convenience or value getting the best deal and knowing where your money is going, there is a currency-exchange option for you.